Tag Archives: color wheel

Children’s Art Activity Based on the Painting The Milkmaid

Let’s take the 6 main rainbow colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple and arrange them in a circle to make a color wheel. Color wheels help children learn a lot about mixing colors and how colors work together for paintings.

In this post you’ll find:

  • Supply list
  • Vocabulary
  • directions
  • Helpful hints
  • Variations and adaptations for different ages
  • 2 art and design elements and principles children will learn
  • 3 ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, and social development
  • Clean-up tips
  • Molly Photo

Let’s get started!


  • White paper and 8 white 3X5 cards
  • Red, yellow, and blue tempera paint
  • White paper or plastic plate for a palette
  • Brushes
  • Pink yarn
  • Thin black marker
  • White glue, scissors, pencils (glue sticks may not hold the mice in place)


  • Primary colors,  the 3 colors—red, yellow, and blue—from which we make other colors
  • Secondary colors,  the 3 colors—orange, green, and purple—we can make from the primaries
  • Palette,  what artists use to mix colors on. Can be made of wood, plastic, or paper, and come in many shapes, but the kidney shape is kind of classic!


Paint the Primaries

  1. On the palette, pour small puddles of red, yellow, and blue paint, leaving space between each puddle
  2. Take 3 index cards and paint one red, one yellow, and one blue. Clean your brush in between colors. Explain these are the primaries from which we make other colors.

Now let’s mix the primaries to make the secondaries:

  1. With a clean brush, add a very little red to some of the yellow on your palette. Mix to make orange and paint another index card.
  2. With a clean brush, add a very little blue to some of the yellow to make green and paint another index card.
  3. With a clean brush, add a very little red to some of the blue to make purple and paint another index card.
  4. Allow the 6 cards to dry
  5. Now for some fun mixing—mix all the colors left on your palette to make a brown! Paint a 7th card brown.

Putting it all together

  1. On the 8th index card draw a drop shape as a pattern for your mice. Cut out.
  2. On the large white paper, draw a palette shape and cut out.
  3. Use the pattern to draw 6 mouse shapes on each card and cut these out.
  4. Cut 6 tails from the pink yarn
  5. Glue the mice in place on the palette with the secondaries between the primaries that made them. I like to have the pointy nose end of the mice facing in, but you don’t have to.
  6. Before the glue dries, tuck one end of a piece of pink yarn under the rounded end of each mouse and press down. Leave most of the yarn out for a tail.
  7. A little dab of glue on the end of each tail will keep them curled around
  8. Use marker or crayon to give the mice eyes, ears, noses and whiskers.
  9. Cut a brush handle from the brown paper, bristles from other scraps, (or use marker to color a rainbow on the bristles) and glue onto the palette.
  10. Glue the palette to a sheet of your child’s favorite color for display. And to keep as you learn more about colors!

Helpful Hints:

  • The painted cards may curl as they dry. Just flatten them under books.
  • To help prevent globs of glue on the mice, pour a small glue puddle on a paper plate and have children use their finger to spread the glue.
  • I’ll often put colored dots with marker for where to glue or print the primary mice, so there’s enough space between each for the secondary mice.

Variations and/or adaptations for different ages:

  • Younger children may need extra help with drawing, cutting and gluing the mice, but encourage them to do as much as they can. Don’t worry if their mice look too thin or aren’t the exact right shape.
  • Many children enjoy seeing the different greens, oranges, and purples they can make by mixing differing amounts of the primaries. Encourage them to experiment. It’s lots of fun just to mix colors!
  • With younger children (preschool-2nd) I sometimes make a color wheel by painting children’s hands to print the colors. Start with the primaries, then mix these to make the secondaries. Messy but fun and a great keepsake!

2 art and design elements and  principles children will learn

  • Color—in this activity children learn basic information about primary and secondary colors. They also learn how to mix just a little darker color at a time into lighter colors.
  • Balance—as children place their mice on the palette, they learn to think about spacing these so their “picture” is balanced.

3 ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, and social development

  1. Using pencils, brushes, scissors, etc. helps children develop fine motor skills.
  2. Discussing art builds vocabulary and social skills.
  3. This activity helps develop visual/spatial skills as children place the mice on the palette.

Clean up Hints:

  • Be sure to put a plastic table cloth or large paper under your work
  • Have paper towels handy
  • Wax paper under the mice while spreading glue on the back of them keeps them from sticking in the wrong places
  • Keep a wastebasket handy for trash
  • After washing and rinsing brushes, reshape bristles if needed, and lay them flat on paper towels to dry. Store with bristles up in a jar.

Before You Go

If you’d like more activity ideas for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities for each Benefit.

Next week our newsletter will have lots of fun ideas, projects, freebees, book reviews, and links to continue learning!

Visit my website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages. Add link

Molly hopes you enjoy making a mouse color wheel! and we hope to see you back here soon for a new Kathy the Picture Lady art series.

Molly checked out the mice but her nose said they weren’t real. She’s real sorry she got the paper wet!


Activities to Learn about Color, based on Jean Honore Fragonard’s painting, A Young Girl Reading

In this post you’ll find activities to help you understand how artists use color. While there are 2 basic projects, each project has suggestions so you can make it as individual as you like.

The second project helps you discover how Fragonard used color in A Young Girl Reading, and then has an activity for you to use this knowledge.

I’ve decided to further break up these activity posts, so the next one will be about line and drawing.

Project 1. Making a Color Wheel

 Step 1. Draw a large circle on paper. Use a compass or draw around a plate or bowl. Place 3 X’s evenly spaced around the circle. (see picture)20180331_154810

20180331_155512Step 2.  Color or paint a blob each of the primary colors, red, blue and yellow around the outside of your circle, one color one each X. (see how they are evenly spaced around the circle in the picture) Primary colors can’t be made from any other color

Step 3.  Next add orange, green, and violet (purple) to your wheel. But WAIT! Don’t just put them anywhere. These secondary colors  are made by mixing 2 primaries. So we place them on the outer circle between the 2 colors they’re made from.Follow the picture to see what to do.20180331_161234

If you are using paint, you can mix the secondaries yourself, but markers or crayons will give you the idea.

Variation 1

Try drawing something special inside your color wheel and color it in all 6 colors. (I chose a hot air balloon and used crayon to color it). Remember these are the 6 colors God uses in a rainbow!20180401_115009

Variation 2

Jazz up your color wheel by drawing your circle as a wavy or jagged line. You can also draw and color rockets or dogs, etc. instead of making blobs.

My wavy circle reminded me of a sand dollar, so I chose fish that are blowing colored bubbles at each other! (I drew and cut out one fish and traced around this pattern so my fish looked the same, but you don’t have to do that. Try drawing something different for each color)


Project 2. Using Your Color Wheel to Learn More about Color.


In A Young Girl Reading, notice that the ribbons are violet, and of course, her dress is yellow.

A Young Girl Reading wikimedia commons

Where are yellow and violet on your color wheel? Right, they are opposite each other.

We call colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel complementary colors. When they are next to each other, as in this painting, the resulting high contrast is eye-catching.

Red/green and blue/orange are the other complementary pairs. When you look at other paintings, notice how often artists use these complementary colors to get your attention.

But God thought of it first!! He used complementary colors when He created flowers because that shimmery high contrast attracts insects and birds to help cross pollination. Look at pictures of flowers or the real thing if you can, to see how many flowers with complementary colors you can find. (violet and yellow pansies and blue crocuses with orange centers are two)

Activity to use your knowledge of color

Write out or (print with a fancy font on your computer) Matthew 6:28-30, where Jesus says that God has clothed the lilies of the field with more splendor than Solomon’s robes. Leave space between lines and decorate the words with flowers that God robes in complementary colors!


Let me know how your projects turn out, and be sure to tell me if any directions or explanations need to be clearer. If you use any of these projects or ideas from my other posts with a group, please tell them about my blog and let me know how things go.

Don’t miss the next KathythePictureLady post. You’ll see how to do gesture drawings of hands, pillows, and teapots!! Oh, My!!  Sign up to receive these posts!  

I recently did a school presentation about the Vikings--how they traded, raided, settled new areas, and became Christians in the process. We looked at their beautiful artwork and drew a full-scale Viking ship outside, complete with a helmsman (we learned that these ships were steered with one long oar that was always on the styrboard or starboard side). We also had a lookout, a dragon prow, and lots of rowers! It was great fun! I’d love to visit your group! See available topics and workshops on my website.www.kathy-oneill.com