Color Mixing Ballons

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this lesson! It's colorful, fun, and full of cheer! :)

To begin, start by reviewing color mixing with your students. If you're teaching upper elementary they probably already know that a primary color + a primary color = a secondary color.. but do they know that a primary color + a secondary color = a tertiary (or intermediate) color?
This lesson is GREAT for teaching about those tertiary colors!

After reviewing, give students a sheet of heavy drawing paper and have them LIGHTLY draw out 6 (or 7 if you want to add a second red balloon next to the purple to be able to create red-violet) balloon shapes (upside-down egg with a small trapezoid at the bottom) that overlap each other. The size of the paper is totally up to you, but this lesson does lend itself to doing some different sizes (like tall and narrow).

Once the balloons are drawn, have students paint in every other balloon a primary color with watercolor paints. The first balloon should be red, the third should be yellow, and the fifth should be blue. I personally like painting them so that one side of the balloon is more heavily saturated with color (to help create the illusion of form) - but the highlights we add later will do this as well.

At this point it will likely be the end of class. This is a great stopping point because it allows the primary color balloons to fully dry before painting the secondary color balloons. You want them to be dry so that the colors don't accidentally bleed into areas that are not actually overlapping.
If you're using watercolor paper, the water in the paint will sit on the surface longer - so it's even more important to make sure that it's FULLY dry before continuing. 
If you're using a heavy drawing paper (recommended) then it should just take a few minutes for it to dry out enough to be able to continue painting.
Students will need to paint the secondary colors into the remaining blank balloons, keeping rainbow order in mind. This is a great opportunity to have students problem solve to determine which color goes where. For example, there's an empty balloon in-between the red and the yellow balloon. What color would be made if red and yellow were mixed together? Orange!
As students start painting in the secondary colors and they overlap the primary colored balloons, they'll start to see the tertiary (or intermediate) colors coming through!
What happens when the purple balloon overlaps the blue balloon? Blue-violet is made!

Once everything is completely dry, give students colored pencils to add the ties and ribbons to the bottoms of the balloons. 

Then finally using a white chalk pastel, have them add a highlight (or more) to each balloon. To get the most realistic highlights, the curvature of the highlight line should match that of the balloon (so rounded like the edge of the balloon). Have student lightly blend in the chalk pastel with their finger.
The highlight is what really makes the balloon look like a balloon! :)

To add a nice finishing touch, try mounting the pieces of art of black construction paper. Then using all those bits of colored scrap paper (that I KNOW you have haha), add some confetti pieces to the border. I think this finishing touch REALLY makes this lesson even more fun looking!

If you'd like the full lesson with all the resources used (including two amazzzzzzing PowerPoints), check it out in my shop. :)

1 comment

  1. This is a great project! I love it and am doing it soon. Thanks for sharing it.