I don’t know how it happened, but my daughter somehow knew all of her colors by two years old. I don’t remember doing a lot of kids’ learning activities with her- she just picked them up the color names on her own, and I didn’t think much of it.
So when my son didn’t know his colors at a few months past two, I decided that A.) This was a problem and B.) That he is color blind.
Clearly- it’s not. And he’s not.
The average child should be able to name at least one color by age three. So the first step for us was accepting that we did not have a problem, by any stretch of the imagination. But it did also make realize that Abe may need a little more focused practice to learn his colors, and as a result, I’ve been making a greater effort to teach him.
So if you are ready to start teaching colors to your child, we’ve got some fun kids’ learning activities that will keep the process light and stress-free.
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A Note About Teaching Colors
Before we get into the color learning activities, you need to know that there are two ways for a child to “know” their colors. One, receptive, is when kids can identify a color when you give the name. So you might ask, “which one is red?” or “give me the blue one.”
Kids can also identify colors expressively, and this is the way we think of more often. So you might ask your child, “what color is this?” and they would give you the name of the color.
When you’re first starting out teaching colors, you may want to focus on receptive color knowledge. You might be surprised to find that your kids already “know” their colors, just not in the way you expected.
Art projects and experiences are the perfect way to get your kids learning in a fun, low pressure way. As they color, paint, and draw, ask them to hand you the purple crayon, paint with the red paint, or tell you what color they want to use next. Keep it fun and focused on the art, and your kids will learn their colors naturally before you know it.
Mess Free Paint Mixing
In this amazing (and no-mess!) art activity from Fab Working Mom Life, kids will get the chance to mix and mush colors together. It gives you tons of language opportunities to talk about primary and secondary colors. And, on top of that, it lets kids play an active role in making colors on their own.
Monster Truck Painting
Staying on the theme of color mixing, this active art project lets kids blend primary colors into something new. Talk about the colors as you pour them, and then let your kids take the lead.
Process Art Activities
We’ve got a fun assortment of paint related projects you can try. Interact with your child as they paint, and encourage them to identify the colors they are using.
Rainbow Sun Catcher
We are loving this melted-crayon artwork from Me and My Mer Baby. It is hands on, exciting, and gives kids a chance to talk about, sort, and create with crayon shavings. And as an added bonus, it’s a fantastic way to use up all those broken crayons we all have laying around!
Related Post: Edible Yogurt Paint
Color Sorting Activities
Sorting colors is one of the best ways to help a toddler learn colors, especially when you focus on the receptive knowledge involved. Kids love the active approach to learning colors, and sorting is typically a big hit with the toddler set. Here’s a few ways to keep it fresh.
Colorful Pom Pom Sort
This pom pom sorting activity could not be easier to set up, and toddlers love the novelty of the container. Simply set out an empty egg carton (I cut mine in half so we could focus on six colors at a time) and place one colored pom pom in each section. Ask your child to match their remaining pom poms to the ones you placed in the crate.
Froot Loop Matching
Abram LOVES this activity- mostly because he gets to eat the Froot Loops when he’s done! Draw six circles on a piece of paper, in the same colors that Froot Loops come in (or get a free copy here). I laminated ours so we could use it again, but it will work just fine without this step, too.
Now ask your child to sort the colors into the matching circles. Use the opportunity to talk a lot about colors in the process, like “ooh, you found a blue one,” “put this with the other yellows,” or “you can eat a green one now.”
Sticker Sorting Activity
This activity was always a big hit with my toddler art class. I’d put out four pieces of colored paper along with a bunch of these stickers, and kids would stick the dots to the matching paper. Sure, there were lots of errors. But perfection isn’t the point, talking about colors is.
DIY Color Boards
Kids get the chance to sort the colors again, but with this activity from Every Day Above Dirt, they are sorting foam shapes onto magnetic cookie sheets. Most of the materials can be found at the dollar store, and these color boards can be used again and again to practice the colors at home.
Mostly Under Control brings us a sticker sorting activity with a twist. You’ll use dinosaur stickers and popsicle sticks to create little puppets that your child will sort into different cups. There’s tons of opportunity for both receptive and expressive color skills, as well as a chance to engage in some pretend play.
Color Sorting Puzzles
We love this sort and stack color puzzle from Melissa and Doug. Kids can get hands-on with their color learning as they place the right colors onto each peg. Talk about the shapes and colors you are using as you solve the puzzle.
Hands-On Color Learning
Toddlers love to get hands-on with just about anything, so why should colors be an exception? These ideas let toddlers take control of their learning with fun and engaging activities that will keep them busy while they practice their colors.
A twist on a classic, kids will drop index cards with color names on them into an empty oatmeal or coffee can. You can make them using markers and index cards, or print a set here We recommend printing on cardstock and laminating so that your kids can use them over and over again.
I Spy Bags
You’ve got to check out this fun and easy ISpy Color Beads bag from Mostly Under Control. It’s an interactive sensory experience that will provide lots of fun as your child moves, shakes, and investigates the bag to find all the different bead colors.
My son is obsessed with these transparent color paddles that allow him to view the world with different colored lenses. We use these like magnifying glasses, and I ask him to make the ball blue, the milk yellow, or the cup red by looking through the lens. You can use these one at a time, or let them switch between the paddles as they explore the house.
Help kids learn their colors has less to do with teaching the colors, and more to do with consistent, fun exposure to the colors. By integrating some of these activities into your toddler’s daily routine, they’ll have the colors down in no time. What’s your favorite kids’ learning tool for the colors? Tell us in the comments below!