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Lesson #2 of Emotive Art Unit


Painting, Social Awareness


K, 1st, 2nd


Art, Social-Emotional Learning


50 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides

What Do Colors Show? (Emotive Art #2)

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Oct 3, 2022


This lesson guides students to explore color in art and the connection of color to emotions. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students explore colors, matching colors that relate to how they are feeling.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students investigate climate change artworks and identify colors and the feeling connected to that artwork.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students create their own color artwork to demonstrate a chosen feeling related to an artwork they are viewing.
Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students engage with hands-on activities to demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between color and emotions.
  • Students understand the meaning of climate change artworks.
  • Students understand why artists use color in their artwork.
  • Students practice painting techniques.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This is lesson 2 of 3 in our K-2nd grade Emotive Art unit.

  • The Teacher Slideshow does not feature an Inquire section. You can use the Teacher Slideshow for the Investigate and Inspire sections of this lesson plan.

  • Make sure you prepare the Feelings Cards, templates, and painting materials prior to the lesson.

  • You can alternatively use cut-up colored paper instead of printing the Feelings Cards.

  • You will need to have artworks printed if you want students to participate in a gallery walk.


  • Students can complete the activities in pairs, small groups, or a whole class, dependent on ability.

  • Students could also split into ability groups to support all students.

Scientist Notes

This lesson builds the capacity of students to analyze the contents in an artwork, probe why the artists used the colors in the piece, and explore the underlying feelings attached to the colors. The activity in this lesson would also enable them to interpret the colors in artworks and communicate their feelings towards extreme climate impact. All the materials featured in the lesson have been verified, and this lesson is recommended for teaching.

15 minutes

  • Teacher reads the book The Mess We’ve Made by Michelle Lord. A copy can be borrowed from the library.

  • Before the reading, teacher tells students that they will explore the connection between emotions and colors in the artworks.

  • During the reading, the teacher pauses on the illustrations and asks students, “What colors are used here? Are they lighter or darker colors? Why do you think they decided to use light colors/dark colors here?”

  • After the reading, students complete the Art Discussion Cards and are encouraged to use them as they share the messages in the story and how they feel.

15 minutes

  • Teacher hands out sets of Feelings Cards to students individually or in partners. Depending on time constraints, teachers have two options:

    • Blank Feelings Cards can be used, with the class deciding on feelings that best match each of the colors on the Feelings Cards.

    • If short on time, the completed Pre-filled Feelings Cards can be used. Teacher can go through the cards with the entire class, as students call out which color matches each of the feelings presented on the cards.

  • Teacher presents the ocean pollution artworks either in a gallery walk activity where students walk around the room and place their cards with the matching artworks or as a whole class activity where students simply hold up their cards.

  • As a class, students discuss the content of the artwork and why the artist chose those colors and feelings to match.

20 minutes
  • Students choose one of the artworks to inspire their own reflective artwork.

  • Students use the Person Template to explore using different varieties of one color to create their art piece. Students could use acrylics or watercolor paints.

  • Students could also add facial features using a marker to share the feelings the artists are creating.


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