Now that we have covered Colory Theory Part 1 - the color wheel and basic color schemes, we are ready to move on to communicating effectively with color. If you are just stopping by, these are graphic design lesson plans for middle school, intended to introduce students to the fundamentals of communication design. You can start back at the beginning here.
Remember, graphic design is all about communicating a message through pictures and text. When we pick colors for a design, we need to make sure that (1) the message can be clearly seen and (2) the color conveys the appropriate message. Let's take a closer look at each part.
1. Communicating Clearly
Whatever message you want to convey, that message should be able to be seen. Your color choice impacts this a lot. This is extremely important for text.
But... You may object... Red and Green are complimentary colors, right? How can they be a bad color combination? This is where the use of tints and shade come in handy. Lightening the green, or darkening the red, can make it readable and appealing...
Also consider the location of your design when picking colors.
-->Far Away Designs - e.g. billboards, store signs, road signs
Use bright and high contrasting colors that will stand out and be easy to read.
-->Close Designs - e.g. magazine, product label, website
You can get a little wilder with your color combinations, but avoid using light text on dark backgrounds, unless your font is very bold. A dark background makes the text appear thinner than it actually is and can strain the eyes.
2. Communicating Accurately
Secondly, your color choice should accurately reflect your message. We all know that colors make us feel a certain way. The colors you choose for your design will also create a feeling. You want it to help your message, not confuse it.
Your kids already know this. You don't need to teach it, you just need to get your students to think! Write the following colors on the board, and let them fill in the words that come to their mind. I've given you some answers if you get stuck, but see what the kids come up with first. This is also known as the psychology of color.
YELLOW - happiness, attention-grabbing, bright, caution, sun, day
ORANGE - playfulness, youth, joy, heat
RED - love, warning, fire, blood, war, intense
GREEN - nature, growth, money, fresh, life
BLUE - peaceful, soothing, water, sky, stability
PURPLE - royalty, creativity, magician's robe, luxury
BROWN - natural, organic, rustic, earth, dirt, chocolate
BLACK - darkness, classy, sophisticated, sad, serious, night
WHITE - purity, clean, wedding, snow, winter
But of, course, its not that simple. Tints and shades will affect the mood or meaning of a color. Suddenly blue can become somber by adding black, or red can become soft and delicate by adding a touch of white.
3. Activity Time
Think About it...
Ask your students the following question...
If you were making a flyer for a __________________ what COLOR(S) would you use?
--> Health Food Store
--> Jewelry Store
--> Fancy Restaurant
Research & Compare
If you have time, bring old newspapers and magazines and have the kids search for advertisements from the previous list. Compare the answers the students gave to what colors the actual ads are. If you don't have time in class, you can assign it as homework or an extra credit assignment.
Of course there is not a definitive "right" answer and the kids will quickly see that not every bank advertisement is the same color. Sometimes good design requires an ironic color choice for dramatic effect, or a totally unexpected color choice to draw attention. But as I have said before, you have to know the rules of color theory before you are able to break them effectively!
Hopefully this lesson will have your students, and YOU, noticing more of the design world around all of us. Keep your eyes open for how color is used and how it makes you feel. It will improve your own understanding and application of color theory.
A few more fun facts your kids will enjoy...
RED and YELLOW make people hungrier, so you find a lot of restaurants using that combination! Can you name some?
BLUE is the most popular color on earth (think... the sky and ocean), and the most used color for business logos!
WHITE vehicles get in fewer car accidents.
PINK reduces anger and is therefore used in many prisons and mental health institutes.
For more color fun, check out these great infographics on color psychology and the meaning of colors in different cultures.
Vowels, can be tricky. I discovered just how confusing the English language is when I began learning other languages. There are so many sounds that one vowel can make, but I have chosen to start with just the short sound first. As I get later in the alphabet, I start explaining how some *special* letters make more than one sound. Now on to Ee... If you can get your hands on some plastic Easter eggs, there are SO many cool learning games you can do throughout the week.
Ellie the Elephant
Ellie the Elephant,
So big, so fat.
She walks like this,
She walks like that.
She has no fingers,
She has no toes.
But goodness gracious!
What a long nose!
Jolly Phonics - E
Eggs in the pan, /e/ /e/ /e/
Eggs in the pan, /e/ /e/ /e/
Eggs in the pan, /e/ /e/ /e/
Crack the egg like this - /e/
(To the tune of Skip to my Lou)
Here are some classics for the Letter E. I am not a huge fan of Clifford books, but the kids LOVE him, and its a good opportunity to practice the short sight words "big" "red" and "dog".
Elmer is the most fun and simple enough for the kids to follow.
The E coloring activity is pretty simple and flexible. It is an "e - envelope". I chose to have the students glue them to card stock so that I could easily put it in their activity binder. But you can also leave it as an envelope that they can carry around. Step 1 : Color, Step 2: Cut, Step 3: Glue the E card to the outside and put the rest inside. You can either buy envelopes or use a template to create your own. Its also super fun to color Elmer. I got this coloring page from AZcoloring.com.
Please download my letter E coloring page and flashcards to use for personal and educational purposes. Do not sell them or offer them as your own. Do give proper credit.
The flashcards are formatted for A4 and can be printed back to back, cut and laminated. There is a color and a black and white version in case you want to save on printing costs and do the coloring yourself.
Rio 2016 is officially underway and the Thompson family plans to spend a lot of time binge watching sports and athletes that we do not normally follow. During the 2008 Olympics, I was 37 weeks pregnant with our first kid and by the time the 2012 Olympics rolled around we had three kids. Can I just say I am thankful we only added one more since London? Now I am excited that my kids are old enough to watch the Olympics with me. Together we will be awed by the dedication and ability of the world’s top athletes.
As a kid, I was a total Olympic junkie. My childhood heroes were Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Shannon Miller and of course Kerri Strug, who’s dramatic clenching of the gymnastics Team Gold in ’96 is still a regular topic of conversation between me and my sister. My childhood villains were the likes of Tonya Harding and the whole Romanian gymnastic squad. I read books about these people, dreamed about being in the Olympics, and occasionally pretended to be a figure skating champion. On my driveway. With my roller blades. All this to say, the Olympics was pretty big and special to me.
Since we have chosen to live far, far away, there is a lot about my childhood that my kids will never experience. Sometimes it hits me while talking to friends back home. There is a longing somewhere within me to live out the nostalgia of my childhood through my kids, to see them experience the same things I did. I know those things. I can navigate those situations with confidence, understanding the system. Instead, I often feel clueless about how it feels to be a third culture kid! Perhaps that is one reason I am so excited about watching the Olympics as a family. Maybe this is something our childhoods can share.
As we watch, I know that I wouldn’t trade my childhood, but I wouldn’t trade theirs either. When my son excitedly roots for a Thai weightlifter because “My friends live there!” or as we all cheer on the first Indian gymnast to make it to the Olympic stage, I remember and appreciate the value of their experiences. My kids will grow up with an awareness of the world’s people and cultures that I have only begun to understand my own lack of. I cannot wait to see how their childhood shapes them and I pray that they will be agents of peace and change in our broken world.
The summer travel season is coming to a close. We took three trips this summer - one out of the country, one out of the state, and one just outside of our city. Travel has become part of every day life for us. We have spent the last five years in planes, trains and automobiles across the world.
There is one time I remember other passengers complaining about someone in my family. Honesty time... it was ME. I was 13 and traveling on a plane for the first time. That was also the one and only time I have ever been upgraded to first class due to overbooking. My ears hurt so bad that I didn’t realize I was stomping loudly on the floor. A stewardess politely came over and asked me to stop because I was disturbing people. Oops. I was humiliated and stopped immediately. But when my 2 month old has been screaming during the ear-popping descent, I don’t ever remember feeling judged by anyone. Or maybe I was too tired to care.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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