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Preschool Brainiacs vs the Color Wheel

I clearly remember the moment when my passion for color tipped over into full on nerd-dom. I was neck deep in the library stacks at Hartwick College, my alma mater, poking through some old books with the desperate hope that one would give me the glimmer of inspiration required to figure out what the heck I was going to write my Art History thesis about. Finally I stumbled across a slim volume titled something like, "the 15 causes of color in nature". I brought it back to my cabin and although I didn't understand 60% of what I was reading (erm or maybe 90%... I never really took off in chemistry class) I discovered that the color in rainbows, pigment, peacock wings, butterfly wings, oil slicks and so on were caused by all kinds of crazy chemical reactions, light phenomena, surface relationships, etc. While I knew about some of these mechanisms there were others I had never even dreamed of!

When I set out to write my steAm curriculum (big A) years later I wanted to create a color course that encouraged kids to think of color not just as purdy splats on a page but as a complex language rich with dimensions, causes and implications. My first guinea pigs for this lesson were a bunch of exuberant kiddos at a local Santa Cruz preschool. My mission was to squish my ambitious curriculum down into a simple workshop that would keep even the littlest of squirts engaged. And it worked! We explored ratios in color, the shapes of the color wheel (DODECAGON!), little to big, mark making and how illustrators used color in all the beloved classics on their bookshelves. In the end we all did our own "pizza paintings", using colors from only one "slice" of the color wheel. As you might guess this was the highlight- color is after all best served as purdy splats on a page!

Above you see some beautiful designs using only the red to blue slice of the color wheel. Check out that negative space- hubba hubba.

Aaaand a close up of the yellow to red tray. Notice the different brush sizes? Those puppies nicely demonstrated "little to big" and "least vs. most". Math + Art = Win.

"Yellow to Red" and "Red to Blue" paintings showing off their lovely hues.

Framing our beautiful creations for display.

Et voila. Parents bought these bad boys as part of a holiday fundraiser! Financial goals were exceeded and they all lived happily ever after :D


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