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Creative Color Wheel Cutouts

Third Graders are learning about intermediate (tertiary) colors and how to create them. Each student painted a color wheel given only red, yellow, and blue paint (the primary colors). They mixed the paints on their Styrofoam plate palette to create secondary and intermediate colors.


  • Color Wheel Template (photocopied large circle divided into 12ths)
  • Styrofoam plate with red, yellow, and blue paint and small paintbrush for each student
  • Water cups for rinsing brushes
  • pencils
  • scissors
  • black paper (cut into 9″ squares)
  • glue sticks


On the first day, the students look at a color wheel and learn how it works. They can reference the color wheel to find out how to mix secondary and intermediate colors. They begin by labeling their color wheel chart with each color in the right location. I suggest that they start with yellow and then paint the blue and red areas on the wheel before doing any mixing. Next, they can work their way around the wheel, painting each area as they go. Once they have mixed orange, for example, they can use the leftover paint to make red orange and yellow orange (intermediate colors).

On the second day of the project, we discuss positive and negative space, symmetry, and radial balance. We fold up the circular color wheel into fractions (in half, in half again, and then in thirds) until all 12 pieces are layered on top of one another. It looks like a single slice of pizza, and their scissors take “bites” out of the slice on the sides, tip, and outside edge. Cutting through the layers is tough for some students, so I tell them to make sure they have a strong pair of scissors and open them up wide to start each cut. We also cut a blank design first before cutting on their painted color wheel. The fnished designs are glued onto black paper to highlight the negative spaces. Now the uniform painted color wheels are each a unique work of art!

The results:


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