A Colorful Way to Get to Know Your Students


The beginning of the year is chock full of excitement.  There are new school supplies to ogle, rooms that have freshly waxed floors and sparkling tables (maybe for the only time all year), and a clean slate, a fresh start for everyone.  For me, the downside to the beginning of the year (aside from saying goodbye to a leisurely summer vacation – sniffle, sniffle), is the repetition of those first few days of class.  At the elementary level, it can take a good week, or longer, before you have greeted every student and reviewed every rule. If you’re like me, by the time Thursday afternoon rolls around your “Welcome Back!” has lost some of its pep and vinegar!

So, how do you keep things interesting for students and yourself?

One activity that I have used and found great success with is a color wheel inspired introduction activity. It begins with a color wheel themed PowerPoint presentation I whipped up to introduce myself to all my students in grades K-5. It’s a quick, engaging way for students to get to know a little more about me, which helps build rapport that lasts throughout the school year. I pair each color of the color wheel with a fun fact about myself. The students love to try and guess what I put for each color!

If you’d like, you can view my PowerPoint by clicking below.


Click to Download a PDF of this PowerPoint

Next, for grades 3 and up, I let students use the color wheel to tell about themselves and their classmates.  You can click below to download the PDF that I use for this activity.


Click to Download PDF


Here’s how it works.

First: Students complete the top of the sheet by writing down one word, idea or phrase that tells about them for each color. For example, a student might write down, “I like swimming in the ocean,” for the color blue or, “I just got new red glasses,” for the color red.

Second: To complete the bottom of the sheet, students meet with each other and record each other’s answers. For example, if I met with a student, the student would record, “Mrs. Crockett likes tomatoes,” in the red portion of the color wheel, and I would record that student’s name and idea for red as well. The goal is for each student to meet with six other students to fill in his or her color wheel completely. I highly recommend modeling this second step so students can see how it works.

Third: Students return to their seats for a class discussion.  This is where you can get really creative.  Here are some sample prompts and ideas to try, depending on the amount of time you have to spend on this activity:

  • Graph the students’ favorite colors
  • Have students meet with certain color partners to answer art questions. For example, “Find your red partner and discuss your favorite artist.”
  • Compile a list favorite sports teams mentioned
  • Ask students questions like: What is the most unusual thing you learned about a classmate during this activity? Did anyone mention traveling this summer?  Who traveled the farthest? Did anyone mention favorite foods?

I collect and read through the color wheel sheets at the end of class.  It gives me an opportunity to get to know my students a little bit more and to see their writing.  Eventually, these sheets will make their way into student portfolios and we will refer back to them during color theory or when I need to quickly assign random partners.

As an added bonus, this project makes Common Core connections in both Math (shapes, fractions) and English/Language Arts (writing, reading).  It is just a small sampling of students’ abilities, but this insight is helpful as I continue to collaborate and integrate Common Core standards.  It also gets students used to cross-curricular conversations right off the bat.  Yes, we are going to talk about fractions and complete sentences in the art room!

For more specific ways to incorporate Common Core State Standards into your art room, sign up for Connecting Arts to The Common Core this September!

Does anyone else use the color wheel for a get-to-know-you activity?

How do you kick off the beginning of the school year? We’d love to know. 

Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Project Manager and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • Erica Stinziani

    Great idea big thanks!!

  • Julia Thomas

    For 3rd-MS, I might have the students use a compass and ruler and draw their own 6/6’s sliced color wheel…students could determine the size as I wouldn’t care about size as long as it fits on the paper….maybe that doesn’t matter either! Why should it? What matters is the even division of 6. I’m not even sure I would tell the students how to do divide it without first allowing them to try it themselves (socratic). There is a simple trick to it, but VERY easy with a compass. Once the kids saw how it’s done, they would be so jazzed! This would engage them to no end…they would love it! Just a bit more patience on my part. I could push it more and allow students the use of three colors to paint the 6 slices…then students write on top of the paint with sharpies. Using watercolors might help with readability. I love the idea of complete sentences! Matt ’em and hang ’em up.

    • Primary crayons or colored pencils would work too and then you have an instant color mixing pre-test!

  • Julia Thomas

    Wow, one more idea…create a circle in the middle of the color wheel…teach kids what happens when all the colors are mixed. Then, students can write in things they have in common students…or what ALL students have in common…not eye color, not age…what is it?

  • Angela V

    An additional idea: I did something similar to this when I was student teaching and my corresponding teacher had me create the table groups assignments after reviewing the charts (a blind eye is always refreshing). Intentionally placing people with varying interests together. As well, in the upper age groups, we paired their “color personalities” in complementary colors. Throughout the year, we would reflect back on how that improved or caused issues at their tables.
    But I love the simplicity of this concept for the elementary grade levels! Thanks for sharing!

  • Julia Thomas

    Angela, great additional idea! I love it.

    I have just created a powerpoint and wanted to upload the working file for any teacher who’d rather not spend an hour and a half like I just did…but this comments section would not let me load it. Email me if you want the powerpoint. Adapt it as you will. You will likely have to change fonts or download them or whatever. juliagthomas@yahoo.com. Here is a sampling of slides…

    • Lacey Toole

      This is an awesome powerpoint! Love the yellow walls :)

  • Ms. K

    I really appreciate this warm-up exercise for elementary students. Our school generally has only a few new students who join us at the start of school. But is always so hard for them to begin the year. This activity forces all the classmates to spend a little time with EVERYBODY, including the new kid. As for other starter activities- I like to test out the activities that I might leave for a substitute teacher in my absence. I have several art related games that I use for a substitute but they are always more effective when you can test and tweak how they are used. My experience in the past has been to fit in a game between a lesson. The timing was always tricky and I find that when I do it at the start of school it puts my mind to ease for those days I might be absent and planning is difficult on short notice.

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