Color Theory Assignments For Middle School

Color Theory Practice

Submitted by: Jan Butler
Unit: Color Theory in Practice

Grades: Two through eighth grade

Jan has done this lesson with 2nd and 3rd graders and now her 7th and 8th graders. She found it worked out well with both groups.


From Jan:

I discovered that 7th graders needed some work on mixing paint colors. Using

Tempera Paint on a white Mat board I made a color wheel first and had them copy mine. I asked them to use only primary colors and black and white to get every other color. Fist they made a clock face about 10" diameter. Finding the center they made two more concentric circles inside the large one. Then they had to divide the circle into 12 equal wedges. The concept of a clock worked well for this.


While they applied color, starting with three primary colors, I reminded them of terms like: hue, primary color, secondary, tertiary, shades (add black), tints (add white); intensity, warm, cool, tone and value. I told them a little of the history of the color wheel naming Isaac Newton, Goethe and Itten. I asked them to write these terms on their board. They could approach it any way they liked. I told them also to mix some browns and put them in the margins.


For a different twist to this, see Melissa Spellman's Complimentary colors


After working two class periods on the color wheel we went on to put color mixing into practice. I made a 12 part grid with a marker on a laminated poster of Van Gogh’s "The Starry Night."I had every one choose one section and match the colors as closely as possible to paint that section. I cut heavy drawing paper into 12 sections and labeled them to match the grid. I made a smaller grid with reference numbers and names as the kids chose the section they wanted to paint. Because our group was only 7 students I painted 2 sections and 3 others also painted 2 sections to complete the painting. Because we used tempera, we found out we could not get certain colors. As we started to put it together everyone was so amazed at how good it looked. And they now have a better understanding of color mixing and what kind of colors and brush strokes Van Gogh used.



Book:Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night- This painting at the Museum of Modern Art is explored as well as how he used color to convey the effects of darkness onto a canvas.


Submitted by:Stephanie Corder, AZ Academy~ U.S. Virgin Islands
UNIT: Color Theory
Grade Level: Middle school through high school



To learn the basic rules of color relationships, tints, and shades by creating a color wheel.



Canvas Panels (Poster Board, Tag board or heavy Watercolor Paper)
Compasses and Protractor
Acrylic Paint (Tempera Paint or Watercolor Paint)
Brushes of various sizes



Color is one of those concepts that continuously amazes and amuses us. We teach it throughout our art courses and programs. We want our students to have a better knowledge of the world around them as it relates to color. We also want them to use color intelligently in their artwork.

Therefore, I’ve rounded up our favorite ways to teach and explore color theory all in one place! Peruse, pick, choose, and add your own in the comments below!

Teaching Tools and DIY Resources


Color Wheel Canvases
What’s better than art room decor that is multi-functional? Why not do a DIY project for your art room that doubles as a learning tool?
Kolormondo Color Globe
This color globe is a hands-on way to visualize color as it displays and organizes hue, saturation, and brightness all at the same time. Putting it together piece-by-piece helps show the ways in which colors interact with one another.
Magnetic Color Wheel
With this tool, students can interact with and manipulate the color wheel. Utilizing the magnets on the backs of the circles, they can sort colors into color families and rearrange the wheel as necessary right on the whiteboard!

Activities and Games


Color Experiments
Here are 3 color mixing activities that not only will inspire your students but will get you thinking outside the box regarding teaching color theory.
Color Theory Getting-To-Know-You
In this activity, students use the color wheel to tell about themselves and their classmates. As an added bonus, this project makes Common Core connections in both Math (shapes, fractions) and English/Language Arts (writing, reading).
Fresh Ideas for Teaching Color
Here are 3 successful techniques for engaging students as you teach color.
A New Way to Introduce the Color Wheel
Use sentence starters to teach about the color wheel in this fun peer activity!
Color Sort Game
Need a creative review of the color families? Check out this quick, easy-to-make game!
Color Match Game
If you’re also facing the challenge of keeping young students engaged, then you might want to make a set of “Color Match” cards for your room!
Monochromatic Self-Portraits
Getting kids to make art on the first day is so much more fun for everyone and can be a much more memorable way to teach art studio habits and procedures. You could also use this as a review activity after a school break!

Technology and Apps


App Inspired by Josef Albers
Josef Albers’s Interaction of Coloris brought to life with this interactive app, the likes of which Albers could have never imagined.
3 Color Explorations Apps – Blendamaze, Harmony, and Blendoku
A couple of years ago, this article shared some incredible color theory apps. One of those apps, Blendamaze by Borderleap just released an update, and it’s now better than ever! My students LOVE playing this game. The game mimics a traditional, wooden labyrinth game, but mixes in color theory. Playing Blendmaze allows my students to have fun, problem-solve, and have a friendly competition, all while learning.  It’s fantastic! You can see how it works below.

Color in Motion Site
Check out “The Movies” portion of the site. The kids love to sit back and watch each color come to life in an animated way.

Color Videos


OK GO – Three Primary Colors (More OK GO Videos)
This favorite works equally well for elementary and high school students.
The Colors Song
A unicorn and a robot make learning colors fun for young students in this catchy song.
The Effect of Color
A short and sweet look at color and emotion. This one requires a teacher review and is best for older students.
AOE’s FLIPPED Color Wheel Lesson
We’ve flipped a color wheel lesson for you! Check it out!
DVD: Getting to Know Color in Art
You may want to consider adding this DVD to your collection.





Middle School & High School


Hopefully, you’ve gotten some fresh ideas about introducing color theory to your students of all ages! Let us know how they go and add other ideas below in the comments!

If you’re looking for even more color theory, check out the fascinating episode How Color Worksfrom the podcast Stuff You Should Know.


What are your favorite ways to teach and review color theory?

What are your favorite color theory projects?


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