Color Books and Activities for Kids (Toddler and Up)

Colors books and activities are everywhere for kids. As my little guy has been getting better at comprehension and speech, I have realized that adjectives are tricky. I didn’t notice this often as a fifth-grade teacher.  Excepting language barriers, most of the kids could use adjectives to describe nouns without thinking about it.

 

I was reading a new color book with my son yesterday when it hit me that colors are tough. On the page we were looking at, there was a big red heart labeled red. How was he supposed to know that the word red described the object? Deep stuff for a one-year-old.

Now, all my years as a human have led me to believe that colors aren’t forever a mystery. In fact, they seem to be one of the easier subjects to grasp. When I took Spanish in high school, I think we learned colors within the first week. Must have been my teacher’s way of telling us to calm down. “Don’t worry kids I will teach you green and all will be well.”

So, despite the fact that kids will probably learn colors eventually, whether or not they are explicitly taught about them, I have tried to compile some worthwhile color activities for the small dudes.

Color Books

If you are short on color book ideas, there are already many posts dedicated to their compilation. Check out these lists at The Reading Mama,  3 Dinosaurs, and My Bored Toddler for some descriptions. Some of the books repeat but there are a whole lot to choose from.

The favorites at our house are:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

As you read this book you visit a handful a different brightly colored animals who tell the reader which new animal they can see.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

This book teaches both colors and the names of the different cars on a freight train. As a sidenote, there is a pull apart book called Inside Feight Train by the same author. It is not focused on colors but my son loves it.

Alphaprints: Colors by Rodger Priddy

This book has a textured page dedicated to each of the seven colors. It is a collage style book that features real objects and drawn objects as well as full sentences.

Others Include (in case you didn’t check out the other posts):

Color Activities

Language

  • Use color words consciously outside of books. Tell your kids the colors of new things and things they see every day. Green shirt. Blue wall. Purple flower. Green bike.
  • Give your child color options. For example, ask your child if they want a green cup or a red cup.
  • As you read the books identify the colors of everything. There might be something blue on the red page. Acknowledge that.
  • Have your child identify the colors of various objects (if he/she can speak). If they are comprehending but not speaking, give them a color to find. For example, can you find something orange in the room?
  • Clap out syllables for color words: pur “clap” ple
  • If your child is advanced help them learn less frequently used color words (maroon, chartreuse, burgundy, scarlet. aquamarine, cerulean, coral etc.)

Field Trips

  • You could go anywhere!
  • Go to a store and describe, find, or have your children describe and/or find different colored objects.
  • Take a nature walk and look for various colors outside.
  • Visit a park and find colors on and off of the playground. Does the green slide look the same as the green grass?
  • You could have a field trip in your own house and do the same kind of thing if you wanted to.

Math

  • Look for things to count in the books. In Brown Bear, you could count the total animals, or the people on the last few pages, or the number of colors on each page. Freight Train allows opportunities to count train cars, buildings, or wheels. In Colors, we always count the ants. Pay attention to the pages, there will be something you can count.
  • Count things in real life (at home or on a field trip). Three purple flowers. Four white socks. Three blue balls.
  • Add things in real life or on field trips. How many purple flowers and yellow flowers are there altogether? If Mommy has two blue buttons and you have three green buttons, how many buttons do we have total? These kinds of questions are precursors to story problems and using the vocabulary early will help them in math later on.
  • Look for and identify various colored shapes in real life and in literature.

Science

  • Mix various colors of food coloring together and see if you can make new colors. Mix It Up, is a good book to accompany this activity.
  • Make colors disappear! See easy instructions on Mess For Less.
  • Find the different colors in a rainbow. I would use the method on The Pinterested Parent and have a good discussion on rainbows. This could also be done as art.
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art found on Eating Richly. (Also art.)

Art

  • Color. Use various mediums (crayons, markers, chalk, etc.) and work surfaces (paper, cardstock, the sidewalk, etc.) Talk about the colors and ideas that are being put down.
  • Find the different colors in a rainbow and color them. Tutorial on The Pinterested Parent. This could also be done as science.
  • Color mixing on coffee filters from The Kitchen Table Classroom. She even suggests a book!
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar Art found on Eating Richly.  (Also science.)
  • Realistically just about any art project you do is going to have something to do with color or the lack thereof so be creative. If you want more ideas just Pinterest the keyword rainbows.

Music

  • I Can Sing A Rainbow (You can sing it faster and more happily than the guy in this video. . . )
  • Here is a whole list of preschool color songs from Teaching Mama
  • This Color Song would be fun in a classroom setting not so much with a single child.

Dance/Drama/Games

  • Have your kids make up a dance for each color. If they (or you) are struggling with those instructions then come up with a list of things that are a specific color and decide how those objects might “act” if they could. For example, some blue things are the ocean and the sky. So, maybe the dance could be a little bit like your child’s perception of the ocean and a little bit like his/her perception of the sky.
  • Come up with a play about colors. In my experience kids are creative. Provide some props and let them have at it. Props could include brightly colored clothing, blankets, dishes, utensils, toys, etc. If you are doing this at home, your kids will be able to find other props/costumes that they may need.
  • Here is a color skit that was done by Studio C that you could show your kids for laughs or inspiration if you think it is appropriate.
  • Perform one of the color songs with your own made up actions.
  • Have a contest at one of the field trip locations to see who can find the most objects of a certain color. This can be done silently or out loud depending on age and ability.
  • Play “I Spy with My Little Eye” and have all of the clues have to do with colors. For example,  I spy something green. Guess. It is next to something red. Guess. It has yellow stripes. Etc.

Social Skills

  • Have a discussion about how people are all different colors. They have different skin colors, and eye colors, and hair colors. That is what makes us all so special, we are all different and that is a great thing!

Technology

Whew, that is a lot of information. What did I miss? Do you have books or activities that should be added to this post?

Literacy and Math DIY Rock Games

 

Introducing developmentally appropriate things is sometimes tricky (especially with kid number one), I admit that I have jumped the gun on many things including both letters and games. I have been trying to teach L his letters for most of his very short life. When he was just days old I would read to him and wonder if he would ever actually look at the book. I am happy to report that he now loves books and will bring them to me to read all day. We usually sit down on the floor wherever he finds me and read the book because I am so happy that he loves them.

Anyway, back when he had just learned to crawl, I would take him to my parent’s house and he would immediately be drawn to the pile of rocks. One of my mother’s hobbies is rock painting and she always has several completed mandala type stones on the bottom shelf of her basement bookcase. Perfect eye level for a crawling baby.

 

L loved these rocks (more than he loved books at the time) so I decided to make him a set of similar looking rocks with a lowercase alphabet on them. Then, I went a little bit further and put pictures on each rock to go along with the letters. I, personally, like to paint and found the whole process very therapeutic (kind of like those adult coloring books). So, I made him a second set of alphabet rocks only this time they were capital letters.

During the last month, L has started recognizing objects and letters and being able to point to specific things when we ask him where they are. So, we can finally use the rocks for something other than colorful carpet decorations. Don’t get me wrong he has loved them the whole time but now we can play games with them. 

Game 1:

Match the correct lowercase letter to the correct capital letter. 

Game 2:

Match the correct capital letter to the picture that it goes with.

Game 3:

Modified memory game. Flip the capital letters over so you are just looking at rocks then flip them over to the letter side in alphabetical order. Find A first, followed by B, etc.

Game 4:

Read an alphabet or number book and find the matching rocks as you go through the book.

Alphabet Books:

Dr. Suess’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book

The Construction Alphabet Book

Alphabet (My one-year-old’s personal favorite)

Number Books:

My Very First Book of Numbers

Alphaprints: 123 (Another Favorite)

Tabbed Board Books: My First Numbers: Let’s Get Counting!

 

Game 5:

Use the number rocks to count real objects. For example, grab the 4 and have your child count out four alphabet rocks.

These games can easily be expanded upon or modified depending on the age of the child you are playing with. Furthermore, they could easily be made by an older child.

Give them a try and let me know in the comments what uses you come up with for your letter/number rocks.

Materials:

  • 26-52 Rocks (I bought a whole bucket of small smooth rocks at a rock landscaping company for about $2.25)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush
  • Sponge brush
  • Something to make dots with (back of a paint brush, dowel, pin head, I use a set of these)
  • Something to put the paint on
  • Water

Step 1:

Wash the rocks and lay them out to dry. (This is my set of number rocks, that is why there are only ten)

Step 2:

Use the sponge brush to paint the front of all of them black and let them dry.

Step 3:

Use your paintbrush and some white paint to create block letters on each rock and let them dry. (Yeah I know they are numbers)

Step 4:

Use your stylus (or other dot making object) to create designs around each letter (or number) and let them dry.

If you choose to do something on the back of the rocks repeat the process.

Step 5:

Play your game or decorate your carpet.

Caution:

If your child is little like mine was when I made these, make sure that the rocks that you use won’t be a choking hazard. I had to hide about 13 of my lowercase letters until recently because L thought that they might be a snack.