Fun Color Wheel Ideas and Sensory Activity
Kids love to get messy! They love to get their hands dirty and explore using their senses. I am a strong believer that hands-on learning, sensory play and exploration are some of the best ways to learn. This sensory activity is a simple twist on a regular color wheel.
Sensory play allows kids of all ages to learn and experience the world using their senses. These color wheel ideas are a great sensory activity to do outside, and are perfect for the classroom or at home.
I did this sensory activity with a group of children several months ago. Recently I did it with my own kids at home, and they loved it!
Sensory Activity Materials
One of the great things about this sensory activity is that you can use materials that you already have at home. Below I have listed what I used, but you can substitute materials for things you have on hand.
- Paint (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple)
- Color Wheel (Link to printable available at bottom).
- Large bowls
- Materials to Add to the Paint (Soap, Couscous, Flour, Baking Soda, Shaving Cream, Salt)
For this art activity, you will need several large bowls. One for each color you want to use. You will need 6 bowls if you want to create a full color wheel.
I used really large bowls because I did the activity with a class of over 20 children. The large bowls made it easy to share the paint.
To each color, you will add one material. I mainly added materials from my kitchen because it was easy to get my hands on.
Make sure that if you are working with young children that they know not to eat the paint, even though there are some food ingredients mixed in.
For the most part, I mixed the sensory materials in before giving the paint to the children.
I added the following to my paints: couscous, dish soap, shaving cream, baking soda, flour and salt.
For this art activity I wanted kids to create a color wheel. I also wanted to have them create it through sensory play. There is a free color wheel printable that I used for this activity. Link at bottom.
On its own, finger painting is a great sensory activity for kids. Adding materials to the paint changes, and adds to the activity.
I have done finger painting many times with my own kids and they always love it, but this was a whole new experience!
Using large bowls, I added each of the colors needed to create our color wheel. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
In each of the paints I added something so that it was textured. You can add whatever you have on hand. I added something different to each color.
For the purple color I added flour which created a kind of paste.
To the yellow, I added couscous. Children found the yellow tricky to paint with.
However, it was a great material for sensory play because it made the paint feel different from what they were expecting.
The children were also very aware of the feeling on their finger as they rubbed the paint and couscous onto the page.
I added some soap to the green paint. The soap did not change the feel of the paint as much as the couscous, but it did create an interesting feeling of the paint being “slippery”.
I added some shaving cream into the red paint and children LOVED watching me squirt into the paint and mixing with their fingers.
Baking soda was also added into the blue paint which created a “crunchy” texture compared to the flour.
To the orange paint I added some table salt. I encouraged children to describe how each of the paints felt when they painted with it.
It was a great way for them to reflect on what they were feeling, but I was also really impressed with the adjectives they came up with. The salt felt “gritty” and “sandy”.
This is a wonderful, and easy activity to encourage sensory play at home, or anytime with kids.
On its own, finger painting is a great sensory experience, but adding different materials to the paint changes and heightens the experience.
I have done this type of sensory play before, but have switched up the materials that I add to the paint depending what I have available.
Some extra ideas of materials to mix in are: oatmeal, cornstarch, cereal, rice, sprinkles, sparkles, honey, applesauce. The options are endless!
If you want to try this activity with really young kids who you worry may try to taste the paint, you still can!
Even young child love sensory play and painting. If you want to try the color wheel with children that may be tempted to eat it, you can try doing it another way.
Always keep in mind allergies and not using food that is unsafe or a child has not tried before.
When my kids were young, I used to use plain or vanilla yogurt and with a few drops of food coloring in it to change the color. You could add the juice from a strawberry to turn it red also if you want to avoid food coloring.
My kids would finger paint using the yogurt and I didn’t have to worry if they ate any of it.
Using the yogurt as the base, you can then add different materials to the yogurt to add texture. Again make sure that everything you add is editable and safe for the children (don’t add anything that may pose a choking hazard).
You could try adding apple sauce, or a little bit of cooked rice. This will create texture to the yogurt and allow children to get the sensory experience from the paints.
With young children, you also don’t have to use the color wheel. Simply give children a sheet of paper and let them paint. Have fun creating!
I loved using the color wheel printable because I think it keeps this sensory play from getting overly messy. Children worked really hard to keep each paint color inside the proper part of the color wheel.
FREE Sensory Activity Color Wheel Printable
For a FREE color wheel printable you can use with this activity, click the image below to subscribe.
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Hands-On Teaching Ideas
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From a collection of painting activities and science experiments to escape rooms and printables, there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning. Click image for activity description.