SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades

Students trace circles, divide them into 6 parts and then use watercolours to mix shades of 4 different colours and paint the circles so they look like thin slices of fruit.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 3


Language Arts
Visual Arts


gradation resist shades tints


Crayola Watercolour Paints - 8 Count Crayola Paintbrushes - 5 Count Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Regular Crayons - White 2 Sizes of Circle Tracers - 9 cm diameter & 7.5 diameter (3 ½" & 3") Pencils Rulers Water Containers Paper Towels

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SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step One

Step One

  1. Fold your paper in half long end to long end.
  2. Open the paper and fold it in half again this time short end to short end.
  3. You should have 4 equal rectangles. 
  4. Use the big circle tracer to draw a circle in each rectangle.
  5. Use the small circle tracer to draw a circle inside the big circle so the centres line up.
  6. This will become the rind or skin of your fruits.
SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use the lines on the small circle tracer to mark 6 dots around the outside edge of the small circles you drew on your paper.
  2. Use a white crayon and a ruler to connect the dots across from each other.
  3. Colour around the edge of the small circle with the white crayon.
  4. The white crayon will resist the paint and make a border around each section after it is painted.
SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Make a small puddle of green paint in the lid of the paint box. 
  2. Do all your mixing with this paint. 
  3. Paint directly on the dry paper.
  4. Use green paint to paint the first section of the lime. 
  5. Gradually add a small amount of black paint so that each slice is slightly darker than the one before it. 
  6. The 6th or final section should be pure black. 
  7. Clean your brush and paint box lid with paper towel.
  8. Get clean water.
  9. Repeat the painting process for one of the other circles using orange paint. 
SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Four

Step Four

  1. For the remaining 2 circles first wet the paper before adding paint. 
  2. Make sure the water is clear.
SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Notice how the paint flows on the paper.
  2. How is this different than painting on dry paper?
  3. Repeat the process using red paint for the last circle.
SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Six

Step Six

  1. View your finished work with fresh eyes.
    - How can you tell if the paint was applied on dry or wet paper?
    - What did you learn about mixing shades?
    - What fruits do these circles remind you of? Why?
    - What do you like best about your painting?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • use watercolour paints to accurately mix shades so that each colour is slightly darker than the one preceding it;
  • explain their process;
  • express opinions about the paintings; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment.


Have students:

  • experiment with ways to make colours lighter by adding white paint or water to dilute the pigment;
  • compare their results;
  • examine a variety of art postcards and/or small reproductions of paintings;
  • identify tints and shades in the pictures;
  • sort a variety of paint chips;
  • arrange the colour chips from lightest to darkest;
  • mix some of the colours to match those in the reproductions and the paint chips;
  • explain how they did it.


  1. Ensure that all materials are available for this lesson.
  2. Teach the vocabulary.
  3. Prepare anchor charts of shades of a variety of colours for students to refer to.
  4. Download and display the Value poster available on this website.
  5. Print enough circle tracers for students to share. (Downloads - Circle_Template.pdf)
  6. Download images that are good examples of the use of tints and shades from the Internet, e.g.,
    Still Life
    Basket of Fruit


  1. View and discuss various artworks that are good examples of the use of tints and shades focussing on how these colour concepts contribute to the illusion of depth by creating shadow and light in artworks.
    Still Life
    Basket of Fruit
  2. Explain that for this lesson you will be focusing on shades. 
  3. Have students mix a variety of shades on scrap paper to get a feeling for the appropriate amounts of pigment to add.
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use watercolour paints to accurately mix shades so that each colour is slightly darker than the one preceding it.
  2. Explain what you did.
  3. Express opinions about the paintings.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.

The Process

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - mixed 4 shades of red
    - mixed 4 shades of yellow
    - mixed 4 shades of green
    - mixed 4 shades of orange
    - each colour is slightly darker than the one preceding it
    - compared wet on dry painting technique with wet on wet

    - kept everything in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once the artworks are completed, display them for a group discussion.
  2. Remind students to use the art vocabulary they have learned for this lesson.
  3. Ask students to compare the circles painted on dry paper with the ones on wet paper.
  4. Ask students to share:
    - what they found challenging and what they found easy while doing this painting exercise;
    - what they did to overcome their challenges;
    - what they learned about shades;
    - how they can use what they learned in other projects;
    - what they like best about their painting.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their paintings – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the painting, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Shades_tracking.pdf) 
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Shades_self-assessment.pdf)