Inside: Teaching your toddler colors? Pick one of our favorite activities that fit into your everyday routine to make learning colors fun and easy so that you can stop worrying about how to teach your child and have more time to play with your kids.
I turned the lights out and he squealed with delight. He started splashing the water in the tub as he said “GREEN!”
It was bath night, and we were learning our colors. Moments before, he searched the house for his favorite green (water safe) bath toys, and we put them in the tub. To make it even more fun, I added green glow sticks and we turned out the lights.
He was starting to speak more clearly when I decided it was time to start working on colors. “How in the world am I going to teach him colors,” I wondered. “We’re just starting to talk- I’m used to teaching older kids reading and counting- how do I teach an 18-month-old?!”
Teaching colors isn’t that difficult when you integrate simple activities into your daily routine.
What age do toddlers learn colors?
Your toddler’s mind is growing in curiosity and you’re probably starting to think about what you should start teaching them.
It can be overwhelming to think about teaching your toddler, where do you even start? Shapes? Numbers? Letters? Body parts? Animals and animal sounds? There is so much you could start with!
Related Article: When to Teach What: A Guide to Teaching Your Child
One of the first things you can begin teaching your toddler is colors. Around 18 months-2 years is a good age to introduce colors to your toddler.
Every child is different and will learn in their own time, but it’s good to introduce colors early on. Before your child is even talking you can set the stage for learning just by naming colors you see.
At the same time a child learns colors, they can also learn sizes (big/small) and shapes.
Is teaching colors important?
You might be wondering “Why rush it? I’ve never met an adult who didn’t know their colors. I’m sure they will learn colors eventually.” You’re right, I’ve never met an adult who didn’t know their colors either, and at the same time, teaching colors is important.
Color identification is actually used in many pediatricians’ offices as a developmental assessment and an indicator of preschool readiness.
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How do I start teaching my toddler colors?
When I was teaching, I always learned the names of the kids in my class before I ever met them. This way when I met the children, all I had to do was connect the face with the name.
The same concept works with kids. If your kiddo has been exposed to color names when they are ready to start associating the color with the name, it will be easier to remember because they already know the name of the color.
When you begin teaching colors focus on one or two at a time. As your child learns them and is confident in the color you have been focusing on, move to a new color that is very different. (For example, don’t try to learn pink right after red or green right after blue.)
Although you may be a little overwhelmed at the thought of teaching your toddler, teaching colors can be simple and can be easily integrated into your normal daily routine.
These are some of our favorite ways to help toddlers learn colors!
Use Everyday Activities to Teach Colors
- Getting dressed: When your child is getting dressed, name what they are doing. “Let’s wear your blue shirt today.” Kids love the independence of choosing their own clothes, so let your child pick what to wear. “Would you like to wear your red shirt or green shirt?”
- Playtime: When your kiddo is playing, name the colors that you see. Find two toys that are the same, with the only difference being the color. “You play with the green car, I will play with the purple car.” This way they can easily identify the only difference is color.
- While you’re out and about: You can talk about the colors of cars on the road, road signs, buildings, or the color of food at a restaurant. While you’re at the grocery store, have your child identify the colors of the items you put in the cart.
- Food: At the dinner table, ask your kiddo if they like their orange carrots or red strawberries. Maybe they are using a blue plate or a green fork. Give them the choice of what color plate they want.
Books That Teach Colors
It is important to be reading to your child as early on as you can. When your child starts to study the pictures, name what they are touching or looking at. “Oh, you like the green turtle?” or “That gray fur is soft!”
You can name colors in any book that you read, but here are some of our favorite books that focus on colors:
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My First Book of Colors is always a favorite, amongst my boys and every toddler that visits our home. There are fun color-changing windows and pictures of real-life objects kiddos encounter on a daily basis which helps to make learning more meaningful!
We love the Rookie Toddler series and this book is no exception. Toddlers love the find-it game on every page of this book.
Kids love the real-life pictures of animals in this book.
Games that Teach Colors
- I spy! Kids LOVE to play I Spy. “I spy something green.” If your child is still working on their colors, show them the color first. “This is green. What can you spy that is green?” This also is a great vocabulary builder for little minds.
- Roll and Play Cube Game: This game is one of our favorite first games. It teaches colors, counting, gross motor skills, animals, shapes, body parts, and following instructions. It’s the perfect game for 18 months+. The Roll and Play Cube Game is great because you can play as long as you want, there is no real “end,” and it’s simple. Kids love throwing the cube and seeing what color comes up! They then pick the same color card and follow the instructions on the card.
Activities that Teach Colors
- Color baths: This is one of our favorite activities when we learned colors. My toddler would go on a color hunt around the house, collecting all of the blue toys he could find. We then used these bath colors to dye the water and he would put all of his blue toys (that were water safe) in the bath. It was always extra fun when we had a matching glow stick to add to the bath too!
- Outdoor color search: We love to spend time outside. Go on a walk and try to collect items for each color you see. Use the color poster in the Little Learners Activity Pack (get it for free using the sign-up above) to help keep track of the items you find.
- Color hop: Using sidewalk chalk, draw large circles in different colors on the driveway. (You can also use the color posters in the Little Learners Activity Pack if you are indoors). Call out a color and have your child run or jump to the color you call out.
- Crafts: Coloring, painting, and drawing are great ways to identify colors. Make a picture out of one color at a time, or use all of the colors of the rainbow.
- Play-doh: Make balls of different colors and have your child smash the colors you call out.
- Color matching: Collect small toys for each color. Using the same sheet of paper that you used for the outdoor color search, have your child match the toy to the color on the paper. Have them identify the color as they match their toy to it!
- Sensory Bins: This is a fun activity for young children that also promotes fine motor skills. Fill a sensory bin with a filler (dyed rice is popular), different color cups, small objects that match the colors of each cup, and tweezers (or use the set below). Have your child pick up each object with the tweezers and put it in the coordinating cup.
Songs that Teach Colors
One of our favorite ways to learn is with songs. Too much screen time is not good for developing brains (Related Post: The Effects of Technology on Kids), so going with a CD is my favorite way to listen to color songs. We love this one for teaching colors, shapes, alphabet, counting, and spelling your name.
Here are some other color songs we like:
Teaching young children should be fun, not difficult. They are discovering that learning is fun, and you should be able to enjoy watching your little learner grow in confidence while exploring the wonderful world we live in…even if all it takes is adding some glow sticks to the bath.
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How do you teach your kiddo colors?