5 Ideas for Teaching Toddlers Colors

Toddlers are little scientists. Their minds are constantly hungry for new information and experiences.

As their brains mature, teaching toddlers colors becomes important. Their brains eagerly begin forming "color maps" that allow them to see the differences between color hues.

By 2 to 3 years old, many children are able to sort through colors and list their correct names.

However, for some children, learning colors can be a real challenge, particularly when it comes to subtle color hues.

Through encouragement and dedicated time teaching toddlers colors, we allow them to start growing their creativity.

Knowing how to sort through colors correctly gives them the tools they need to prepare for preschool and kindergarten.

Some of the best ways for teaching toddlers colors is through the avenue of fun games and creative color-themed activities.

Clothespin Matching Cards

This activity is perfect for practicing color hue differences and building fine-motor skills.

Start this activity small with only a few different colors. However, with time and practice, your child will love using this game to practice sorting a large variety of colors and unique hues.


  • Clothespins
  • Paint Color Swatches

Cut a small strip of color from each paint swatch.  Glue the strip on the back of a clothespin; repeat for every color.  Spread the color swatches out and place the clothespins in a small bowel or cup.

Show your child how to clip the right clothespin to its matching paint swatch.  Allow your child time to sort through the colors.

With practice, they'll be able to quickly match the clothespins and cards.  Continue adding new colors each time to keep the activity fresh and exciting.

Sensory Bin Sorting

Sensory bins are the hallmark of early childhood development and the Montessori learning method.

When it comes to teaching young minds new ideas, learning through play and hand-on activities is often the best method.

Color bins allow children to create unique "scenes" and experiment with different textures and objects.

Create a color-themed sensory bin to allow your child to play and experience colors on a personal level.


  • Colored tapioca pearls/Colored pom-poms/Colored Pasta noodles/Fruitloops
  • Plastic Easter Eggs/Colored cups or bowels

Sensory bins are easy to customize.  Pick colorful small objects and fill the sensory table or a bucket with a large variety of colors.

Set out cups or bowels that match each color option and show your child how to sort through the colors.

For a more unique option, use plastic Easter eggs and show your child how to place the right colored objects inside and snap it closed when it's full.

Pick objects with fun textures such as squishy tapioca pearls or cooked noodles that have been dyed with food coloring.

Sorting through the colors allows you child to practice their problem-solving skills and build they fine-motor finger control.

For more hand-control practice, given them toddler tweezers or a large spoon to use to grasp and scoop objects.  Sensory tables keep your child happy and curious for hours on end.

Rainbow Snacks

Turn snack time or lunch into an easy lesson on colors.  This activity is also a great way to sneak healthy fruits and vegetables into your child's diet.

There are endless variations of this activity.  Pick healthy snacks your child loves or experiment with some new fruits and veggies.

  • Blueberries
  • Baby carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumber slices
  • Cheese cubes
  • Cupcake tin/Colored paper holders

Use a cupcake tin and fill the openings with colored cupcake holders.  Fill each holder with the "matching" snack.

For example, fill a blue holder with blueberries; orange or yellow holders can hold cheese cubes.

Try to use a large variety of colored snacks.  As you serve your child's snack or lunch, challenge them to see how many different colors they can eat.

Ask them to find the "green" snacks or any other colors you pick.  Give them a plate and allow them to mix and match a rainbow-like lunch.

Colored Treasure Hunts

Everyone loves the idea of a treasure hunt.  Spark your child's natural curiosity and hone their problem-solving skills.

Give your child a "map" of colors and send them off for their hunt. Stage your treasure hunt at a park for more colors and excitement.

For a "green treasure," children can pick grass, flowers, or even leaves.  "Yellow treasures" might be the sun, dandelions, or road signs.

To add fun surprises, hide several of their favorite toys or a few new ones around the park that match the colors on their map.

Mess-Free Finger-Painting

When teaching toddlers colors, they quickly become more skilled at naming and matching colors.

Continue to help them learn how to create "new" colors through mixing. Although finger-painting is a well-loved toddler activity, many parents understandably avoid this messy activity.

However, with a few tricks, your child can enjoy this art activity without the mess.  Use primary colors such as blue, red, and yellow and allow your child to experiment with their color-mixing skills.


  • Large plastic bag
  • Shaving cream
  • Finger-paint
  • Duct tape

Fill two corners of the bag with a large dollop of finger-paint.  Fill the remainder of the bag with white shaving cream (foam, not gel).

Seal the bag and place a thick strip of tape across the top to prevent accidental leaks. You child will love to the colorful results of mixing the paint and cream.

See how many "new" colors they can make.  Help them learn the appropriate names for each new color mixture.

Repeat this activity with new color combinations.  Many children unknowingly pick up clues about color combinations.

After several color-mixing sessions, test their learning with easy questions. For example, ask, "How do I make green?" or, "What colors make purple?"

Children are experts at learning.  By using all of their senses and unleashing their creativity, children love exploring colors.

Teaching toddlers colors is more fun with memorable games and activities to keep your child's interest.

Your child will love repeating these activities even after they've mastered their color-naming skills.

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