Sometimes we take for granted how colorful our world is and we may assume that children will automatically learn their colors as they grow. But the ability to recognize and name colors is a skill and an important cognitive link in a child’s learning.
Starting at 18 months, toddlers learn to identify colors. Between 2 and 3 years old, children learn the names of colors. And learning shades of a color (light blue vs dark blue) is a more difficult concept that develops between 3 and 5 years old.
When learning colors, receptive language comes before expressive language. That means a child will be able to point out the right color long before he can say its name.
For children, the best way to learn new skills is through play. We’ve put our heads together and compiled a list of five fun ways to encourage learning colors through play.
Many of these games can be played on the go and you can modify and expand them as your child develops. Have fun together!
5 Fun Ways To Teach Kids Colors!
Toy Car Color Parking Game
There are a couple ways you can play this game. If you have a toy garage with a few levels and a collection of colored toy cars, you can put green cars on level 1, red cars on level 2 and blue cars at the bottom, waiting to get in. And then make a yellow car traffic jam!
Or you can make a color coded carpark from a sheet of paper with different colored rectangles glued on to it. Park the colored card in the correct colored spaces.
This game lends itself to counting too! For example, how many yellow cars are there? Where are the two green cars? Can we put three red cars in the red space? Kids will love making up a narrative to go with this sorting game.
Color-Specific Scavenger or Treasure Hunt Games
Hide different colored objects around the room and send your little one off on a scavenger or treasure hunt. Give directions like “find the yellow car” or “look for the green monster” and give clues or say “hot or cold” as they get closer or further away. Hide different items of the same color (i.e. a red bus and a red apple) to show that different things can be the same color.
You can try hiding the same object (like colorful clothes pegs) around the room and let the hunting begin! Maybe there is a little prize at the end to make the game even more fun?
This game can also be played on the go. A hunt for a red letterbox or a search for the black car are good ways to make a walk more interesting.
Sorting Games with Pompoms and Lego
We probably all have plastic colored bowls or cups around the house. Get a packet of colored pompoms (from any craft store) and have fun sorting the right colored pompom into the right colored container.
Add more colors and containers as your child gains confidence. Or label jars with color signs ( and add the name of the color to help with reading).
You can then use your pompoms to make rainbows or other colourful creations.
Or use Lego or Duplo pieces and sort by color, creating huge towers or piles of bricks. Once sorted encourage your child to have a go at building a red house, a green car, blue monster etc….
These are great games for fine motor skills too!
If you’re not feeling creative and want to help in the game department, try Orchard Toys. Their games and puzzles encourage learning through play at all stages of a child’s development.
In this Dotty Dinosaurs game, throw either the shape or color dice and be the first to cover your dinosaur board with the correct pieces. This game also can be used to learn numbers and counting and can be played in a group which encourages social play.
Colored Paper Sticking Games
For this activity, you’ll need:
♦ several sheets of colored paper cut up into small squares
♦ a glue stick
♦ line drawings of fruit and vegetables like apples, bananas, oranges, carrots, broccoli or tomatoes (draw your own or print out templates from the internet)
Then encourage your child to stick the colored tissue paper square on the correct fruit or vegetable. Have fun making a lovely piece of art you can hang in the kitchen.
This activity will not only encourage colour recognition but it will strengthen those fine motor skills. Plus, what little kid doesn’t like a bit of gluing and sticking?
Can You See How Simple It Can Be For A Child To Learn Colors?
I hope you find something that has inspired you to have fun with learning colors! Encouraging learning through play is not only the best way for children to learn, but it can also be a wonderful bonding experience for you both as you laugh and learn together.
You will be proud of your efforts when you see the satisfaction your child feels after learning a new skill. Plus, after all this learning and playing, I guarantee you’ll see colors more vividly than you’ve ever seen before!
Lisa, AKA The Toy Hunter, keeps busy with her website What2Buy4Kids. She’s always on the look-out for great quality and unique toys, gifts, crafts and activities that will educate and delight children. She is a former primary school teacher who is also a firm believer in children learning through play. Lisa loves crafting, cooking and gardening with her 3 kids!