Spinning Color Wheels


Create cool color tricks while learning about primary and secondary colors and color blending.


1. On thin white cardboard or poster board, use a compass, or trace around an object, to make circles 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter. Cut out the circles with Crayola® Scissors.

2. Draw lines with Crayola Colored Pencils to divide the front and back of each circle into equal pie-like sections.

3. Color the sections with Crayola Crayons. Experiment with varying color patterns on different wheels and predict the results. Poke a small hole in the center of the circle with scissors. A grown up can help you. Pull about 18 inches (45 cm) of yarn or string halfway through the hole.

4. Hold one end of the string in each hand. Swing the string and circle until the entire length of string is twisted. Then give the string a firm, brisk pull. As the wheel spins, watch the colors appear to mix.

5. Complementary colors such as yellow and purple, red and green, or blue and orange will appear muddy brown. Alternating two primary colors will result in the secondary color that those two colors create. For example, when alternating sections are blue and yellow, the spinning wheel will appear to be green. Why does this occur? The wheel spins so fast that instead of seeing each color separately, the eyes and brain see the visual illusion of a mixture.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

String-Like Materials—Includes string, raffia, lacing, yarn, ribbon, and other similar material. Children 3 years and younger should not be given any string-like material that is longer than 12 inches. Close adult supervision is essential whenever children use string-like material. When crafts are to be worn around the necks of children 8 years and younger, attach the ends of the “string-like material” with clear adhesive tape, which allows easy release of the bond if the craft becomes entangled or caught on equipment. For children older than 8 years, the ends of the “string-like material” may be tied and knotted.


  • Younger children can experiment with color mixing using primary colors of paint in small bowls.
  • If students are unfamiliar with the terms primary, secondary, or complementary colors ask the art teacher to share a color wheel. Explore relationships between and among colors. Experiment with color contrasts by mixing paint.
  • Older students explore the role of both the eye and brain in seeing color. Examine how visual perception is affected by eyes, the optical nerve, and sections of the brain.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Crayons
  • Colored Pencils
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
household supplies
  • string
  • posterboard
  • compass (optional)



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Math
  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • Less than 1/2 hour
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Children create and identify secondary colors by mixing different combinations of two primary colors.

  • Children draw circles and divide them into equal sections.

  • Children experiment with visual perception to observe how the eye and brain perceive mixed colors when colors are not mixed.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards