Drawing and colouring in the primary classroom

Art is an important part of the young learners’ development at school and can also be part of their English learning. Colouring shouldn’t and needn’t however become simply a means to fill in time. Here we look at different ways to use colouring and drawing and to practise English at the same time.

Jo Bertrand


  • To make colouring an integral part of an English lesson and not simply a time filler
  • To learn about mixing colours
  • To recognize colours by words, pictures and sounds
  • To reproduce colours
  • To practise asking and answering simple questions


  • Class sets of coloured crayons.
  • White A4 paper
  • Coloured A4 and A3 paper
  • Water-colour paints
  • Blotting paper
  • Aprons and/or easy access to washing hands.
  • A mirror (for self-portraits)


4 - 10 years old

Mixing colours

  • This could be part of a project about colours.
  • Teach them about primary and secondary colours.
  • This is for the older primary students who can at least recognize words.

Twenty questions

  • They could spend ten minutes drawing their favourite place.
  • As a class pick a few pictures and the other students must ask as many questions as possible about the picture. This could include : ‘Where is it?’ ‘Who is it?’ ‘What is it?’
  • Then in groups of four they can ask the same questions about the pictures drawn by their classmates.

Colour themes

  • Flowers: Learn the different colours of flowers and colour them in the most common colours – red roses, purple pansies…
  • The Seasons: Look at the colours associated with the four seasons.
  • Animal patterns: Look at spots, strips and zigzags.

Colour dictation

  • Give the children blank pictures with five of the same simple object.
  • Number them.
  • Tell them to colour number one in blue, when they have finished move on to number two etc.
  • The pictures should be of extremely simple shapes to speed up the process.
  • Remember not to rush the children but that they should concentrate on the task otherwise the faster finishers will get bored very quickly.
  • Make it a game where they mustn’t look at their neighbours worksheet and then they can compare at the end. Have yours then to display so that they can compare and check they used the right colours.

Colour blindness

  • Don’t assume that everyone can distinguish between colours. If you find that one of your pupils is consistently making mistakes with choosing the right colour then you might want to consider consulting their parents once you have ruled out their lacking vocabulary in English.
  • Do this test with your students to check their colour perception and practise numbers at the same time. http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/8833/coloreye.html

Online activities

Colour crafts


Language Level

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