Color wheel Connections:

Handmade books about human beings


This flexible 8 to 12--week studio arts and literacy bookmaking program uses the color wheel as a metaphor to better understand:

As humans, we are each completely unique;  

though we are different from one another, we inevitably have things in common.  

The first session begins with a simple lesson about the color wheel, then develops into socially-informed conversations and students creating fully handmade and illustrated picture books.

After a series of conversations and exploring professionally published picture books, students are encouraged to compose a short manuscript for a picture book on the themes of recognizing our unique qualities as humans. Students’ picture books may address race, religion, gender, body type, socioeconomics, age-ism, look-ism, etc.  The student’s written composition may be fictional or represent a memory or experience the young author has experienced. Meanwhile, with fresh knowledge of the color wheel and introductions to a wide variety of studio art skills, the student’s books are filled with exciting hand-drawn illustrations.  

Learning Objectives:

Students will:  

  • learn basic and important knowledge about color theory and the color wheel.

  • engage in several studio art processes, including drawing 101, chalk pastels, collage, design and book layout tactics, needle and thread bookbinding.

  • express themselves through visual art and story writing.

  • engage in conversations that discuss and dismantle intolerance and fear of the different.

Preparing for the Program

Please provide time for students to transition into this weekly bookmaking class.  (i.e. time to get a drink, use the restroom, and clear off their desktop.) Each week’s class will be a little different.  Classroom teachers should also be prepared to mentor their students with their original compositions during normal class time. This story composition ideally is part of their school day writing requirements.  This program is at its best when the classroom teacher is an active collaborator and support for the students.

After the program

Once the bookmaking curriculum is complete, continue to encourage your students to express their feelings through story composition and illustration.  It is a constructive and positive way for each child to share their experiences and feel empowered to make a difference in their communities.

Consider organizing a “reading” for the school, so children in other grades can experience your students’ work.  If possible, keep books in classroom and create assignments based on the children reading each other’s books.

Encourage children to make more books for a variety of uses: journals, planners, gifts, recycle old art, more stories!

Grade levels:

2nd grade - 12th grade

Bring this program to your school

For pricing information and to make arrangements to host this curriculum at your school, email:

To see more excerpts of books made during

the 2017/2018 school year, click here.