Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Elements and Principles of Design
Christy Hartman

Begin your color investigation with your youngest students by allowing them a controlled free exploration time mixing the color combinations that can be made using the Primary Colors. Put on some fun music, if you can find music about colors even better, read a good children’s book to the students about color, there are a wide variety of titles one of my favorites is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Place the combinations of colors that you want the students to experience in front of them, I only place two primary colors in front of them at a time; otherwise they tend to want to mix all together and get muddy colors. Save that lesson for another time. As a part of this lesson introduce the color wheel so that while the students are experiencing color as they are learning about color theory. Have the students use yellow and red to mix combinations of orange and then allow them to paint using red, yellow, and orange giving the students the opportunity to free paint any picture of their choice. The next class period give them yellow and blue and allow them to experience mixing shades of green, and the final class period mix red and blue to form shades of purple. By the time that the students have completed this lesson they have begun the process of understanding the Primary Colors and have had that “aha” moment while “making” a new color and you as the teacher have had the opportunity to observe and enjoy the process.

The following year I like to repeat this lesson changing it slightly so that my students experience the concept of Primary Colors in a new and different way. Using the same idea of controlling their use of color by only allowing them to have two primary colors at a time I instruct my students to paint patterns of color by forming vertical or horizontal color patterns adding polka dots and crisscrossing line patterns to form a free flowing design on their paper. We will repeat this process three times using the various color combinations that can be formed using the Primary Colors, my students found this to be a fun and liberating activity because they could be creative and inventive in their designs. I wondered if this would become boring as we continued through the colors but it didn’t. After each class period I collected the designs and saved them for the culmination project, at the end of this color investigation I passed out their paintings and we began a lesson on collage. I had determined that we would begin building an imaginary bird by cutting the body and head out of one piece of the painted patterns that we had just completed and glued it onto a colored piece of construction paper and drew a wing shape onto the paper. We cut smaller pieces of the patterned paper out in an oval shape and glued each piece onto the wings overlapping them so that it appeared that our birds had feathers, this was a painstaking process that took one full class period to complete. The bulk of my students enjoyed the process and the project completely although some whose fine motor skills are not quite as developed struggled a bit but still enjoyed the process. Once the birds were finished we added wiggle eyes and a construction paper beak. The students were delighted with the finished product and they were a darling addition to the bulletin boards in the hallway.

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