Categories of Color STEAM Lesson

By | 2018-01-02T08:18:43+00:00 May 31st, 2016|

Overview: In this lesson on categories of color in STEAM, students explore the qualities of color and categorize them organically.

Grade level: K-1

Content Areas: Math and Visual Art

If there’s one thing that gets visual art educators passionately talking, it’s color.  Figuring out how to teach it to our youngest learners in Kindergarten and grade one is even more challenging.  And when it comes to the general education math classroom, the measurement and data standards can take quite a bit of time with these same students.  So why not connect both areas?

categories of color lesson


In this free STEAM lesson, kindergarten and 1st grade students explore colors without labels, and categorize them based on similarities of hue, saturation and value.  Of course, at this age level, we’re not going into intense detail about these items.  Instead, we allow students to investigate and experiment with color with limited direction.  They can then discover the variants of color through their own lenses.  This idea (and lesson) was deeply influenced by hearing Olivia Gude share a talk on the topic at the NAEA Conference in Chicago back in March, 2016.

And while we usually connect science and art when it comes to color study, this lesson offers a different perspective. Throughout this process, we can connect authentically the idea of categorization through similar attributes. Students can categorize not only the found objects in the lesson, but also in their own color choices through their final color-grid project.  By intentionally using labels, categories, grids and charts, this lesson offers a great opportunity to utilize common vocabulary, skills and processes across math and art.

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About the Author:

Susan Riley is the founder and President of She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan