Exploring the Rainbow: Fun Art Activities to Teach Kids about Colour Theory


Art is one of the most creative and expressive forms of human communication. It has the ability to transcend language barriers and cultural differences, making it a universal language that can be appreciated by people from all walks of life. One aspect of art that is often overlooked, yet incredibly important, is colour theory. Understanding colour theory empowers artists to create more dynamic artwork by combining colours in a harmonious way.

Explanation of Colour Theory

Colour theory is the study of how colours interact with each other. It deals with the relationships between colours and how different combinations can create different moods or evoke certain emotions in viewers. The study of colour theory involves learning about primary, secondary, and tertiary colours as well as hue, saturation, and value.

The primary colours are red, yellow, and blue. They are called primary because they cannot be made by mixing any other colours together.

Secondary colours are created by mixing two primary colours together: orange (red + yellow), green (yellow + blue), and purple (red + blue). Tertiary colours are created by mixing a primary colour with a secondary colour: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple.

Importance of Teaching Colour Theory to Kids

Teaching children about colour theory at a young age can help them develop their artistic skills early on in life. By learning about the basics of colour theory such as hue, saturation and value early on in their lives will help them understand how to mix colours properly to create specific hues or get creative ideas for future artworks. Additionally teaching children about art concepts like colour theory encourages critical thinking skills development which is essential for cognitive development in kids.

Understanding the basics of colour theory is not only useful for artists but it also applicable in many fields like graphic design industry as well where designers need to ensure that their designs are aesthetically appealing and convey the right message. Hence, teaching colour theory to kids is not just limited to those with a passion for art but can be beneficial for their development in various other fields as well.

Overview of Art Activities That Will Be Discussed

Now that we have a better understanding of what colour theory is and why it's important to teach it to kids, let's explore some exciting and engaging art activities that can help children learn about colour theory in practice. In this article we will discuss five fun activities including Basic Colour Wheel Activity, Colour Mixing Experiment, Tinting and Shading Activity, Colour Scavenger Hunt, and Famous Artist Study: Piet Mondrian.

Each activity will provide step-by-step instructions on how to do them as well as explanations of key concepts of colour theory learned through each activity. With these activities children can have fun while also learning about the important world of colours.

The Basic Colour Wheel Activity

Teaching kids about colour theory doesn't have to be boring. One fun and effective way to introduce the concept of colour relationships is by creating a basic colour wheel. This activity is suitable for kids of all ages and can be done with basic art supplies that are readily available in most households.

Materials Needed

  • White paper or cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Paint or markers in primary colours (red, yellow, blue)
  • Paint or markers in secondary colours (green, orange, purple)

Step-by-step Instructions for Creating a Basic Colour Wheel

  1. Using the pencil and ruler, draw a circle on the white paper or cardboard.
  2. Divide the circle into six equal parts using the compass.
  3. Label each section with the name of a primary colour: red, yellow, and blue.
  4. Mix paint or use markers to fill in each section with its corresponding primary colour.
  5. Use paint or markers to fill in the spaces between each primary colour section with its corresponding secondary colour: green (mixing yellow and blue), orange (mixing red and yellow), and purple (mixing red and blue).
  6. Label each secondary colour space accordingly.
  7. Step back and admire your completed basic colour wheel!

Discussion on Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colours

The basic colour wheel activity introduces kids to primary colours (red, yellow, blue) which cannot be created by mixing any other colours together but can be mixed together to create secondary colours (green, orange, purple). The secondary colours are located between two primary colours on the wheel where they overlap in equal amounts.

Teaching kids about primary, secondary, and tertiary colours is important because it gives them a strong foundation for understanding colour relationships and how they can be used in their artwork. Moreover, it is an enjoyable way to introduce them to art theory, which can help develop their artistic skills and creativity.

Colour Mixing Experiment

One of the most exciting aspects of colour theory is colour mixing. This experiment will allow kids to explore the concept of how colours mix and create new colours. This experiment requires only a few materials, making it easy and accessible for parents and teachers to implement.

Materials Needed

  • Red, blue, and yellow paint (primary colours)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper plates or palette
  • Cup of water for rinsing brushes
  • Blank paper or canvas for creating artwork with the mixed colours

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Experiment

  1. Squeeze out a small amount of each primary paint colour onto a paper plate or palette.
  2. Show kids how to dip their brush into one primary colour and then paint it onto their paper or canvas.
  3. Next, encourage them to dip their brush into another primary colour and mix it with the first colour on their canvas or paper. The result should be a secondary colour (ex: red + blue = purple).
  4. Repeat this process with all three primary colours, creating secondary colours in between each step (ex: yellow + blue = green).
  5. If desired, let kids experiment with different amounts of each primary colour to see how it affects the resulting secondary colour.

Discussion on How Colours Mix and Create New Colours

The key takeaway from this activity is that mixing different combinations of primary colours can create an entirely new set of hues. By blending together two or more primaries, you can create secondary colours such as green, purple, and orange. This concept becomes even more apparent when you mix tints or shades of colours.

For example, if you mix blue and white, you will create a light blue tint. If you mix blue and black, you will create a dark blue shade.

It is also important to note that mixing all three primary colours together (red, yellow, and blue) creates brown or black. This is because when all three primary colours are mixed together in equal amounts, they absorb all the light and produce a colour that appears as having no hue.

This experiment can be extended by encouraging children to use their newly created secondary colours in their artwork. They can paint landscapes with green trees and purple mountains or draw a self-portrait using a variety of skin tones made by mixing different tints of red, yellow, and brown.

Tinting and Shading Activity

Materials needed

For this activity, you will need: - Paint (red, yellow, blue, white)

  • Paintbrushes - Mixing palette
  • Water container - Paper (preferably thick watercolour paper)

Step-by-step instructions for creating tints and shades

  1. Start by mixing a small amount of paint with white to create a tint. The more white you add, the lighter the tint will be. Do this for your primary colours (red, yellow, and blue).
  2. Next, mix a small amount of paint with black to create a shade. The more black you add, the darker the shade will be. Again, do this for your primary colours.
  3. Now it's time to experiment mixing your tints and shades with other colours to create new hues! For example: mix red and white to create pink; mix yellow and black to make olive green; or mix blue and white to make light blue.
  4. Use your newly created tints and shades in artwork! Try painting a landscape using different shades of green or an abstract piece using various tints of purple.

Discussion on how to use tints and shades in artwork

Tinting and shading are important techniques that artists use to add depth and dimensionality in their work. Tinting is adding white paint to a colour while shading is adding black paint instead. By creating tints from primary colours, painters can make pastel-coloured artworks that could be used in paintings like flowers or sunset skies, while by making shades, they can add shadows or darker parts into their artwork.

When it comes to creating contrast in an artwork, artists tend to use light values against dark values - which means using tints against darks or vice versa - which ensures the artwork looks balanced. It is also important to note that tints and shades can be used to create a variety of effects, such as creating a sense of movement or highlighting certain aspects of the artwork.

Tinting and shading can add visual interest and enhance the aesthetics of an artwork, making it look professional. These techniques are simple yet impactful and can be taught to kids by using simple exercises like mixing primary colours with black or white to create new hues.

Colour Scavenger Hunt

Another fun way to teach colour theory to kids is through a colour scavenger hunt. This activity can be done both indoors and outdoors, making it a great option for any weather condition. The goal of the activity is to identify as many different hues as possible in the environment.

Materials Needed

  • Paper and pencils for each child
  • A list of colours to search for (e.g. red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Scavenger Hunt

  1. Gather all necessary materials and explain the instructions to the children.
  2. Distribute paper and pencils (or cameras) to each child.
  3. Show them the list of colours they need to search for.
  4. Explain that they need to find objects in their environment that match each colour on the list.
  5. If playing with more than one child, set a time limit (e.g. 15 minutes) and have them return after finding as many colours as possible within that time frame.

Discussion on How to Identify Different Hues in the Environment

The discussion part of this activity is just as important as the scavenger hunt itself. Ask children questions about what they found during their hunt:

  • "What was your favorite thing you found?"
  • "What was difficult about finding certain colours?"
  • "Can you think of any other objects with similar hues?"

You can also point out how different objects may have the same hue but appear differently due to lighting or texture. For example, a red apple may look different than a red shirt because of the shine or gloss on the apple. The colour scavenger hunt is not only an engaging activity for kids, but it also helps them learn how to identify and differentiate hues in their surroundings. This skill can be applied to their artwork and everyday life.


Throughout the article, we have discussed various art activities that can be used to teach kids about colour theory. The basic colour wheel activity is a great starting point for children to familiarize themselves with primary, secondary, and tertiary hues. The colour mixing experiment provides a hands-on experience for kids to see how colours blend and create new shades.

The tinting and shading activity allows children to practice using tints and shades in their artwork while the colour scavenger hunt encourages them to identify different hues in their environment. The Mondrian-inspired artwork activity teaches kids about the use of primary colours in art.

Understanding colour theory is essential for creating visually appealing artwork. By learning about primary, secondary, and tertiary hues, as well as how colours mix to create new shades, children can develop a better understanding of how different colours work together in an artwork.

Familiarizing themselves with tints and shades helps them achieve depth and contrast in their creations. Identifying different hues in their environment trains them to be more observant of their surroundings.

Through these activities, kids not only learn about colour theory but also develop creativity skills that can help them express themselves through art. By encouraging creative expression at an early age, we lay the foundation for future artists who may have a significant impact on our society by creating stunning works of art that captivate audiences around the world.

Understanding color theory is an important step in your child's artistic journey. By participating in Jellybeanstreet workshops, your child can further explore the fascinating world of colors and unleash their creative potential. Our expert facilitators guide children through hands-on activities that teach color mixing, shading, and the use of primary colors in art. Through these engaging workshops, your child will not only gain a deeper understanding of color theory but also develop essential creativity skills. Book a Jellybeanstreet workshop today and watch your child's artistic talents flourish!

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