Introducing the color wheel can be messy fun.

How to Teach Children About the Color Wheel

by Susan Revermann

Get the ball rolling by introducing the color wheel to your child. Once you’ve explained that the primary colors are like the parents of the other colors, she can start experimenting for herself and observe the secondary color babies come to life. Once this basic concept is grasped, she’ll be able to start creating her own colorful creations.

Color Wheel

Put a paint shirt on your child and protect your work surface with newspaper.

Grab a paper plate and draw lines across the plate as if you are cutting pie into six equal slices.

Place a drop of red paint on one pie slice. Skip a pie slice and place a dab of yellow. Skip another and drop some blue on that slice. There should be a paint dab on every other section.

Give your child a small-tipped paintbrush and instruct her to first dip her paintbrush in the yellow and then the red. The section between these two colors should be painted with this new color mixture to make orange.

Thoroughly rinse the paintbrush in a cup of water and dry with a paper towel. Get some yellow on the paintbrush and then some blue. Paint the section between the two to get green.

Rinse the paintbrush again and do the same procedure for red and blue to make purple. At the end, there should be a color in each pie section to complete your color wheel.

Paint Cups

Grab six clear cups and place them in a circle on a sturdy surface. Pour some water in each. Half full should be sufficient.

Instruct your child to sit so she can see the cups at eye level.

Place a drop of red food coloring in the first glass. Skip a glass and drop yellow food coloring in the third glass. Skip another and put blue in the fifth cup. Stir each glass with a clean spoon to disperse the food coloring in the water.

Fill a dropper full of the red water and place it in the second glass and a dropper full of yellow in the same glass. Have your child mix the water and watch it turn orange.

Rinse the dropper with water. Grab a dropper full of yellow and squirt it into the fourth glass. Then add a dropper full of blue into the same glass. Stir and observe as it turns green.

Rinse dropper and put some red and blue into the sixth glass. Watch purple appear as you stir the two together.

Items you will need

  • Newspaper
  • Paint shirt
  • Pencil
  • Paper plate
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper towels
  • Cups
  • Water
  • Paints; red, yellow, blue
  • Food coloring
  • Spoon

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images