Search Menu


This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.

How color conveys emotion


Students will analyze the relationships between color and emotions by evaluating ads based on the emotional impact of the color choices. Then students will recreate a yearbook spread or newspaper layout with different color choices to change the emotion it evokes from the reader.


  • Students will explain what emotions specific colors portray.
  • Students will create a layout using a specific color to project a tone or mood.
  • Students will evaluate another student’s layout to determine which emotions are portrayed.

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.


95 minutes


Handout: Colors and emotions

Handout: Color tone evaluation 

Lesson step-by-step

1. Review — 15 minutes

As homework from the previous lesson, students were assigned to research colors and emotions. Using their notes, students will complete the handout Colors and Emotions.

Lead a class discussion to go over each aspect and answer questions as needed to make sure all students have the correct information. Students will turn in their notes and the Colors and Emotions handout.

2. Skill development — 60 minutes

Students will create a three similar spreads, each one with a different color to represent an emotion. Students will start by drawing the basic layout, choosing their photographs based on a common emotion evident in the picture. (Ideally, this will be completed using computers and desktop publishing software, but you also can use layout sheets and a worksheet of sample photos, or students can cut photos from magazines.) Students will then choose a color that corresponds to the chosen photographs. Using this first color, students will place the photos on the layout, using only spot color to convey a specific emotion. After completing the first spread with the first color, students will find a color that portrays the opposite emotion from the first color. They will then use this second color to replace the first color in the spread. Next, students will choose a color related to both emotions already used. They will then replace the colors on the spread with this third color. Using the Color Tone Evaluation worksheet, students will record the three emotions they selected to portray in their layout. After completing each of the three layouts, students will print or save their work.

3. Pair-share — 10 minutes

Working with a partner, students will use the handout Color Tone Evaluation to record the emotion they think is being portrayed.

4. Closure — 10 minutes

Create an exit ticket, journal prompt or class discussion in which students reflect on these questions about how color choices can change a layout:

  • How did it change the skin tone of the people in the pictures?
  • How did it change the emotion projected in the layout?
  • Was it evident which emotion each color was meant to project?
  • Was it evident which colors were meant to portray opposite emotions?
  • Was it evident which colors were meant to portray emotions between the two opposite emotions?