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Lesson: True Colors


True Colors


A lesson in which students create a color palette that matches the staff and school


Students will identify different methods for combining different shades of color to ensure colors match and work together. Then students will identify color profiles using these groupings to create a color guide for the class or staff.


  • Students will apply terminology related to color combinations such as analogous, complementary, triad, tetrad and tertiary colors to create a color guide.
  • Students will apply their knowledge about color standards and color combinations to a color palette.
  • Students will identify the hexadecimal colors of specific colors to use within a publication or online site.
  • Students will identify the CMYK value for each color in the color palette.
  • Students will evaluate which color combinations best fit in the color palette they are creating.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.W-9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of a subject.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
CCSS.ELA.Literacy. L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Learning and Innovation Skills Creativity and Innovation
Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
Life and Career Skills Initiative and Self-Direction
Monitor, define, prioritize and complete tasks without direct oversight
Information, Media and Technology Skills ICT Literacy
Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information
Use digital technologies (computers, PDAs, media players, GPS, etc.), communication/networking tools and social networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information to successfully function in a knowledge economy.


120 minutes


Slideshow: Color Combinations

Handout: Color Combinations and Key

Colored Pencils or Crayons

Handout: Hexadecimal and Color Values

Handout: Hexadecimal and Color Values Sample

Handout: Color Guide

Computers with Internet access

Suggested color websites:

○      (Pictaculous)

○      (Lovely Palettes)

○      (Color Picker)

○      (ColoRotate)

○      (Color Scheme Designer)

○      (Color Blender)

○      (Color Explorer)

○      (Colllor)

Lesson step-by-step

1. Build vocabulary — 30 minutes

Use the Color Combinations slideshow to present and explain each key concept. Students will record the information on the Color Combinations handout as you go.

2. Group practice — 85 minutes

Students will apply what they learned from the slideshow and handout to create a color guide using different combinations of colors. Divide students into six groups and assign each group a color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Using their assigned color as a base, students will create a palette of colors that demonstrate analogous, complementary, triad, secondary and tertiary color combinations.

Use hexadecimal values for genuine color shades. Complete Handout 4.3b: Hexadecimal and Color Values by marking the hexadecimal and color values (both CMYK and RGB) for each color used in the palette. You may need to print a few copies for each student depending on how many colors they use. For each color combination, find a different shade of your color to use so you have more options in your color guide. Students can search online for color resources, or you can provide a list of suggested websites.

For each color, students will record the hexadecimal number, color values and true color name on the Color Guide worksheet. For example, red may be fire red, cherry red, and so forth, and they must color or shade their worksheet to match the color. If using colored pencils, make sure you have all possible colors students may need. Students will be evaluated on their palettes using the attached rubric.


Color Palette Evaluation



Unsatisfactory(0 points) Satisfactory(5 points) Total points
Color combinations Color combinations chosen do not adequately show valid color combinations: analogous, complementary, triad, secondary and tertiary. It is clear the student did not look up hexadecimal values or CMYK values. Color combinations chosen effectively demonstrate each color combination: analogous, complementary, triad, secondary and tertiary. ____ / 5
CMYK values The CMYK values for each color are incorrect. The CMYK values for each color are the correct values. ____ / 5
Hexadecimal values The hexadecimal value does not match the color and CMYK values. The hexadecimal number is correct to match the color and CMYK values. ____ / 5
Content Some color combinations are missing, or color combinations included are not correct. All of the color combinations are included: analogous, complementary, triad, secondary and tertiary. ____ / 5
Total points ____ / 20