Learning about Color Theory with Cupcakes

Color Wheel Cupcakes

Today Otter had a lesson in color theory. We made a color wheel featuring primary, secondary and tertiary colors out of cupcakes and frosting! I like scheduling in activities like this into our homeschool, especially on Friday. It’s a great way to wrap up the week and something to look forward to all week long.

Here’s what we used:

  • white frosting in 2 tubs
    • We used Betty Crocker Whipped Fluffy White Frosting. I recommend having 2 tubs on hand in case you need to mix up some extra primary colors in order to have enough frosting to mix up the other colors.
  • cupcakes made from a cupcake mix
  • 6 bowls / small plates to mix frosting in
  • several spoons (a fresh spoon for each new color)
  • food coloring (you need the primary colors red, blue and yellow)

First, Otter whipped up a batch of cupcakes during lunch. He LOVES to cook and bake.

Chocolate cupcakes!!!!!

After the cupcakes cooled he got started on the project! He mixed up 3 small bowls of red, yellow and blue frosting.

Frosting and food coloring

Frosting in primary colors

We set up 9 cupcakes on a plate and frosted the first 3 in the primary colors:

Hey, look! It’s a smurf cake!

The next step was to start mixing the secondary colors. Otter started with a mixture of red and yellow first. Note: you aren’t going to get a deep, rich red using food coloring unless you put in a million drops, so we settled for a pinky sort of red and worked with that.

Mixing red and yellow to make orange

Then he mixed his new color with yellow to make a tertiary color – an orange-yellow:

He continued mixing colors until he completed the color wheel!

First (primary colors):

red, blue, yellow

Then (secondary colors):

red + blue = violet
red + yellow = orange
blue + yellow = green

Then (tertiary colors) :

violet + red = violet-red
orange + yellow = orange-yellow
green + yellow = yellow-green


Afterwards he was free to experiment with the frosting to mix up any colors he desired to frost the rest of the cupcakes.

This is a great hands-on activity for any age. It looks pretty, tastes good and teaches a bit of color theory (so mark it in your homeschool planner as art, or home ec. or both, lol).

So we made a bit of a mess, but…

Cupcake mess!

We also made a great memory (and a yummy dessert, lol)!

Here are some additional color theory activities or resources:

Paper towel color wheel activity

Color theory worksheet

Interactive color wheel

Fun Fall Vocabulary Activity

I got this fun fall vocabulary activity idea from the Words on the Vine Vocabulary workbook. We were studying words that have the Latin root foli (which means leaf). The page said to cut out the little pictures of leaves directly from the workbook, but they were tiny and wouldn’t have looked very nice with text from the next workbook page printed on the other side.

Instead, I printed out some free leaf templates from Enchanted Learning onto some thick, smooth paper and pulled out our box of crayons. Otter and I got to work (gotta love having an excuse to color). Coloring on that slick paper was a joy. The crayons went on in a heavy, buttery layer. Even my 21 year old daughter came over and helped color the leaves. It was like having a little homeschool flashback to when we’d all sit around the table working on a project (way back when I was teaching 3 instead of one!). Of course I had to tease her though! She looks pretty when she blushes. Wink

After coloring and cutting the leaves out, Otter wrote his vocabulary words and definitions on the blank side of each leaf:

Then he punched holes on the stem side and strung the leaves up on some yarn. We hung the vocabulary leaves on our fireplace as a fall decoration.

I can’t believe we’re already seeing signs of fall! The leaves on our front yard tree are steadily falling and we saw our first V’s of migrating birds numbering in the hundreds just the other day.

If you’d like to do this activity, you can use your own vocabulary words or you can use words with the root foli in them.

I love doing activities like this. They help break you out of the regular routine a little and make schoolwork a bit more fun (and they give you a good reason to break out those crayons, even if your youngest is a teen). Wink

Now every time Otter looks at our fireplace he can be reminded of the words he studied and we have a nice decoration to celebrate the first signs of fall.