Colour Wheel Bugs

These cute bugs are a great way to teach young children about  primary and secondary colours.


  • 6 stones
  • paint in primary colours (red, yellow, blue)
  • paint brushes
  • plastic palette with 6 spaces
  • decorations eg. pompoms, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, felt, etc.
  • white glue
  • colour wheel (available here)

Stones are available at the beach. If you prefer to purchase them, they can be found in garden centres. The palette I used to place the stones in was purchased at DeSerres in Toronto, but most art supply stores should have them. Acrylic paint is best because it will remain permanently on the stones. Tempera and gouche may eventually peel off.


1. Show children a colour wheel and explain how the primary colours (red, yellow, blue) are special because they cannot be made by mixing other colours together. This site has a good colour wheel and explanation of colour theory:

I have excluded the intermediate colours from this project in order to simplify things for young children, but you can always point them out in your colour wheel. Provide the three primary colours and ask them to paint one stone in each colour- one red, one blue, one yellow. Set them aside to dry. Next, explain that by mixing two primary colours together, you get what is called a secondary colour:

red + blue = violet
yellow + red = orange
blue + yellow = green

Have them mix these colours and paint the three remaining stones in the secondary colours: one violet, one orange, one green.

2. Once paint has dried, lay out an assortment of decorations (see material list) and have them choose matching colours to decorate each stone eg. blue pipe cleaners and pompoms for blue stone.

3. Place stones in the palette.

4. Print and cut out the colour wheel available above in the material list and glue it in the centre of the palette, with each circle of colour corresponding to the appropriate stone. They now have their very own colour wheel and a basic understanding of what colours can do when mixed together.

Great books to accompany this project:

Color Dance by Ann Jonas:

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni:

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  1. Pingback: Twitted by deserrestoronto

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