7 Ways to use Paint Chips in the Art Room

Paint chips are a great manipulative for the art room. They are free, easy to find, and pretty! I wanted to compile some of the ideas I have come across and others I use myself in the art room. This isn’t an excuse to deplete your local hardware store of paint chips. Use at your discretion, and have fun!

7 Ways to Use Paint Chips in the Art Room 

1.  Paint Chip Cities

This idea excites me because you are using the paint chips to create a piece of original art, and you have to look closely to see what the buildings are made of! What a cool collage!

2. A Review of Tints and Shades

Label the paint chips and keep them within view of the students during a color mixing project. This not only provides a great reminder but shows a visual cue for students who often forget the concepts from class to class.


3. Tints and Shades Game

Use cut apart paint chips to create a matching game. Students must line them up from darkest to lightest, reviewing tints and shades. But don’t stop there!  Sort warm, cool, and neutral colors or even make your own color wheel. The possibilities are endless. I also have another color sort game, if you are interested.

4. Paint Chip Sculptures

Because paint chips are a little heavier, consider using them for sculpture. Orbs are fun, as well as boxes. It’s a great way to introduce 3D art to students if you are short on clay or don’t want the mess of paper mache. I equate it to origami.

5. Color Naming Game

I tried this game with students, and it was a HUGE hit! They each got a small swatch cut off from a paint chip. Then, they had to come up with a new name for the color. If they used the word “tint” or “shade” in their name, it was bonus points. I was blown away by what they came up with.  I think the kid below was trying to call it “Green Lair.” Ha!

6. Review Geometric Shapes and Patterns

I envision doing something like this with kindergarten or preschool students. It will help them identify shapes, make shapes and form patterns with the different colors. Maybe this wouldn’t be a finished piece of art, but an activity or process to do before the art project.

7.  Flashcards

Think of all of the colorful types of assessments you could create with paint chips as the “card!” Creating cards that students can test themselves with on paint chips adds a layer of fun. Students could even write artist statements on them!

What else would you add to the list?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Karen

    I will give each table a print from the artist we are currently learning about and a box full of paint chips. As a group they have to find five colors that match colors in the painting. Then individually, everyone at the table has to write a sentence for each of the names of the paint chips. The sentence may not be “The name of the color is…”. I also have them underline the name of the paint chip.

  • Jen

    I love the buildings made from paint swatches. I always feel bad about going to the store to get paint swatches when I know I’m not getting them to paint a room. But can they blame me? I may not be painting the walls, but I’m helping make pretty art for the walls.

  • Check with a paint supply company like Dulux or Kelly Moore. Paint companies create fan decks of paint chips (with hundreds of strips in each deck) for interior designers, and building/contruction companies. I managed to get my hands several fan decks when they were updating their products/colors. I made some matching games etc. I also taped long strips together, laminated them, then used them as a border on my bulletin boards…guilt free!!

  • I can’t believe I never thought of using paint chips before!! Ohhh, what a wonderful idea! I simply can’t wait to use your ideas with my students! :) Thank you!

    • jess

      Glad it helped! :)

  • Hey, just a friendly correction. The buildings are from this site. http://www.oopsicraftmypants.com/2009/10/paint-chip-city-art-journal-page.html

    Nikki @ the ambitious procrastinator

  • Cathy

    I love these ideas! I even like the “geometric shapes for patterning #6” idea for just a piece of art to hang on the artroom wall as inspiration for students.

  • Alecia Eggers

    I love these!  My kindergartners just completed paint card cities (based on the exact same image you have for the first suggestion :) ),  concentrating on primary and secondary colored buildings and cities.  One section (at a different school) made a mural of primary cities on one large roll of paper instead of individual ones – which was also spectacular!  I love all your other ideas for using them in the art room – so of course had to give you a shout out on my post: http://polkadottedcanvas.blogspot.com/2012/04/kindergarten-ka-and-kc-paint-card.html 

    • Thanks, Alecia! Your artwork looks great- thanks for the shout out!

  • anna

    thank you it’s really help my thesis.
    by the way I’m really gratefull if you can help me with my thesis.
    my thesis is “the use of paint chips to teach deacriptive text”
    I’m really grateful if you can send some ebook or article related to my thesis. my email is jiyuchan17@gmail.com