Today I’m sharing some of my favorite hands-on and interactive ideas for practicing and assessing color recognition and color words.
Color Sorting Activities
We do a lot of sorting activities with young children because it is such an essential math skill. Sorting by color is one of the first sorting activities we do and I’ve done a variety of them over the years. Here are my favorites:
Place pieces of different colored construction paper in the compartments of a sorting tray. Place pom-poms and clothespins in the center. Have students pick up the pom-poms using the clothespins (great fine motor skills practice!) and drop them into the correct colored compartment. Students can say the color prior to dropping the pom-poms into the colored compartment.
You can also use pony beads and tweezers.
If you do not have sorting trays, you can have students sort the pom-poms or pony beads onto color play dough mats, color posters, or colored sheets of construction paper using the clothespins or tweezers and naming the color before they place each one.
Another idea is to use scraps of paper. Students sort the paper pieces onto color posters, color play dough mats, or pieces of colored construction paper saying the color as they place the pieces. Students can also tear the pieces of paper for you for fine motor skills practice.
Students can also sort pony beads onto colored pipe cleaners. You can add some extra math skills by having them count how many pony beads are on each pipe cleaner.
Place different colored pieces of construction paper in a muffin tin. Have students sort objects into the correct colored holes. You can provide objects for them or they can hunt around the room and find their own objects. You can also do this activity outdoors and have students find objects of various colors in nature to place in the muffin tin.
This is a student favorite because they get to sort food – Fruit Loops cereal! Students sort the colors and place them on the rainbow. Then, they count how many of each color is on their rainbow and write it on the page.
Have students use different colors of play dough to spell color words on play dough mats or color posters.
Have students spell color words with magnetic letters.
Make a simple black and white sorting mat with color words and have students sort objects by color. In this example students used a clothespin to pick up pom-poms and placed them in the correct circles.
You can also place circles with color words in a muffin tin and have students sort objects into the correct holes.
Students can also tear pieces of construction paper or tissue paper and sort them according to color. Tearing paper is great fine motor skills practice!
Interactive Differentiated Color Practice & Assessment
Since young students enter my class with a wide variety of color knowledge I needed an easy way to differentiate their practice. Technology in the classroom has been such a blessing in this area, especially Boom Cards. If you are not familiar with Boom Cards you can read a little more about them at this blog post.
One of the things I love about Boom Cards is I can assign different decks to different students so I can target and differentiate their practice quickly and easily.
I created interactive decks for each color with audio directions so students could complete them on their own. It’s like I’m giving individual instruction to many students at once! The cards are also self-checking so students get immediate feedback without having to wait for me to check their answers which is awesome!
Each individual color deck introduces the color and color word and has interactive activities that require students to find objects of that color, sort objects by color, find the color words, and unscramble letters to spell the color words.
Here is a sample video from the yellow color deck. You can try it out for free with your students by clicking here. It is also available for Google Slides here and for Seesaw here.
After looking at the student reports in Boom Cards I can tell with which colors students are struggling and which colors they have mastered. If they are struggling, I let them practice those color decks more before moving on to the color assessment decks.
I also created 2 fun digital decks to help me assess students’ color mastery – one for color recognition and one for color words.
Mouse Paint Color Mixing Activity
One of my favorite books to read aloud when teaching colors is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh.
It is a delightful story about colors and color mixing that features 3 white mice who discover jars of paint.
After reading the story we do a fun color mixing activity of our own. Students mix colors similar to the mice in the book. They mix together the 2 colors in each box of the page to see what color they make. I’ve used finger paint, tempera paint with brushes, and tempera paint with clothespins and cotton balls to mix the colors. Students get so excited when they see that they make a new color just like the mice did in the book!
Colors Brag Tags to Reward & Motivate
With the ever increasing demands on young students to learn more and more standards, I like to praise and encourage them each step of the way and keep a positive “vibe” because it can get a little overwhelming for them.
I have found that receiving something extra special and unique that celebrates their efforts each step of the way energized students’ desire to learn more, kept them enthusiastic about their learning, and restored their confidence and commitment (especially if they had been struggling).
After students master each color they receive a unique color brag tag. My students get really excited about receiving each brag tag and take great pride in seeing all of their accomplishments on their brag tag necklaces.