Color Wheel Cupcakes (art you can eat! yummy!)

colowheel finished closeup_April 26, 2015

colowheel finished2_April 26, 2015An art project that you can eat? Oh yeah, baby! Learning about color mixing can be both fun, educational, and delicious! This project gives a whole new meaning to, “Taste the Rainbow.” 😀

My sister and her two boys were in town this past week, visiting my parents, so I traveled home for some family bonding. As the youngest of six with seventeen nieces and nephews to give my auntie lovin’ to, my siblings always appreciate when I do art projects with their children. Kelly’s boys are five and three, the perfect age for learning about color mixing, but not the perfect age for sitting still for very long…unless you really captivate them with something…like cupcakes and frosting!

For this project, I made “healthy(ier) cupcakes” by following a low-carb/ gluten free, recipe from alldayidreamaboutfood.com, but you can use your favorite cupcake recipe. My favorite frosting recipe is not as healthy…I am working on finding a better cream cheese frosting recipe that gives the consistency I love, but there are a ca-jillion recipes out their to sift through (hahaha, yes, pun intended!). The cupcakes turned out really delish! My family has a love for coconut anything, so these were a big hit. I used agave syrup instead of stevia, but next time I  might just use honey. You could also make sugar cookies or use Nilla Wafers; Bake to Nature and 365 have healthier alternatives (no high fructose corn syrup, etc.)

Learning Objectives

To learn about mixing secondary and tertiary colors from the primary colors to compose all the colors of the color wheel. Also to learn that color mixing and art can be edible and delicious too! You can teach about warm/ cool colors and complementary colors as well, but chances are they are going to want to eat their color wheel shortly after making it, so the attention span gets kinda short after the frosting is mixed and applied to the cupcakes ;).

Materials

mini-cupcakes (or wafer cookies), pre-mixed red, yellow, and blue frosting, containers, paper towels, spatulas

do they looked jazzed, or what?!? cupcakes, pre-mixed frosting in primary colors, containers, spatulas, paper towels

  1. Cupcakes (I made mini cupcakes and followed this recipe)
  2. Frosting (I used a cream cheese frosting)
  3. Food Coloring (Red, Yellow, and Blue–I also used a little “teal” from a gel packet to make my blue a little on the cool side {pthalo–for all those painters} to make for a better green)
  4. Twelve containers for mixing (I used Gladware)
  5. Mini Spatulas (for mixin’ and spreadin’)
  6. Paper Towels
  7. *Table Covering (optional)

Procedure

Step One: Preparing your Materials and Space

  1. Set up your space so that you have your cupcakes ready, nine containers at hand, and your three containers of the red, yellow, and blue frosting that you already mixed. Use mini-spatulas for mixing in the containers and little cheese spreaders for frosting the cupcakes. You may want to cover the table with a vinyl or plastic tablecloth, or use placemats or paper towels to keep the mess contained…

Step Two: Mixing the Secondary and Tertiary Colors

  1. Begin by asking/ discussing what the primary colors are and why they are called the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue–because you cannot mix other colors to make them, but you can mix these colors to make all other colors). Then, ask/ discuss what happens when red and yellow are mixed (orange), when red and blue are mixed (purple), and when yellow and blue are mixed (green). Explain these are called the Secondary colors. Have student(s) decide which Secondary color they want to mix first.
  2. Add equal parts of yellow and red frosting into a container and demonstrate how to mix the colors. Little hands might need some assistance at first, but they will get the hang of it. The three year old did a great job mixing, too! Repeat with equal parts red and blue in a container, and equal parts yellow and blue in a container. Assess and decide if more of a color needs to be added to a container to make a balanced Secondary color.
    equal parts yellow and blue

    equal parts yellow and blue

    mix, mix, mix! show how to scrape the sides of the container

    mix, mix, mix! show how to scrape the sides of the container

    equal parts red and yellow

    equal parts red and yellow

    little hands might need extra mixing help

    little hands might need extra mixing help

    equal parts red and blue to make purple

    equal parts red and blue to make purple

    mmm, purple....nom nom

    mmm, purple….looks delicious, buddy! nice job!

    3. Once the Secondary colors are mixed, review what colors are made and count how many. Remind them that there are twelve colors all together…If we have the Primary colors and the Secondary colors, what colors could we mix together next? Teach about the Tertiary colors.

    nice secondary color mixing, boys!

    awesome secondary color mixing, boys!

    primary, secondary, and now onto tertiary color mixing

    primary, secondary, and now onto tertiary color mixing

    4. Mix 1 part of a Primary and 1 part Secondary in a container, for example: 1 part yellow and 1 part orange will make yellow-orange. Then mix 1 part red and one part orange in another container for red-orange. Repeat so that you have mixed yellow-green, blue-green, red-violet (purple), and blue-violet.

    mixing yellow orange

    mixing yellow-orange

    mixing blue-violet

    mixing blue-violet

    mixing yellow-green

    mixing yellow-green

    5. Arrange all the containers into a color wheel. Count and review all the names of the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors…

    arrange into a color wheel. name and count all the colors!

    arrange into a color wheel. name and count all the colors!

Step Three: Frosting the Cupcakes

  1. Take a little cheese spreader and demonstrate how to take a glob and carefully spread a little circle motion to cover the top of the cupcake. Show that it doesn’t need to be too much frosting or too much spreading. Also, make sure everyone understands that the spreaders need to be clean before dipping into another color.

    spread a little glob of frosting onto cupcake in a circular motion

    spread a little glob of frosting onto cupcake in a circular motion

  2. Go through all the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors as they spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Ask them which colors are their favorites and why. Or, which colors they think will taste better ;). Kids are so cute!
    the three year old was a great frosting spreader!

    the three year old was a great frosting spreader!

    frosting a yellow-green cupcake

    frosting a yellow-green cupcake

    mmm, yellow-orange!

    mmm, yellow-orange…yes please!

  3. Once all the cupcakes are frosted, arrange them into a color wheel. At this point you can decide if you want to discuss warm and cool colors, or complementary colors, but I am guessing they are going to be super excited to eat the cupcakes at this point! Celebrate their awesome achievements and new found color knowledge…by eating one of course!
    the finish product! that was a lot of fun.

    the finish product! that was a lot of fun.

    celebrate how awesome color mixing was! aren't these guys too cute?!? they are such little hams!

    celebrate how awesome color mixing was! aren’t these guys too cute?!? they are such little hams!

    we got a little silly, but that made it more fun!

    we got a little silly, but that made it more fun!

    so cute! i could eat them both up along with the cupcakes ;)!

    so cute! i could eat them both up along with the cupcakes ;)!

Step Four: Clean Up Bonus

  1. What happens when you mix all the colors together? Take this opportunity to play with the color mixing, since the “rule-following” in the frosting mixing was a bit rigid. Experiment with mixing all the colors together into one container and see what new color is created. Depending on frosting ratios it will be a brown or a very organic neutral grey color (the frosting was white to begin with making it greyer than browner most likely). Wasn’t that an interesting extra bonus? Now we know what happens!
    for an added bonus, add all the colors together to see what happens...

    for an added bonus, add all the colors together to see what happens…

    oooh, that is pretty...

    oooh, that is pretty…

    ahhh, rainbow swirl! so cool!

    ahhh, rainbow swirl! so cool!

    huh! it made grey, interesting...neutral grey or brown is made (i call it "mud")

    huh! it made grey, interesting…neutral grey or brown is made (i call it “mud”)

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blog portrait_thumbnail3hi! i’m trish, and welcome to my cozy home on the internet. i am an artist, art teacher, life-long-learner, and lover of life. there is not much i don’t love. some of my many favorites include creating with my hands, the color green, birds, smiling, and outdoor adventures. some of my not so favorite things include spiders, bell peppers, and math. (more...)

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