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Colourful idea

Primary pupils are often introduced to colour theory in art through being encouraged to copy the colour wheel, mixing the primary colours to produce the three secondary colours. To extend this, I show the pupils a copy of the colour wheel and discuss how any three colours next to each other, for example, redorangeyellow belong to the same "family" and provide colour harmonies.

Then I explain how colours opposite each other, for example, greenred will produce maximum colour contrast (complementary opposites).

I provide sheets of coloured paper, one of each of the colours on the wheel. The pupils then have to cut small samples of each colour and make all the different colour combinations possible, such as opposites: greenred; and harmonies: redorangeyellow. The pupils can be encouraged to stick the combinations into their sketchbooks, annotating them as they go.

Pupils can also investigate what happens when two primary colours are placed next to each other, as well as collecting examples of different shades of the same colour from glossy magazines or newspapers. This will help them make informed decisions about which colours to use in a collage or painting.

It makes a great introduction to a new project and should be something pupils refer back to.

James Sharp, arts co-ordinator at Elmhurst Primary School, in the London Borough of Newham

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