How to Teach Preschool Students the Primary Colors

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Teaching preschool students about the primary colors of light is a fun way to introduce colors and the concept of mixing color combinations. This project can be done in the classroom as a group and uses basic materials. Having preschoolers create a finger-painted color wheel can be messy, so make sure to have students dress for mess or have smocks available.

  • Pictures showing the primary colors
  • Color wheel
  • Smocks
  • Finger paint paper
  • Red, yellow, blue finger paint
  • Markers

1 Find images

Find images of items showing the primary colors of light--red, yellow and blue--and post them around the room at students' height. Do this before working with preschool students. Along with posting images showing colors, post a color wheel at the front of the room.

2 Gather students

Gather students and have them take turns recognizing the colors found in the images around the classroom. Write the names of the primary colors on the white board or chalkboard at the front of the room next to the color wheel. Discuss the color wheel with preschool students and how the primary colors can be mixed to create the secondary colors--orange, green and violet.

3 Provide each student

Provide each student with a sheet of finger paint paper at her work area. Explain to students they will be creating their own finger paint color wheel.

4 Place a spoon

Place a spoon full of red finger paint at the top and middle of each preschool student’s finger paint paper. Place a spoon full of yellow finger paint at the bottom right of each student's paper, and a spoon full of blue finger paint at the bottom left.

5 Allow students

Allow students to mix their finger paints and try to create the secondary colors. Provide additional finger paint to students as needed.

6 Write names on students papers

Write names on students’ papers as they finish and allow to dry.

7 Provide each preschooler with a marker

Provide each preschooler with a marker, when finger paint colors wheels are dry, and have them write the colors on their color wheel using the colors written on the white board or chalkboard at the front of the room. Provide help as needed. Post the finger paint color wheels around the room for others to see.

Sarah Lipoff has been writing since 2008. She has been published through BabyZone, Parents, Funderstanding and Lipoff has worked as a K-12 art teacher, museum educator and preschool teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science in K-12 art education from St. Cloud State University.