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Primary and Secondary Colors Elementary Art Lesson

Updated on August 31, 2018
iijuan12 profile image

I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

Primary Colors and Secondary Colors Art Lesson for Early Elementary
Primary Colors and Secondary Colors Art Lesson for Early Elementary

This is the 2nd lesson in a series of 30 hands-on art lessons for Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grade. This lesson focuses on primary colors and secondary colors. I used this plan while teaching a weekly 45 minute art class for children in Kindergarten, 1st, & 2nd grades. Each lesson includes an art concept, introductory book, focus on an artist, and a variety of art techniques to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

"Mouse Paint" by Ellen Stoll Walsh
"Mouse Paint" by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Primary Colors and Secondary Colors

1. Ask the children what their favorite color is. Isn't it wonderful that we live in a world with so much color? Did you know that some of those colors are actually mixtures of other colors? Let's find out about that.

2. Read Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. As you read, allow the children to be the ones to name the colors in the book.

  • Explain that red, yellow, and blue are primary colors. (Have the children repeat that.) Primary means first.
  • Mention that orange, green, and purple are secondary colors. (Have the children repeat that.) Secondary means second. They are the colors made when you mix together the primary colors. Have the children repeat that.

You will need:

  • Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh or other book featuring primary colors and secondary colors

Mouse Paint
Mouse Paint

This is such a fun, simple book that is perfect for this age group! It's about 3 white mice who get into red, yellow, and blue paint. They they mix up the colors to create orange, green, and purple paint. It also involves a cat, but I'll save that part for you to discover!

 
Monet - Impression, Sunrise
Monet - Impression, Sunrise | Source

Claude Monet and Impressionists

3. Show a picture of some of the paintings by Claude Monet. (I flipped through the children's book Claude Monet by Mike Venezia.)

  • Briefly mention that Claude Monet was an impressionist. Instead of trying to paint the way things looked, he wanted to focus on the way light reflected off of objects.
  • Instead of painting with straight lines and long strokes, he dabbed and dotted paint quite a bit in his paintings.

You will need:

  • some of the paintings by Claude Monet such as the ones shown in the children's book Claude Monet (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists) by Mike Venezia *Make sure to include a copy of Impression, Sunrise.*

Mixing primary colors to make secondary colors
Mixing primary colors to make secondary colors

Mixing primary colors to make secondary colors

4. Pass out a small plate with a quarter-size amount of red, yellow, and blue paint. Give each child 3 Q-tips. (Each time try to emphasize to not swirl too much. It's nice to have remnants of the primary colors still visible.)

  • Show them how to use the Q-tip drag some of the red and yellow paint together and swirl it together. Have them do it. What secondary color does to make? Orange!
  • Show them how to use the Q-tip drag some of the yellow and blue paint together and swirl it together. Have them do it. What secondary color does to make? Green!
  • Show them how to use the Q-tip drag some of the red and blue paint together and swirl it together. Have them do it. What secondary color does to make? Purple!

You will need per child:

  • a small plate
  • red, yellow, and blue tempera paint
  • 3 Q-tips

Dab painting inspired by Claude Monet's "Impression - Sunrise"
Dab painting inspired by Claude Monet's "Impression - Sunrise"

Dab painting inspired by Claude Monet's "Impression - Sunrise"

5. Have the children create a dab painting in a manner similar to Claude Monet's Impression - Sunrise.

  • Pass out a half-sheet of paper. (A quarter sheet might be better for the kindergarten group. Do not give a full sheet. It takes so long to cover the entire page!)
  • Dip your Q-tip into your orange and get plenty of paint on it. Draw a line straight across to make the horizon line. The horizon is where the sky and the land (or in this case, the sea) meet. Feel free to re-dip if you need more paint to finish your line.
  • Dip your Q-tip again into your orange and get plenty of paint on it. Create a half-circle to make your sun. It needs to stop on your horizon line.
  • From now one we're going to dab. Dip your Q-tip in your blue and your green and dab the part below the horizon line that is the sea. Try to cover up all the white. Keep swirling in colors. If you drag your Q-tip a little bit, it's okay, but try to mainly dab.
  • If you finish the sea earlier than the others, drag your Q-tip to make a half-circle and a triangle on top to make a ship in the water.
  • Now use your orange, red, and yellow to dab the part inside the sun and in the sky. Try to cover up all the white. Keep swirling in colors. If you drag your Q-tip a little bit, it's okay, but try to mainly dab.
  • Use those same colors to dab a reflection of the sun in the water.

You will need per child:

  • the paint, Q-tips, & plates used above
  • a half sheet of drawing paper or other heavier paper
  • baby wipes for cleaning fingers
  • extra paint & Q-tips if they need refills

6. Take a photo of each child with their masterpiece.

A sampling of some of the art pieces

Early elementary dab painting inspired by Claude Monet's "Impression - Sunrise"
Early elementary dab painting inspired by Claude Monet's "Impression - Sunrise"

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© 2018 Shannon

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    • iijuan12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Shannon 

      8 months ago from Florida

      Yes, I am also a big fan of the impressionists, particularly Monet. They certainly did enjoy mixing paint colors and were amazed to see the primary colors transform into the secondary colors.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      8 months ago from UK

      Monet is a favourite of mine. In my experience kids always enjoy mixing paint colours.

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