9 Easy Methods for Teaching Colors That Will Brighten Your Child's World

Enjoy these effortless ways to help your toddlers learn colors!

Published May 31, 2023
Cute little girl with colored hands

After a child's first birthday, many parents become excited about the idea of teaching their toddlers the concepts of colors, numbers, letters, and shapes! While these notions are second nature to us, teaching colors to your kids can feel a bit daunting. Where do you even start? And when should kids know colors? Get ready to breathe a cyan of relief! We have a marvelous list of ways for your kids to learn colors that hue will absolutely love.

When Do Kids Learn Colors?

Teaching a child the colors of the rainbow typically begins between 18 months and three years of age. However, introducing concepts early is the best way to ensure that your child is on track for kindergarten. Why? Because by the age of five, your child must be able to:

  • Recognize and name colors
  • Match and group items by color

Therefore, don't be afraid to start playing color games and labeling items by color right away! Best of all, by engaging in these types of activities, you also help them hone their fine and gross motor skills, improve their language development, and you promote problem solving.

Why Is Teaching Colors Important?

Color recognition is a fundamental part of development and a milestone that children generally need to meet to enter kindergarten. This means that it's good for parents to be proactive in teaching colors to their kids. Thankfully, children learn best through play and there are simple games and activities to help teach them these concepts that are easy to implement into your daily routine.

Helpful Hack

Consider printing out a color chart and taping it on their bathroom mirror. Every night when you go to brush their teeth, point out and name something in each color on the chart. For instance, a red apple, an orange fish, a yellow banana, etc. Then, ask them to point at something in one of the colors you identified! This is a simple way to introduce color concepts.

9 Simple Ideas for Helping Toddlers Learn Colors

Get ready to paint the town red! These color games are a fun and easy way to help your toddlers learn their colors.

Simple Color Sorting Games

This game is simple to put together and very effective at teaching colors. For this game to work, you need to have at least two different color options, but you can offer as many as you want!

What You Need:

  • Colored bags, cups, or bowls
  • Colored objects
    • Pom poms
    • Legos
    • Wooden shapes
    • Fruit pouch lids
    • Random small toys

How to Play:

  1. Once you have gathered your objects and containers, mix the various colored objects together and place them on the floor.

  2. Then, grab any object, say the name of the color of the item, and place it in the corresponding container.

  3. Repeat this with an object of the opposite color until you have labeled all of the available color choices.

  4. Next, ask your child to sort the colors. With each item they pick up, continue to label the item by stating the color.

  5. After sorting and labeling a handful of the items, begin to ask your toddler what color each object is as they pick them up.

  6. Give them a second to guess. If they get it wrong, correct them. If they get it right, praise them!

Helpful Hack

This is a great activity to do at lunchtime! Serve your kids a fruit salad or vegetable spread and have them sort their food into colored containers.

For the parents who are always on the go and don't want to lug around all of these supplies, you can also use our convenient color matching printable! Simply print out the color pages and the colored object cards. Then, cut out each of the object squares. Mix them up and see if your kids can match them to the corresponding color page.

Color Sorting Games That Are More Challenging

Once your child has gained the basic understanding of sorting colors, the best way to solidify their ability to identify different shades is to enhance your original game. The key is to not make too many changes to the original. What this means is that if you sort Legos, stick with that object.

Toddler girls playing with puzzle pieces

What You Need:

  • Masking tape
  • Construction paper
  • A truck toy (one with a large area to hold objects)
  • The objects you normally sort with

How to Set Up:

  1. Place three differently colored pieces of construction paper on the floor and adhere them to the surface using masking tape.

  2. Then, place strips of masking tape in zigzag directions on the floor, leading to each piece of paper. Make sure that the masking tape is like a road - everything connects together.

How to Play:

  1. Mix up the different shades of objects and place them in the back of your toy truck.

  2. Next, demonstrate to your child that the truck will drive along the masking tape and stop at each piece of construction paper. When it arrives, it must deposit all the objects that match that color. For instance, they will deposit all the red Legos on the red piece of construction paper.

  3. Once the red Legos are deposited, the truck will back up along with the pattern of masking tape and redirect to the next piece of construction paper following the same instructions. You will continue the steps until all the pieces have been sorted.

Simple Color Matching Games

This is another great game for teaching colors, introducing problem solving concepts, and honing fine motor skills.

What You Need:

  • Clothespins
  • Markers
  • Paint color samples (which you can snag for free at most local hardware stores)

Once you have all your paint samples, simply take your markers and color the clothespins in the various colors that you have selected. For instance, color three clothespins red, another three blue, and the final three purple.

Quick Tip

Don't have clothespins or markers? No problem! You can also use colored chip clips or binder clips. You can also use colored paper that you have lying around the house instead of the paint chip cards.

How to Play:

Simply have your child clip the clothespins to the matching paint chip samples.

Color Puzzles

Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, sequencing, language learning, spacial vocabulary, and problem-solving: these are just a few of the many benefits that your kids can experience when playing with puzzles! The key is finding puzzles that highlight the various shades of the rainbow.

Target has a great color puzzle that features a literal rainbow of colors along with corresponding colored numbers. You can also buy an array of Montessori style color puzzles on Amazon as well.

Flash Cards

When kids are older, flashcards aren't always the most exciting activity, but for toddlers, they are surprisingly fun! The merka Alphabet Flash Cards feature colors, numbers, shapes, letters, and objects. Everything comes in a color, which makes it the perfect opportunity to question your child about the color of the frog, a flower, or the shade of the letter A!

Read Color Books

Reading promotes language development and the learning of various concepts, which makes it another perfect way to teach your kids their colors! Some of the best books to introduce the different shades of the rainbow include:

I Spy Something…

As you are driving in the car, walking through the grocery store, or playing at the park, playing I Spy is a wonderful way to teach colors and build vocabulary. I spy something green… Could it be the broccoli or the Granny Smith apples? See what your kids can pick out!

Rainbow Sensory Bottles

If you don't have time to play I Spy, then sensory bottles can be a great solution! Parents can make a bottle for every color of the rainbow and then see what items their kids can find inside.

What You Need:

  • Six large plastic VOSS bottles (one for each color of the rainbow)
  • Small objects in each shade (toys, buttons, colored paperclips, charms, etc.)
  • White rice
  • Food coloring
  • White vinegar
  • Six Ziploc bags
  • Super glue

To Assemble:

  1. Dye your rice.
    1. Combine white rice, white vinegar, and food coloring in a Ziploc bag. Mix one teaspoon of white vinegar and 10 to 12 drops of food coloring for every cup of white rice.
    2. Seal the bag and use your hands to mix the ingredients together until the color sets in.
    3. Pour the rice evenly on a cookie sheet and allow it to dry (this requires at least two hours).
  2. Once the rice is dry, alternate layers of colored rice and the corresponding colored objects (red rice with red objects, yellow rice with yellow objects, etc.) in each Voss jar.
    1. For best results, leave one inch of open space at the top of the bottle so your kids can move the rice around.
  3. Apply super glue to the lid, seal, and allow it to dry!

Once done, let your kids explore their colored jars. As they find objects, ask them questions to help them verbalize the color. For example: "Oh, you see an apple? What color is the apple?"

Show Your Artistic Side

Whether you grab your paints, crayons, or markers, coloring using these mediums is a fantastic method for teaching your toddlers about colors. The best way to do this is with coloring sheets that have designs printed on them.

Select your sheet and announce that you are going to paint the item in a certain color. For instance, "I am going to paint a blue dog! What color are you going to paint the starfish?"

Daily Activities That Help Young Kids Learn Colors

Another spectacular technique for introducing colors is to label items based on their shade and to incorporate colors into your daily conversations.

Give Color Options

Every single day, you will dress your child. Giving them options is a great way to teach colors and give them a little bit of control at the same time. In case you didn't know, this is also an amazingly easy way to prevent meltdowns.

All you have to do is select two items. For example, two shirts. Present them to your child. Then, ask "do you want the BLUE shirt or the RED shirt?" Make sure to emphasize the colors. When they select an item, reiterate the color that they have chosen. "You want the BLUE shirt!"

Repeat this process with every single clothing item - pants, socks, underwear, jackets, hats, pajamas, and whatever else they wear for the day.

Helpful Hack

Parents can also buy colored plates and cups and then give their kids choices on the color of their serveware. Follow the same premise above and ask if they want to eat their dinner on a green plate or a yellow plate.

Serve Color-Themed Meals

When you are at the grocery store, have your kids pick out a color for each meal of the day. Then, try to theme your dinner around that shade! This is something that can easily be done at breakfast time with a little food coloring.

Dye their oatmeal red or their eggs green and pair them with red strawberries or green grapes! This introduces both colors and flavors to young toddlers. It can also help picker eaters to overcome their preconceived notions about foods simply based on their shade.

Hand of baby girl eating rainbow-colored spaghetti
Quick Tip

You also have the option of serving rainbow meals! Incorporate every shade on your toddler's plate and discuss the different hues throughout the meal.

Teaching Colors Can Be Fun

Was that a pigment of our imagination, or did all those activities sound pretty fun? Teaching colors doesn't have to be hard. Just remember that repetition is key, so keep going through the motions and they will get there! Learning colors can take a few months, but there will be a magical day where you strike gold and your toddler will finally be able to name all the colors in the rainbow!

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9 Easy Methods for Teaching Colors That Will Brighten Your Child's World