Category Archives for "Lesson Ideas"

Spin Art Painting Colour Theory Lesson Idea
Jun 07

Spin Art Colour Theory – STEAM Lesson Idea

By ShaiCoggins | Lesson Ideas

Have you tried doing spin art painting yet? In this STEAM lesson, we incorporate colour wheels and colour theory. And, we also include fidget spinners and glitter for extra fun and sparkle!

Materials Needed:
• Paper Plates
• Fidget Spinners (or paper arrows or dice)
• Spin Art Machine (or Turntable, Lazy Susan, or Salad Spinner)
• Cardstock or watercolour paper (cut in the right size, either square, rectangle, or circle).
• High flow acrylic paints or inks
• Glitter (optional)

Step 1: Create paper plate colour wheels.

Depending on the year level of your students and the time that you have available for this lesson, you can create three different colour wheels:

  • Primary Colour Wheel – Just divide the paper plate into three and colour each section with red, yellow, and blue.
  • Primary + Secondary Colour Wheel – Divide the paper plate into six and colour each corresponding section with red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and violet.
  • Primary + Secondary + Tertiary Colour Wheel – This is best for older or more advanced students. You need to divide the paper plate into 12 and colour each corresponding section section with red, yellow, blue, orange, green, violet, red orange, yellow orange, yellow green, blue green, blue violet, and red violet.

You can either get the students to paint these paper plate colour wheels or you can paint and prepare them beforehand. You also have the option of adding colour using pre-mixed paints, pencils, inks, or markers or doing a colour mixing exercise.

If you’re getting the students to create these colour wheels in class, you can also talk about fractions and/or measurement of circles.

If you wish to focus on the spin art activity and colour theory part of this lesson, just prepare these colour wheels beforehand.

Colour Wheel Fidget Spinner

Step 2: Add a fidget spinner with an arrow.

You can add a triangle shape on one of the tips of the fidget spinner using either a piece of paper or felt (just stick the shape on the fidget spinner with tape), or you can use a removable sticker, masking tape, or washi tape. I opted to use a piece of washi tape.

If you don’t have a fidget spinner or you don’t wish to use one, you can assign a number to each colour instead and use dice to choose your colours.

Alternatively, you can cut an arrow shape out of cardstock, punch a hole in the middle of the paper plate and the edge of the arrow, and attach the paper arrow on to the paper plate using a brad attachment.

Step 3: Create a paper plate colour schemer.

Depending on the number of colour schemes you wish to discuss or teach in class, you can divide the paper plate accordingly. There are a number of colour schemes according to colour theory. Here are six of them:

  1. Complementary
  2. Analogous (or Harmonious)
  3. Triadic
  4. Split Complementary
  5. Rectangle (or Tetradic)
  6. Square

For beginners, I tend to focus on teaching three of these colour schemes: complementary, analogous, and split complementary.

Add another fidget spinner with an arrow in the middle of this paper plate colour schemer.

You can prepare this ahead of class.
Paper Plate Colour Schemer - Colour Theory

Step 4: Introduce the Spin Art activity.

Tell the students what the spin art activity is all about. Give the following instructions:

  • First, spin the fidget spinner or arrow on the colour wheel to choose a base colour.
  • Then, spin the fidget spinner or arrow on the colour schemer to choose a colour scheme.
  • Once you have the right colours, choose the corresponding paint colours.
  • Put a few drops in the middle of the paper or cardstock. Make sure your paper is positioned in the middle of your spin art machine and the paint is watery enough. If the paint is not watery enough, just add a couple of drops of water.
  • Spin the machine a few times to get your desired design. If you’re using a turntable or lazy susan, your machine might not go as fast as you’d like. Just try to spin as fast as you can.
  • While the paint is still wet, sprinkle a bit of glitter that matches your colour scheme.
  • Repeat!

Spin Art Painting for Kids

Step 5: Talk about the Spin Art activity.

After the students has had a few turns creating a few spin art pieces, talk about the process. Ask questions like:

  • What do you notice about the paint? Is it moving or staying still?
  • What does the paint do when you spin the machine?
  • Which direction is the paint going? Does it go towards the middle of the paper or does it go towards the edges of the paper?
  • Why do you think the paint is doing what it’s doing?

Depending on the level of the students you’re teaching, you can talk about centrifugal force.

Step 6: Display or use the spin art paintings!

There are many ways you can use your spin art paintings. Some of them include:

  • Display them together on the wall or board. A group of spin art paintings look amazing.
  • Create buntings for display.
  • Use them as greeting cards or notecards.
  • Use them to decorate notebooks or other supplies.
  • Use them as collage papers.

Spin Art Paintings

Science - STEAM Lesson IdeasScience – Talk about motion, centrifugal force.

Art - STEAM LessonArt – Colour theory. Action art.

Mathematics - STEAM LessonMathematics – Fractions. Circle Measurement.

BB-8 Star Wars SPRK lightning lab app
May 17

Light Painting with Sphero’s BB-8

By ShaiCoggins | Lesson Ideas

While looking for a Star Wars-related STEAM activity for Star Wars Day, I knew I wanted to work with our new BB-8 droid by Sphero that my daughter and I received from my husband for Christmas. I couldn’t find any ready-made lesson plans with this idea, though. So, I kept on brainstorming.

When I came across this light painting idea on Sphero’s website, I knew then that I wanted to try it. But, I wasn’t sure if our BB-8 droid worked with the app. When I found out that it did, it was a Eureka moment.  Now, I can’t wait to use BB-8 for many other STEAM activities. But, first – this light painting thing.


  • BB-8 droid from Sphero
  • iPad or iPhone with SPRK Lightning Lab App
  • Digital Camera with Slow Shutter capabilities
  • Dark Room
  • Fused app or Photoshop (optional)
  • Tripod (optional, but useful)

Topic: Photography + Light + Colours + Robotics
Age Group: 8+
Australian Curriculum: Media Arts, Science, Digital Technologies

We started the session with discussing what we were going to do – create light paintings using BB-8. I explained light painting by explaining the following briefly:

  • The etymology of ‘photography’. That is, is from the Greek words ‘phōtos’ or phōs, meaning “light” and “graphé” meaning “representation by means of lines” or “drawing”. So, together, the word means “drawing with light”.
  • We were going to literally draw with light using BB-8 as our light source. To do this, we will need to ‘drive’ BB-8 using the app on the iPad. But, to get the best kind of light painting, we need to make the room dark.
  • To capture the light drawing or painting in a dark room, we need to adjust the camera’s shutter speed. We briefly talked about shutter speed and what it means. That is, it is the length of time the camera lens is open to let in light. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the lens is open to let in more light. I mentioned that we would need the slowest shutter speed my digital camera phone would allow on manual mode (4s).

We also discussed the capabilities of the app driving BB-8. That is, it can change colour and they can change direction by using the ‘joystick’ on the screen. We used a big dark blanket on the floor to serve as the ‘canvas’ (ie, whoever is driving the droid should limit their movements within the ‘canvas’).

Since we only had two students in this session, it was easy to manage with just one set of the materials needed. One was asked to drive BB-8 while the other one takes photos. Then, after a few minutes, they will reverse the roles.

The person taking the photographs was asked to choose a spot in the room to take photos. They were instructed not to move the camera when taking the photos to keep the subject in focus and to best show the direction of the light. Ideally, the camera would be mounted on a tripod. But, we didn’t have the right set-up for the session, so the students simply had to keep their hands and arms steady. They were instructed to prop their arm on something like a table or floor to help keep them steady.

After the students had the chance to take their light painting photos, we reviewed their shots on the screen. Ideally, I would have let them edit their final images. But, since we ran out of time, I edited these final shots using the Fused app. The app allows two images to be ‘fused’ together. You can also achieve similar effects on Photoshop.

Light Painting with BB-8 Star Wars

Six different light paintings by the students were fused together in three different images, then put into a collage here.

To make it a collaborative effort, I opted to choose one image from each student per final piece. So, each of these final light painting pieces contain photographs taken by two students.

If I’m going to do this activity with a bigger group, I would assign 4 to 6 students in a group to work with one BB-8 droid. One can drive while the others take photos. They can then take turns. If using just one camera, the teacher/facilitator might want to take notes about who took which shots.

If there are limited materials (only one set available per class) and it’s a full-sized classroom, I would set-up different stations in the class. The BB-8 light painting can be one station and I would create similar or related activities in other stations. Then, the class will be divided into groups and assigned to a station, with a timer (depending on the number of students and the session time, each group might be given about 15 to 20 minutes each station).

The final light paintings may then be printed out, signed by the artists, and displayed as part of the assessment.

Science - STEAMLooking at the science of photography. In particular, the law of reciprocity.  This describes how light intensity and duration trade off to make an exposure—it defines the relationship between shutter speed and aperture, for a given total exposure. (via Wikipedia)

Technology - STEAMRobotics, operating a smart phone and/or tablet, using photography apps, and possibly coding may be covered in this lesson.  


Light, colours, and composition are all topics that come as part of doing a light painting.

This Light Painting with BB-8 project was featured at SteamKidsChallenge‘s weekly challenge on Instagram.

STEAM Kids Challenge Winner