Teaching colors is for sure a primary objective in any toddler or preschool classroom. Here are six ways to teach colors to toddlers, including a free printable to use with each activity!
But don’t be fooled, preschoolers will also enjoy these playful learning activities.
***This post includes a free color sorting printable. Be sure to grab your copy at the end of this post.***
Free Printable Toddler Color Activities
The tile flooring at our pediatrician’s office is that traditional white flooring of many schools and offices, but with random tiles of red, orange, yellow, and so on thrown in there with no pattern in particular. We have had the same pediatrician since my oldest was a toddler, so I don’t know any better, but when we first encountered these colorful tiles my son thought they were hopping tiles.
As in they hopped down the long hallway, past three other pediatrician offices, to get to our very own Dr. Ferguisen.
Because that’s what kids do, right? When shown randomly placed tiles in rainbow colors they naturally will hop from one tile to the next instead of walking.
That was with my first, and now I have five kids, and you know what? They all hop down that long hallway.
What I have learned since then is that those tiles were actually very strategically placed. The tile floor design actually was purposeful because the next thing I know our pediatrician is asking my little boy if he knows if colors, and she points to the tiles on the floor rather than flipping through a chart of colored cards.
She asks my toddler to name his colors, and he does, but by hopping to and from the tiles.
Also by design.
She is allow assessing if he can hop, and with one or two feet, and if he can stand on one foot and maintain his balance.
And she looks at his fine motor skills when she does get out the book of color cards and asks my toddler to show her how he can also color match.
My point is, that teaching colors to toddlers is important.
So important, in fact, that it is part of developmental assessments in many pediatrician’s offices and is often used as an indicator of preschool readiness, and absolutely used in kinder readiness assessments before formal enrollment.
FAQ About Learning Colors for Toddlers
The easiest way to introduce colors to young children is to talk about them! It’s easy to point out colors you see throughout the day in a natural way.
~ Comment on the colors you toddler chooses. “I like your red shirt! It’s the same color as mine.”
~ Invite your child to choose between two colors. “Would you like the green cup or the pink cup?”
~ Point out colors as you read books. “This duck is yellow, but this one is white. Can you find another ___ duck?”
By the end of preschool, before a child enters kindergarten, they should know all the following colors:
Advanced preschoolers might be able to name shades of the above list of colors by adding “light” or “dark” modifiers. Some might even be able to identify colors by saying things like, “greenish-blue.”
Like any other content you teach your preschooler or toddler, you want color activities that will make learning fun. Variety is key! Here are some tips to make learning about colors more enjoyable:
Include color activities that involve whole-body movement.
~ Try matching colors.
~ Go on scavenger hunts.
~ Play “I Spy.”
~ Make color collections.
~ Create rainbows using random items from around the house.
~ Practice sorting by using color items.
~ Have “dress in ____” color days…or do the same with foods.
~ Play “Where’s the Thimble” with specific color items.
The internet and Pinterest are chock-full of ideas for teaching colors, including fun activities like color mixing or fun sensory bins for toddlers to explore colors.
But today I’m sharing with you six new color activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
Plus, this post includes a free color sorting printable, so be sure to grab it from the end of the post.
Activities About How to Teach Colors to Preschoolers
These lesson plans include an entire week of free preschool color activities. They are full of fun, colorful hands-on learning.
6 Activities to Teach Colors to Toddlers
If you’re looking for some fun, but simple ways to teach your toddler colors, then you’ve come to the right place. These activities are low or no-prep, and are new and creative.
Color Activity for Toddlers #1 – I Spy
There’s no guessing here, I Spy is a popular children’s game and you can play it with just about any concept. You can print off the color mats at the end of this post and point to the mats to help your toddlers and preschoolers identify which color you are “spying”. For example, it might go something like this:
I spy with my little eye, something that is red.
Then you point to the red color mat and ask,
This is red! What can you spy that is red?
Playing the game in two steps like this helps your toddler make the connection that the color has a specific name.
Color Activity for Toddlers #2 – Search the Room
One of my favorite ways to teach colors to toddlers is to invite them to search the room.
Invite a toddler or preschooler to join you in the front of the room and have them select a color that the rest of the class will search for. That student gets to hold the color mat up high for everyone to see while they search the room for something that matches in color.
When your students return, you may find that they come back with items that do not match. This is ok. Just help them find the right mat to make their match.
Or, your toddler may find an item that is very colorful. This is a good opportunity to allow your toddler to share with you all the colors they know as they share their object.
Color Activity for Toddlers #3 – Use a Variety of Materials
These color mats are perfect for color sorting, which is an old stand-by in preschool. But for good reason because sorting activities really help strengthen a child’s knowledge of a concept. You can use the free color sorting printable in this post to sort a variety of materials.
We’ve used them with Legos.
We’ve used them with pom poms.
We’ve used them with Unifix cubes and snap cubes.
But the fun doesn’t stop there.
You can use crayons, pipe cleaner, baby food lids (from squeeze packs), foam blocks, construction paper squares, and just about any themed math counter too, like farm animals, counting bears, transportation counters, or my favorite: dinosaur counters!
Color Activity for Toddlers #4 – Race to the Color
Need to include some gross motor fun? Of course you do! Toddlers love (and need) to get up and move about!
Try taping these color sorting mats onto the wall or white board. Have a “grab-bag” of items in the rainbow colors prepared. Draw an item from the bog, show the children, and have the run to the wall and slap the coordinating color mat!
My little boys adore this version of the game, but if you’re worried about having lots of kid running at the same time, or worried about a child’s feelings getting hurt during the “race”, then you can also play this one child at a time. Have the one child close his eyes while you show the rest of the class, then open his eyes and go!
Color Activity for Toddlers #5 – Color Stomp
Here is another gross motor game to teach colors to toddlers and preschoolers. Laminate the color sorting mats and tape them to the floor. Tape them really well.
Turn on some music and have the children walk in a circle as though they were playing Musical Chairs. At a random time, have turn off the music and then flash a color sorting mat in front of them. The child who is standing on the matching mat(s) stomp their feet while saying the color out loud.
As you might have guessed, you will need to make at least two copies of these mats, maybe even more depending on the number of children playing. You’ll want at least one color mat per student, but it’s ok if there are more more mats on the floor than children playing.
Color Activity for Toddlers #6 – Mixed Up Colors
One way to assess a child’s comfort in color sorting is by mixing up a set of objects on the color sorting mats and inviting your toddler to fix all the mistakes.
It’s easiest to start this activity with a single set of materials like linking chains, instead of a bunch of different materials. Scatter them over the color sorting mats and invite your toddler to join you in fixing the sorting by placing all the materials on the correct color mats.
If your toddler is new to color sorting, you can start with only two colors rather than all six rainbow colors.
Looking for More Ways to Teach Colors to Toddlers?
You might enjoy some of these free color sorting printables.
Then grab your free color sorting printable down below!
Want this FREE Color Sorting Printable?
This post has six easy to teach toddlers their colors, so grab your free printable and have some fun with the ideas above!
Get Color Sorting Mats for the Entire Year!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.
These will be great in our color theory unit.
Cindy Ellison says
Sarah, I love these color mats and all the ways to use them. Thanks for the freebie!
The color mats are awesome!