Toddlers are fascinated by the colors of the rainbow, and they are anxious to learn about them. Toddlers also love using their hands for learning. So, why not combine the two into a color sorting and fine motor activity with foam blocks?
The difficult thing about teaching toddlers, is that in any class, there is a huge range of abilities. It’s amazing how much children grow and develop in the course of a year. And while I look forward to watching my toddler preschoolers meet various milestones, that fact that they all do it at different times makes my job as a teacher a little more difficult.
So, when I sit down and do my lesson planning, I am challenged to develop activities that will meet the needs of my younger students while still benefitting the older children in my classes. This doesn’t always work out in my favor.
Sometimes I do have to create two, or three, sets of activities around the same teaching objective to meet all my students’ needs. But when I can make it work with just one activity (and one prep), that makes me happy!
This color sorting and fine motor activity falls into that last category. It’s an activity that is great for younger toddlers with chubby, uncoordinated hands, but it is also beneficial to older students who already know their colors and have steady hands.
- foam sheets, one for each color of the rainbow (or just plain colored paper will also do)
- foam blocks (or any other small-ish block that comes in a rainbow of color)
Color Sorting and Fine Motor Activity
The toddlers quickly got to work sorting the foam blocks, even without any direction from me. I had simply placed the foam sheets on the floor in front of them with the blocks and they did what kids naturally do. They sorted.
For my younger toddlers, this was a good exercise to practice matching colors, as many colors are so similar. The preschoolers had to differentiate between orange and yellow, or blue and purple, both color sets that are very similar. For my older toddlers, this was less challenging, but good reinforcement.
The fine motor piece comes in because children are natural architects. Have you ever met a toddler who doesn’t love to build? Once the colored blocks were sorted, the building naturally took place.
These foam blocks presented more of a challenge than traditional wooden blocks. Not only are these blocks only one-inch square, making them great for practicing that pincher grasp, but they are also very light weight. This meant that the children had to rely more on their own coordination to make their placements, rather than relying on the weight of a wooden block to make up for lack of precision.
The children worked to build walls and towers and other structures with their sorted blocks. I love how deliberately the toddler above is building her wall, being very careful to get her blocks to line up just they way she intends.
Every ten minutes or so, a younger toddler in the class, (ahem, namely my son) would go through and destroy all the structures, inviting the others to help knock down all the walls and towers, making a mess of the blocks.
And then the fun would start all over again. Matching and sorting and building, with each toddler preschooler doing a job that was both challenging and fun, based on their own abilities.
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.