Edible Color Wheel

Are you ready for my all-time favorite art project ever?! I promise you your young elementary school kids will love you forever. What could be better than having fun while learning, making art and then eating your art project afterwards? 'Nuff said.

This project, while ridiculously fun for the kids, really needs planning and forethought on your part for things to move along smoothly. It's okay....I gotcha covered. It will take approximately 1 1/2 hours. I did it at the end of the day, so the last few minutes of class before the kids went home were spent munching on their creation.

You are going to want to purchase these:
  • - dixie cups
  • - fat popsicle sticks
  • - a box of arrowroot cookies
  • - 2 packages of food coloring
  • - Approximately 3-4 containers of vanilla icing (I used "whipped" and it worked well)
  • - small styrofoam plates
  • - A color wheel-cookie mat for each group
This is what the color wheel-cookie mat looks like, and you can whip it up on the computer in Paint in about 3 minutes:

Just print them off on 11x17 paper.

Choose partners for your kids beforehand. I did this project with 25 grade 2's and I didn't want fighting or whining or anything...just fun! So I wrote down a list of kids I thought would work well together in partners. I also needed to put these partners in a group....so decide which groups of two can become a successful group of 4.

I then took 3 dixie cups for each group, and placed a substantial amount of white icing in the cup...I think I basically filled it up. They need enough icing to ice their cookies as well as mix to make other colors and ice those cookies. Take your food coloring and turn the white globs of icing into red, blue and yellow. Use quite a bit of coloring so you have true vibrant colors (not pink, instead of red). Place a popsicle stick in each cup. I had already arranged the desks into groups of 4, so while the kids are out of the classroom (recess, gym, or lunch...you'll definitely need set up time) place a red, blue and yellow cup of icing into the middle of each group. Also place 10 dixie cups and 10 popsicle sticks in the middle as well. Take the arrowroot cookies, which should be shaped like ovals, and break them in half. Place 26 cookies on a paper plate and set that in the middle of the group as well (you could also make this easier and just buy vanilla wafers which are already round....the arrowroots are cheaper though). I covered this up, so once the kids got back in from recess they weren't tempted to stick their fingers in and start playing with it. I also wrote "DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING ON YOUR DESKS" on the board, so when they came in they knew the rules.

The kids came into the classroom with excitement and anticipation as to what could possibly be happening during our art class. They respected the rule on the board and no one touched anything.

I moved the kids into their partners and groups, so that everything was ready to go. Each set of partners needs a color wheel-cookie mat. The partners are working together to complete the color wheel, but sharing icing as a group.

Now for the instructions and rules. I explained that we were going to learn about the color wheel and what colors mixed together to make other colors. Every time we mix a color together, we are going to spread icing on a cookie (*the kids faces lit up!)

  • No eating until the very end. (I explained that if they ate a cookie then they wouldn't have enough to finish the project, and that I would be taking a picture of the completed wheel at the end so they needed all iced cookies present!)

  • No licking icing off your fingers. (This is meant to stop kids from dipping their fingers in and stealing icing. Their hands will get a little messy though, so if they licked to get rid of it I didn't mind. I was just trying to deter the icing stealers :)

  • You can only mix icing when I call your number (I'll get to that later).

  • You must take turns icing the cookies in your partners.
Once the kids understand the rules you are ready to proceed. Now for the number business...I wanted kids to take turns in an orderly fashion, and whenever I number kids off, inevitably I hear "I forget what number I am!" "She's going on 2 and her number is 4!!" To avoid this, I took a crayola washable marker and numbered everyone in the group 1 - 4 by writing the number on the back of their hand (They can't say they don't know what number they are!)

We are (finally) ready to begin! I asked if students knew the primary colors. Once the answers were offered I wrote it on the board. I told the students that one of the partners should take red and ice a cookie and place it at the top of the wheel. The other partner should ice a cookie yellow and place it at the bottom right hand corner of the triangle, and the person who iced red, should now ice a blue cookie and place it at the bottom left hand corner.

I had one of the paper color wheel-cookie mats taped to the board, and I was coloring in the appropriate circles with the appropriate colors to show the students where to place them. I continued to do this for the rest of the lesson.

Now we are onto secondary colors. These are made by mixing two primary colors together. I asked the students if anybody knew what color we would get if we mixed together red and yellow? It was funny because I had one eager kid put up his hand and say excitedly "GREEN!" I told all the #1's to take a clean dixie cup and place a large dollop of red into their cup and the same amount of yellow into the cup and mix it together with a clean popsicle stick. Once they saw what color it was turning when they started mixing, I heard a few excited "it's turning orange!"

Have the partner who iced the yellow cookie (the partners should be alternating back and forth who are icing the cookies) ice this one and place it in between the yellow and red cookie. The #2's should take a clean cup and a large dollop of yellow and a large dollop of blue (I had the students continue to predict what color we would end up with) mix it together and ice a cookie and place it in between yellow and blue. Once this is done and placed on the mat, the #3's should do the same with red and blue, and place it in the appropriate spot on the mat.

*I should note that I didn't let any of the partners or groups get ahead. The whole class mixed up colors, iced the cookie, and placed it on the mat at the same time. We didn't move forward until all the groups were ready.

Now we are onto tertiary colors. These are made by mixing together one primary color and one secondary color. All The #4's need to mix the same amount of red and orange together in a clean cup with a clean popsicle stick. What is this color called? (red-orange). Ice a cookie and place it between red and orange. From here the colors obviously get pretty predictable about what color they turn into and what goes where. Here is the order in which they should be iced:
#1's - orange + yellow
#2's - green + yellow
#3's - blue + green
#4's - blue + purple
#1's - purple + red

Now for the very last cookie. The #2's are going to take a little bit of icing from all the colors and mix it together in the last clean cup. What color do you think we will end up with??

It ends up being a brownish cream or gray (depending on how much of each color the student mixes together). We call this a NEUTRAL color. Browns, creams, grays, etc. fit into the category. This cookie should be iced and goes in the middle of the color wheel.

Now one last thing before the kids can dive in!! I went around to all the groups and took a picture of the partners and their completed color wheel. This is documentation and it's really cute to add the pictures to a class newsletter or add it to the students portfolio. Once the students pictures were taken they can split up their loot and enjoy the fruits of their labor. I swear the kids will be talking about this for weeks afterward!

I won't post any pictures of my students faces, but here is a completed color wheel.


Marinda said...

Wow! This is really detailed and is GREAT for me while I am learning about classroom management and lesson planning. I appreciate this SO much and I would/will LOVE to try it!

Ali said...

Thank you so much for your detailed instructions and pictures. This is fantastic! I am an art docent and I'm only in the classroom once a month, so I get pretty nervous about managing things so they go off without a hitch. This will be very helpful!

Mrs. Birss said...

Marinda and Ali - I'm glad you both found this helpful. I hope this lesson is a great of a success for your both as it was for me and my students!

Anonymous said...

WOW! What a fun project...for someone who is NOT artistic it has been fun reading your blog!

Kindra said...

Thanks Miranda! I really need to get on top of this blog and update it with more projects.

Anonymous said...

Great project. It was used for a cubscout pack in Pennsylvania.

Anonymous said...

This project worked really well! My school only has eleven students, 1st through 6th, and I did it with all of them. Everyone enjoyed helping out and then eating it when they were done. The preparation was pretty simple also. Great Idea!

Anonymous said...

I showed your idea to my wife and asked her to make the icing for my Cub Scouts. She like the idea so much we combined the boys with her girl scout troop. They had a blast and made progress towards earning their respective art badges.

Our 4th grade scouts (and their leaders) thank you!

Jim & Marla