Fun at Home - Colour Spinner

Colour Changing Wheel

When we are doing some painting or other art activities you will noticed that when two colours are mixed together you get a third colour. If we mix red and yellow, we get orange, mix yellow and blue we get green and so it goes.

We can make a spinning colour wheel that shows this really well and we can make some different sounds at the same time.

How long to create

30 minutes

Age group

5 years and up (young children will require assistance from an adult) Please take care when using the equipment and sharp skewers.


You will need:

  • Sheet of ordinary white paper
  • Sheet of card (from a cereal box or something similar is fine)
  • String – about 60cm per spinner
  • Glue stick
  • Textas or sharpies, crayons or even pencils
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Compass or something round to trace around so that all your circles are the same size

Making Instructions

Step 1 - Trace 2 circles per spinner on the white paper and 1 circle per spinner on the card.

circles on card

Step 2 - With a pencil draw two circles inside each of the circles on the white paper, to create 3 bands.

circles on plain paper

Step 3 - Use a pencil to divide one of the circles in half and the other one in quarters (look at the picture at the top to see what we mean). Only do it very faintly so that the lines do not show up like they do in our sample.

colour plan

Step 4 - Now to choose the colours – work on two primary colours (red, yellow and blue) first then experiment with other colours later. (if you are using crayons or pencil, press hard). It is easier to colour in the circles before cutting them out.

solid colour on the circles coloured circles showing the 3 sections

Step 5 - Cut out the circle from the card and the circles you have coloured in.

cut out circles

Step 6 - Glue the circles onto the card, one on each side. Make sure to put the glue all the way to the edges and in the centre also.

glue coloured circles onto card

Step 7 - Trace your spinner onto a scrap of white paper and cut out. Fold it in quarters. This will show your where the centre is. Place two holes approximately half a centimetre either side of the centre of the circle. Place this carefully on your spinner. It is important to have these holes central as the spinner will be wonky if they are off centre.(ask for assistance if you are finding this hard).

scrap for pattern circle

Step 8 - A bamboo skewer or needle is good for pushing through to make the holes (place some spare card underneath to protect your work surface). Thread the string through both holes and tie the ends together. A needle comes in handy for this.

spinner with holes and string string through the centre holes

spinner ready to use

How to get your spinner to work

Place your ring finger through the string loops and either end of the spinner and hold the string with your thumb and first finger.

Spin the spinner around then pull tight. Let in unwind and wind up again, then pull tight again. When you get it going really fast you will find it easy to pull and release (this is why it important to have the holes as central as possible). You get better at it the more you practice.

As you spin the disc you can see the solid colour on the outside and centre of the circle, but on the middle band you see the two colours blended.

Questions and other things to try

  • Does this work with all colours?
  • Do the wheels work better if they are small or large or medium size?
  • Do different mediums like pens, pencils, textas or crayons work better than others?
  • As you have seen, there are two different colour shapes. Which one worked best – the Quartered spinner of the halved spinner
  • What happens if you have all of the primary colours on the one colour spinner?
  • Want to add some sound?  Put a small notch in the edge of the spinner.
  • What effects do you get if you create different patterns on your spinner?

other patterns other spinners

What's happening?

Why do you think this colour change is happening? It is called persistence of vision. When an object is moving very fast you are still seeing the first image when the second image is in your line of sight. That means that you are still seeing one colour and you see the second colour at the same time and it mixes the colours.

Take a picture using your colour spinner and share on Instagram hashtag #museumofthegoldfields or Facebook remembering to tag us.

This Fun at Home activity is presented by:

Museum of the Goldfields logo