Media & Techniques

7 Ways to Use Paint Chips in the Art Room

Paint chips are a great manipulative for the art room. They are free, easy to find, and pretty! I wanted to compile some of the ideas I have come across and others I use myself in the art room. This isn’t an excuse to deplete your local hardware store of paint chips. Use at your discretion, and have fun!

7 Ways to Use Paint Chips in the Art Room 

1.  Paint Chip Cities

This idea excites me because you are using the paint chips to create a piece of original art, and you have to look closely to see what the buildings are made of! What a cool collage!

2. A Review of Tints and Shades

Label the paint chips and keep them within view of the students during a color mixing project. This not only provides a great reminder but shows a visual cue for students who often forget the concepts from class to class.


3. Tints and Shades Game

Use cut apart paint chips to create a matching game. Students must line them up from darkest to lightest, reviewing tints and shades. But don’t stop there!  Sort warm, cool, and neutral colors or even make your own color wheel. The possibilities are endless. I also have another color sort game, if you are interested.

4. Paint Chip Sculptures

Because paint chips are a little heavier, consider using them for sculpture. Orbs are fun, as well as boxes. It’s a great way to introduce 3D art to students if you are short on clay or don’t want the mess of paper mache. I equate it to origami.

5. Color Naming Game

I tried this game with students, and it was a HUGE hit! They each got a small swatch cut off from a paint chip. Then, they had to come up with a new name for the color. If they used the word “tint” or “shade” in their name, it was bonus points. I was blown away by what they came up with.  I think the kid below was trying to call it “Green Lair.” Ha!

6. Review Geometric Shapes and Patterns

I envision doing something like this with kindergarten or preschool students. It will help them identify shapes, make shapes and form patterns with the different colors. Maybe this wouldn’t be a finished piece of art, but an activity or process to do before the art project.

7.  Flashcards

Think of all of the colorful types of assessments you could create with paint chips as the “card!” Creating cards that students can test themselves with on paint chips adds a layer of fun. Students could even write artist statements on them!

What else would you add to the list?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

More from Jessica