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Red, Yellow and Blue, Oh My! A Guide to the Colors All Around Us

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 12/28/2014

Immerse your preschoolers into colors each day with a variety of lessons, games and activities. Helping children notice the endless array of colors in their environment nurtures development in a variety of ways.

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    Ways to Teach Colors

    colorfulmarkers How many colors of the rainbow do the children in your class know? Using the rainbow as a device for teaching gives you the opportunity to explore colors with your students. A child's first approach to color is exploratory. Young children do not draw green horses because they see horses that are green, rather that they just like the color green and enjoy exploring with it. Houses, dogs, even mom and dad may be green in a child's drawing until the child tires of this color and moves on to another. At this stage of development, things do not have to be perfect; it's the process of learning colors that is important.

    Talk with the children about the many colors in the rainbow. Have them choose a favorite and maybe do a one-color picture or choose magazine pictures in one color and make a monochromatic collage. The next day choose another color until all colors have been studied. There are many ways to incorporate color in a child's daily life other than art. Take nature walks, match and sort, play color games, sing color songs and more.

    Use this guide below as a culmination of ways preschoolers learn colors for your lesson planning. Our authors have provided numerous articles that take colors through the curriculum in a variety of ways.

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    Single Color Learning

    Begin by totally immersing children in a color each day. This is the best way to teach a specific color and use it in ways young children can understand. Children can wear the color, collect classroom objects or eat a colored snack. Then read stories related to a single color, songs and more. For art, give the children red, yellow and blue paints (primary colors). Challenge them to create as many colors as they can by mixing them to create secondary colors of green, orange and purple. Introduce pastels by adding white to all the other colors they create.

    Make booklets about a color, for example yellow. Have your class contribute pages, drawing what he or she wishes and using mostly yellow in the picture. Label each picture: yellow boat, yellow butterfly, yellow ball and so on. Engage the children in making booklets for each color you study. Below are articles from our authors on single color units.

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    Games That Teach Colors

    Play games matching real objects to make a color-matching game. For example, assemble a box of toys and manipulatives in a variety of colors. Have your preschoolers make sets of matching items. When outdoors, play color tag. The leader (teacher) calls out a color and all the children wearing that color becomes "it", chasing friends who are not wearing the color. When the leader calls out a new color, then the children wearing that color become "it" and the chase begins again. These are only a couple ideas; however, the articles below will give you other options for color games.

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    Books and Stories That Reference Colors

    Color provides a kaleidoscope of language activities. When children are surrounded by color, we have a rainbow of opportunities to use and expand colorful language. Many picture books take children outdoors to explore shapes and colors, a wonderful activity during the good weather months. Lois Ehlert invites children to plant bulbs and seeds in Planting a Rainbow. When the blooms grow, there are flowers in every color. In Color Zoo, Ehlert again uses cutout shapes that form animals when placed on top of one another. Color plays an important role in this book too. Scan your library or bookstore to find books that use color and color words to emphasize this developmental concept that preschool children need to learn. The articles below take exciting books across the curriculum to help teach the children about the story through activities.

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    To Sum It Up...

    Color is everywhere in the life of the child. Even the youngest children have a favorite color. But children learn through manipulation rather than through correct instruction. Use a variety of lessons, games, crafts and activities to provide pleasurable experiences for exposure to color. And the next time your preschoolers see a rainbow up high in the sky, they will be able to shout out the ROY G. BIV colors from sight.


  • The information offered in this article is based on the author's personal experience and research in the Bright Hub Education archives.

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