• Louise Worner

Contrasting Colours and Ikebana for Children


Contrasting colours

The three fundamental principles of Sogetsu ikebana are line, mass, and colour. The Sogetsu curriculum includes many beginner’s lessons on each of these themes.

Focussing on the theme of colour, the Sogetsu curriculum has lessons on the Colour of the Container, Colours in Contrast, and Colours in the Same Tonal Range. In her online lessons, my Belgian ikebana teacher Ilse Beunen also explores a variety of lessons on colour including; Ton-sur-Ton, Contrasting Colours, Colour of the Vase, and Mixing Colours.

When teaching ikebana to children, I usually introduce the concept of colour in fun and creative lessons. During the summer months, gardens are at their most bountiful and filled with an inexpensive source of materials for children.

Colouring-in the Colour-Wheel

As an introduction to the concept of contrasting colours, I ask children to colour in a colour‑wheel template. Many blank printable templates can be found on the internet.

While children colour their wheels with the corresponding colours, discuss their favourite colours. To help children understand contrasting colours (those opposite on the colour-wheel), ask them to find their favourite colour on the colour-wheel. Once they have selected their favourite colour ask them to find the opposite colour.

In a bilingual class this activity could also be used to focus on teaching different colours. In our Castilian Spanish/English ikebana classes, I take the opportunity to focus on pronunciation. Spanish speaking children often have difficulty pronouncing the letter “V” as b and v have a similar pronunciation.

In a bilingual lesson, I would also use this opportunity to practice different grammatical forms in English. For example; “What is your favourite colour?”, or “What colour is the opposite of ……… on the colour-wheel?”

Collecting wild flower material

Before going outdoors, each child is given small scissors, a carton/ small container for placing their flowers and their completed colour-wheels. Once outdoors they collect flowers/ leaves in contrasting colours. The children have complete freedom to choose whatever they want, but the colours must be opposite on the colour-wheel.

Contrasting colours

Back in the classroom/ studio, the children place their plant material next to the corresponding colours on their colour-wheel and in a group discuss everyone’s colour choices. Once everyone has explained their colour choices the children place their plant selection in water. They select a vase (in a neutral colour- or the same as one of their colours). Ask the children to fill their vases with water and remind them that flowers should be cut in water.

An arrangement using contrasting colours

Allow children to arrange their flowers- guide them, but do not be overly critical. Creativity is the key.

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