SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades

Students use watercolour paints to mix shades as thin slices of fruit.

Required Time

60 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 3


Art Techniques
Language Arts
Visual Arts


gradation resist shades tints


Circle Tracers Pencils Paper Towels Water Containers Crayola White Crayons Rulers Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper Crayola Watercolour Paints


SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step One

Step One

Divide your paper into four equal rectangles. Use the big circle tracer to draw a circle in each rectangle. Use the small circle tracer to draw a circle inside the big circle. This will become the rind or skin of your fruits.

SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Two

Step Two

Use the small circle tracer to mark 6 dots around the outside edges of the small circles on your paper. Use a white crayon and a ruler to connect the dots. Colour around the edge of the small circle with the white crayon.

SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Three

Step Three

The white crayon will resist the paint and make a border around each section after it is painted.

SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Four

Step Four

Make a small puddle of green paint in the lid of the paint box. 

SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Five

Step Five

Do all your mixing with this paint.




SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Six

Step Six

Paint directly on the dry paper. Use green paint to paint the first slice of the lime. Gradually add a small amount of black paint so that each slice is slightly darker than the one before it. The sixth or final slice should be pure black. Clean your brush and paint box lid with paper towel. Get clean water. Repeat the painting process for one of the other circles using orange paint. 


SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Seven

Step Seven

For the remaining two circles first wet the paper before adding paint. 

SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Eight

Step Eight

Notice how the paint flows on the paper. How is this different than painting on dry paper? Repeat the process using red paint for the last circle.


SLICES OF COLOUR – Mixing Shades - Step Nine

Step Nine

Label each slice as follows:
- Shades of Lime
- Shades of Orange
- Shades of Lemon
- Shades of Grapefruit

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Use watercolour paints to accurately mix shades so that each colour is slightly darker than the one preceeding it;
  2. Explain their process;
  3. Express opinions about the works; and
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.


  1. Have students experiment with ways to make colours lighter by adding white paint or adding water to colour to dilute the pigment. Encourage them to compare their results.
  2. Provide a variety of art postcards and/or small reproductions of paintings. Invite students to identify tints and shades in the pictures.
  3. Provide a variety of paint chips for sorting. Have students arrange the colour chips from lightest to darkest. Ask them to try to mix some of the colours on the chips and to be able to explain how they did it.
  4. Have students create a still life painting of a variety of fruits using tints and shades.
  5. Have students write an Acrostic poem using descriptive language to describe the appearance and taste of each fruit.


  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 the Colour and Value posters available on this website.
  5. Print enough circle tracers for students to share. (Download - CIRCLE_Template.pdf)


  1. Show and discuss various artworks that are good examples of the use of tints and shades. Discuss how these concepts contribute to the illusion of depth, shadow and light in artworks.
    Still Life
    Basket of Fruit
  2. Explain that for this lesson you will be focusing on shades. 
  3. Give students an opportunity to 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 preceeding it.
  2. Explain what you did.
  3. Express opinions about the works.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment.

The Process

  1. Ensure that all students have access to the needed materials.
  2. Make sure that everyone understands the process.
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5. Provide individual support and assistance as needed.


  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.


  1. Observe students as they work  – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
    (Download - SHADES_tracking.pdf)
  3. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - SHADES_self-assessment.pdf)