A little sensory play. A little math. Lots of color, and lots and fine motor work. Those are the ingredients to this bright and colorful invitation to play. Who knew it could be so easy to teach colors to preschoolers?!
An Invitation to Play to Teach Colors to Preschoolers
An invitation to play is quite simple.
It’s any activity where a set of materials are presented to preschoolers without intention.
What does that mean?
It means that the teacher steps back and acts more of a facilitator and follows the lead of the children while they play with a given set of materials.
Those materials are sometimes referred to as loose parts.
I am a huge fan of invitations to play. They offer kids a whole new way of discovering their own world.
You may discover what color they really enjoy, or if they can count the amount of objects they have, or even how long of an attention span they have. I really like invitations to play for my preschoolers because they’re easy to put together and it offers a wide variety of individualized learning experiences.
Here are some skills your preschoolers can learn from an invitation to play.
- fine motor skills
- color matching and sorting
- spatial awareness
- problem solving
- basic algebraic skills
The list could go on! It doesn’t even mention all the social skills your preschoolers can learn during an invitation to play, such as sharing, turn taking, communication, and so on.
But I’ve got to tell you…this rainbow invitation to play is probably the easiest way to teach preschoolers colors. And, it’s coming just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!
Teach Colors to Preschoolers with Rainbow Invitation to Play
Any of these items can be interchangeable and most of them are probably already in your preschool supply closet. The point is to have a wide variety of materials available in rainbow colors.
These are the exact materials I offered my preschooler to teach them colors, but feel free to interchange them with something else.
- Foam blocks
- Yarn or lacing string
- Dinosaur counters
- Letter beads
- Sorting bowls
- Unifix cubes or connecting snap cubes
- counting squares
You can also add any of these preschool materials that come in rainbow colors:
- Foam sheets
- Colored paper
- Transparent dot counters
- Counting bears or farm animal counters
- Pipe cleaners
- Pony beads
- Wooden rainbow blocks
Set-Up for Teaching Colors to Preschoolers
There are a variety of different ways to go about setting up this activity.
You could choose to mix everything up in hopes that your preschooler naturally dives in to begin sorting out the materials.
I prefer to set up invitations to play in an organized manner. This helps the children organize their play and I believe their play is more intentional with this set-up.
So, I used the sorting bowls to hold the different materials, but making duplicate bowls of each material so that children from both ends of the table could have access. The other materials I laid out, or stacked. The materials were stretched along the length of our preschool table.
Activities for Teaching Colors to Preschoolers
If this is your preschooler’s first experience with an invitation to play, she may now know what to do. In fact, when you say, “Go ahead and start playing,” she might even ask, “How?”
This is ok! I just respond, “You can play with these materials however you would like as long as you are respectful.”
But here are a few questions to ask your preschoolers who still might be stuck. (Seriously, this happens. Some children really have to learn how to play with loose parts.)
- What do you think you can do with these materials?
- Can they be organized?
- Can you put all the red objects together?
- How can you build with these materials?
- Can you line up all the blue blocks in a row?
- What are you going to pretend?
This will get their wheels turning!
Soon all my preschoolers began exploring the materials. They began building walls with the foam blocks, and matching the colors with the square tiles.
The children added dinosaurs and created their own small world play.
They began matching colors and exploring how the materials can interact with one another. That the letter beads can fit into an upside down unifix cube.
One preschooler began standing up the square tiles like dominoes. What patience and fine motor work!
It may not look like “traditional” learning, but I assure you there is an abundance of learning taking place.
Questions to ask for extending the learning.
Ask your preschooler what he is doing, too, and why. “Why are you lining up those dinosaurs?”
Ask your preschoolers “what will happen if” questions, like “What will happen if you put the tiles too close together?
“Do you think you can” questions are also helpful. For example, “Do you think you can build a tower using the foam blocks and the square tiles? How can you use both those for a tower?”
Remember to let them have fun, do some free play, and let them explore. It’s fun watching how these little ones process things, it’s also important to remember kids need to learn from experiences and not just instructions.
Looking for Printables That Teach Colors to Preschoolers?
These are some of our favorite printable color activities for preschoolers. Just click the images to grab your free printables!
Want More Ideas for Invitations to Play?
Try out some of these. Like any invitation to play, you probably already have all the materials already on hand!
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.