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ways to teach toddlers colors


The earlier you start teaching your child colors, the better,  but don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for them to learn and recognize colors. Children start to be aware of the different colors around the age of 18 months, but it’s usually not until the age of 3 or 4 that they can name colors. In other words, children comprehend the colors before they can express what all the colors are. We started talking about/pointing out colors to Hazel when she was 6ish months old, but now that Hazel is 19 months old, we’ve started to focus more on learning colors…learning in a fun way! Studies show that children learn best through play, and doing fun activities with your toddler is the best way to teach them. It’s important to remember that children have a short attention spans, even with fun activities. They might get distracted after a few minutes and that’s totally ok. Let them play, explore, and learn for as little or as long as they want too. Stay positive and try the activity another day. The more they are exposed to the activities, the longer their attention span will get.

  • Color Sorting Games: There are so many different color sorting games you can buy (see above for links to purchase) or you can easily make your own (see below for ideas). Whichever you choose to do, having your child pair like colors together is a fun way for them to learn their colors.
    • Pompom Tunnel Drop: Either paint or used colored tape on your leftover paper towel roll or toilet paper roll, and tape them to the wall. Give your toddler colorful pompoms and have them drop them down the matching “tunnel”. You can keep it simple by using one roll per color, or you can use several per color to make a fun maze for the pompom to follow.
    • Colored Paper + Objects: Place different colors of paper (red, green, blue, yellow, etc) on the floor, along with objects of those same colors. Have your toddler place the objects on the correct colored paper. We raid our craft closet for this activity and use pompoms, pipe cleaners, and feather, but you could also you blocks or any toys you have around the house.
    • Scavenger Hunt: Give your toddler a bucket and tell them run around the house and put all their red (or whatever color you choose) toys in the bucket. It’s a great way to get some energy out too!
    • Muffin Tin + Pompoms: Cut out round pieces of paper in each color and place them in the muffin tin. Give your toddler pompoms to place in the matching color.
    • Pipe Cleaners + Fruit Loops: Have your child thread Fruit Loops through the matching pipe cleaner. It’s fun, yummy, and great for the fine motor skills too. You can also use a pasta strainer and have your child place the pipe cleaners through the holes in the strainer, and then add the Fruit Loops to the matching pipe cleaner.
  • Read Books: Reading books is one of the best ways for your child to learn. Books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and What Makes a Rainbow? are great for learning colors. But really, you can use any book to teach your child colors by pointing out the different colors on the pages.
  • Shaving Cream + Food Coloring: This can be done indoors at a highchair or outdoors at a water table, on the ground, in a plastic bin, or whatever you have. Squirt foaming shaving cream on the tray/bucket, then add some drops of food coloring and let your child play with it and get messy. You can use just one color or you can add multiple colors so they can see what happens when the colors get mixed together. While your child is playing, talk to them about the colors. You can also give your child toy cars or figurines to play with in the shaving cream. If you are worried about using shaving cream, you can use the spray whip cream.
  • Coloring and Painting: Coloring and painting is an easy and fun activity to expose your toddler to colors.
  • Color Themed Days: Focus on teaching your toddler one color at a time by having a color themed day. For example, if your color is orange, feed your toddler orange foods for lunch like cheese, cuties, carrots, mango, etc.
  • Look for Opportunities: The opportunities to teach your toddler colors are endless, you just have to look for them. When you’re on a walk outside, talk about the colors of the flowers and trees, and when you’re at the grocery store, talk about all the different colors of the fruits and veggies in the produce section. Hazel likes to go through my nail polish collection, so I use that as an opportunity to talk about the different colors as she pulls each one out of the bowl and sets it on the floor. It’s never too early to start getting in the habit of looking for and taking the opportunity to teach your child. Hazel and I have been talking about colors since she was less than 6 months old. It helped get me in the habit of looking for those opportunities, so now that she’s older and at the age to learn them, talking about colors is second nature to me, and she’s already had some exposure to them.

XO, Kacie

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