True Colors

Confession time: I am a little obsessed with color. Whether it’s a store display or a painting, if the colors appeal to me, I’m immediately drawn in. And I’m sure I make more decisions than I really should based on color. (It drives my dad crazy that I choose a cell phone because of its color rather than its features). So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that one of my favorite ways to explore works of art with children is through color. And one of my most trusted go-to gadgets? The humble paint chip.

Paint chips are sturdier than construction paper, come in a wider range of colors, and are the perfect size for little hands. And best of all, they are easy to throw in your bag and bring along to the museum for endless color explorations. Here are a few of the ways I use paint chips in the galleries:

Searching for a match in front of Delaunay's "Eiffel Tower"

Color Scavenger Hunt

I have separate color fans for each color, but you can just as easily make yourself a rainbow version. Give each child one paint chip and challenge him/her to find a match for that color in a work of art. (Be sure to remind the kids not to touch the art with their hands or the paint chip). For older kids, ask them how many shades  and tints of one color they can find in a single work of art. Take a look over at the Frugal Family blog to see how she used paint chips in a similar way for an outdoor scavenger hunt.

Color Mixing

For preschoolers, a fun mess-free way to practice color-mixing while in the galleries is with paint chip flash cards. Set up color equations for your child to solve, then try to find the resulting color in the art. Older elementary children can use their imaginations to create color equations with works of art—what would happen if we could mix this blue painting with that mostly yellow painting?

Build a Color Wheel

A stack of paint chips can quickly be transformed into a portable color wheel. Use the chips to talk about primary colors, secondary colors, warm and cool colors, and let your child move the pieces around accordingly to build a color wheel. Look at a work of art and determine which colors on the color wheel seem to jump out at you. Then take a closer look and think about how those colors work together. Do they complement one another? Do they clash? Do they give a sense of warmth?

Paint Chip Puppets

Color evokes an emotional response in us, and paint chip puppets give young children a more concrete way to think about the connection between colors and feelings. Brainstorm a list of feelings with your child, then try to match those feelings with a paint chip color. Glue on google eyes and draw a face to match that feeling. Glue or tape a popsicle stick to the back, and you have a simple puppet! Bring the puppets with you into the galleries and use them to talk about how the colors of a work of art make your child feel. (My puppets were inspired by the lovely images on this blog).

Paint Chip Collage

This art project is always a favorite of mine when I teach summer camp. Give children a stack of paint chips, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick and let their imaginations go free! And there’s no need to let the kids have all the fun. Make your own paint chip art for your home or just for fun. Some of my favorite tutorials on the web can be found at these sites:

How About Orange

The 3 Rs Blog

Visit this Pinterest board for even more paint chip inspiration.

Posted by: Leah


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Filed under Art Projects, Games, In the galleries, Kindergarten, PreK

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