A Colorful Story

Develop Color Theory and Empathy with Digital Storytelling


Empathy is the ability for an individual to recognize the emotions, feelings, and pain of others. This is recognized through facial expressions, body language, and overall demeanor. In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink dedicates an entire chapter outlining the importance of fostering and developing empathy in order to survive and thrive in the global community. Pink explains, "Empathy allows us to see the other side of an argument, comfort someone in distress, and bite our lip instead of muttering something snide." (Pink 2006). Developing these traits helps our students become better communicators and collaborators by being able to recognize and respect the emotions of others. Empathy can be developed through creative projects that allow students to step outside of themselves for a period of time.

Using Digital Storytelling (DST) projects, teachers are able to have students experience the creative process of short video production. This assignment has 4th grade students assume the role of a particular color. Students understand that colors are often associated with an emotion or feeling. Blue can mean sad. Orange can be excited. Purple is calming. But what if these colors were living humans? How would Green interact with others throughout the day based on the way we see it? This forces students into the classic, "Walk a day in someone else's shoes". It also challenges students to personify human traits on to abstract ideas. Throughout DST projects, students can work in small groups to develop storyboards, scripts, assign production jobs for each member, and work with digital technologies like iMovie to edit and share their creations. Many of these steps reinforce writing and language arts skills as students follow a story arc and draft scripts. Working in groups also works to develop each student's communication and collaboration skills.

Please view the rest of this flyer to see how Digital Storytelling can work in your classroom!

Examples for the Classroom:


For Teachers:

  • What other abstract concepts can students personify to develop empathy and compassion?
  • Depending on your access to digital video equipment, in what other digital mediums can students compete this project? Consider social media platforms, presentation tools, or other Web 2.0 tools like Glogster and Wordle.
  • Read the story, "The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Daywalt. This humorous story follows colorful crayons expressing their dissatisfaction with their owner, Duncan. Discuss with students why each crayon was upset and what Duncan could do to make sure his crayons stay happy in the future.
  • Visit and review the National Art Education Standards and the art standards specific to your state (links below). How can you work to include art standards and foster creativity in your regular ed classroom?

For Students:

  • Use Wordle.com to create a list of words that describe your color. Use Google Docs to create an even larger list compiled by your classmates. Create a word cloud that expresses the emotions and feelings of your color.
  • Use Smore.com to create a movie poster for your production. Consider supporting cast members and who your target audience may be.
  • Create a longer "Day in the life of..." documentary that follows your color from waking up in the morning, going to school, being with friends, and interacting with his or her parents.

Additional Resources:

The Day the Crayons Quit


  • Daywalt, D., & Jeffers, O. (2013). The day the crayons quit. Penguin.
  • Hanlin, R. (2013, October 14). The Day the Crayons Quit. YouTube. Retrieved July 26, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNcVYE8eubY
  • Glogster EDU: A complete educational solution for digital and .... (n.d.). . Retrieved July 26, 2014, from http://www.glogster.com/
  • NAEA - National Art Education Association. (n.d.). Home • National Art Education Association. Retrieved July 26, 2014, from http://www.arteducators.org
  • SAS - Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards Aligned System. (n.d.). SAS - Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards Aligned System. Retrieved July 26, 2014, from http://www.pdesas.org
  • Pink, D.H. (2006). A whole new mind: why right-brainers will rule the future. New York: Riverhead Books.
  • Ohler, J. (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom: new media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.