Saturday, August 20, 2011

the bucket of lessons

During the move to my new school I had to pull all my Tupperware buckets down from the tops of cabinets and was happy to find my "missing" bucket of middle school lesson samples from my first year teaching. Some of these lessons are winners and some are looser. No matter the result, I like seeing what I was expecting of my students that first year and reflect on what I will do differently with the lessons this time.

So in no particular order, and not promising to post one a day...a countdown of lessons from my first year of teaching to celebrate the arrival of year five teaching!

Lesson 1:
The star color star...ugg...color wheel. I think I made this template up during my student teaching to show 5th and 6th grade students how to mix their colors. I like how the primary and secondary colors are in their own triangle and I have found younger students have an easier time getting the right intermediate colors in the right location when the colors are painted inside the hexagon. As this is more of a color mixing lesson for me than anything, I tend to give the black line template to the students and not make them draw it.

changes to make to the lesson: I want the colors labeled by the students. This means I just need to leave more white space around the star and find a way to label the inner colors. I also notice this sample doesn't have the most accurate green...but they could be from fading or the flash on the camera.

Things I've learned about this lesson:
*With 5th or 6th graders I receive in a middle school program that never have taken art before this can be a great confidence boosting lesson or a mess. To make it a great lesson have the students practice mixing colors on a large group color wheel first and then do their individual color wheel.
*This tends to be a guided lesson till students get that "ahah" moment and are ready to do the intermediate colors on their own.
*Make sure to remind the kids that red and blue are "strong" colors and a little goes a long way.
*I have observed younger students who have not been exposed to much color mixing...or art for that matter...can have a very hard time seeing the difference between blue and blue-purple. They sometimes also struggle with seeing the diffrence between red and red orange and orange. I tell the kids this is OK! They are training their artist eye and I am happy to go look at the colors they have mixed and help them figure out where they belong.
*When everything is dry OUTLINE in Sharpie! It cleans up the look of any color wheel

When I then ask students to make their complex color wheel that includes tints and shades in 7th grade they are ready for the advanced mixing thanks to practice with the star!


  1. i really like this idea... i also teach middle school. it is really sad that most of my student come to me without ever having an art class. thank you sharing -- if you need any more middle school ideas visit my blog

  2. I love the look if these colour wheels! What type of objectives or aims did you set for the class. What age group are 7th grade? thanks

  3. The 7th graders are 12 or 13 years old. I'm guessing you are asking about the circular complex color wheels. Each of the 12 wedges of the complex wheel is divided into three sections and then traced around the circle creating radial symmetry. Each wedge of the wheel, representing the 12 major colors within the wheel, must have the color for that wedge (parent color), an area painted the complementary color of that wedge and a area painted a tint of that color. More advanced students can add a fourth space to each wedge and do a shade of each parent color. These need to be larger circles to start or things get to cramped together to do nice painting.

  4. Awh I think they look very good. Im in my first year of teaching and its good to see the colour wheel being used in a different way. Did you let the students decide on what pattern they wanted to put into each wedge. I love them mounted on the black too!

  5. What paint did you use? Acrylic or Tempera?