Complementary Cheetahs


Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I sit down at lunch with our Librarian, Computer Lab/Discoveries teacher, and Spanish teacher. We usually talk about anything but school  but occasionally the conversation winds back around to our classes. Each of these three ladies has done a lot more teaching than me in wide varieties of situations. Each of them has explored different parts of the teaching profession and different age levels. Recently we all sat down and agreed that with the way the curriculum is set up now sometimes it feels like students are missing out on basic everyday information and we were discussing ways to add those into our lessons since we have a little bit more freedom than the classroom teachers. We all left feeling a little refreshed and ready to try and tackle the problem.

I got back to my room though and started thinking, there some core art knowledge I’m skipping because it just feels like there isn’t time. Color theory tends to be a big one. I always have the students make color wheels and we talk about how its used but I’m bad about getting them back out and actually using them! So this year I am trying to be better!

Personally I love color theory and to study it but there is one part that I’m not so fond of…. Complementary Colors. I know we say they “go so well together” but I just disagree. Unless its Christmas time I cringe a little when I see complementary colors together which means its never my favorite thing to teach. This lesson may have changed my mind though. We had so much fun with these Cheetahs and I think they are hilarious!

imageI mean I can’t not laugh when I see these faces.

This lesson also happened to by my observation for this fall too so it was a doozy. of a day when we started this one.

First grade had already covered primary, secondary, and neutral colors. The students also know we are looking at different color groups for each of our projects this year.

I began the lesson with a little refresh of the groups we had studied and asked the students to name which project we used each set on. Then we looked over our color wheels for a minute and I told them they needed to get ready to identify a new group.


Every time we start a new group of colors I try to find a video to play, even better if its a song too. I found this hilarious complementary colors song. It had the kids and the principal in stitches the whole time.

After the video we spent some time looking at our color wheel and identifying the relationship between the complementary colors. We also talked about the places they have seen complementary colors together before and I showed some real life samples.

I asked the students to tell me why they think so may people use complementary colors together and listened especially close for them to say things like “because they look good together” or “because they are pretty.” This opened up our conversation to complement vs compliment. We talked a little about that and how we should always compliment someone when we feel like they are doing a good job.

Then we as the kids would say FINALLY got to drawing. For all the steps and more student samples (seriously check them out they are awesome!) follow the link below…

We started this lesson with pencils and drew the main shapes for our cheetahs. Then we got out some black crayons and gave our outside edges some texture by tracing the pencil with zig zag lines instead of just keeping our lines smooths and straight. The inner lines around the nose and eyes were left smooth and the nose and inside dot in the eye were colored in. Lastly we added some scratchy furry looking spots before putting our black crayons away. This was the end of class for us so I asked the students to wrap up by writing their favorite set of complementary colors on the back of their paper. When they came back the next week they choose one of those colors to add some crayon designs to the background then we broke out the paint.

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We used each of our complementary colors one at a time to keep them from switching and getting their brushes too dirty. They started by painting the background using the complement to the crayon they had chosen. Then they used that same color to fill in the middle parts of the cheetah. Once they were happy with the amount of that color on the page they switched and finished the design with their complements. These turned out fantastic! Every time I look at them I have a new favorite.

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