Candy Color Sort

With lots of leftover Easter candy still in the pantry, I decided to sneak in a little learning (colors and mathematical sorting) while Veronika nibbled on a sweet snack!

I poured candy out onto a paper plate, making sure we had every color of the rainbow thanks to a mix of Giggles chewy candies and chocolate candies from Unreal.

I then set out a muffin tray, and put a few of each color in the muffin cups to get her started. “Where should this blue one go?” I asked, and she dropped it in with the blue.

Of course there was much snacking amidst the sorting, but she enjoyed the process! Every once in a while, I would trick her by deliberately putting a candy in the wrong cup. She very quickly spotted a yellow lurking among the green, and moved it to the correct place. Talk about a sweet way to taste the rainbow!

Froot Loop St. Patrick’s Day Fun

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If ever there’s a day for rainbow cereal fun, St. Patrick’s Day is it. Here are a few ways we incorporated Froot Loops into the day to mark the holiday.

To start, surprise your kids in the morning by pretending a “leprechaun” visitor left behind a rainbow. I threaded Froot Loops in rainbow order onto a pipe cleaner, then inserted the ends into two “pots of gold” (vegan mini muffins), following a tip from Painted Confetti.

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Since Froot Loops aren’t vegan, I told the kids this was magical leprechaun food for decoration, not eating. Travis was too busy to care, since he was so busy peeking inside a homemade leprechaun trap to see if it was caught inside. Looks like the little fellow got away!

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Later in the day, Veronika and I used extra Froot Loops for a pretty rainbow craft. I drew the arcs of a rainbow with marker, and then dumped some of the cereal onto a tray. (Since it would be unfair to allow no snacking during a craft like this, I gave her a bowl of vegan cereal on the side for munching!).

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Working with one color at a time, we made a line of glue dots along that rainbow arc and found the right color cereal in the tray.

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Veronika stuck with it for a few pieces in each color, and I filled in the gaps. Preschoolers can try to tackle the full rainbow by themselves.

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Cotton ball clouds were the final touch!

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I loved the touch of magic that these projects gave to our holiday, leaving the impression that the leprechaun had really been there. If you truly want to wow your kids this St. Patrick’s Day, here’s one final shenanigan: Sneak downstairs before everyone else is awake and add a little green food coloring to the toilet bowl. Travis couldn’t believe this final bit of leprechaun evidence!

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Primary Color Rainbow Suncatcher

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St. Patrick’s Day gets us thinking about all things rainbows and pots of gold. Here’s a neat way to show a toddler how to make a full rainbow… just from the three primary colors!

To start, I cut an arc from contact paper and taped it down to the floor. I then cut lots of tissue paper squares in red, yellow, and blue. I had these mixed in our craft tray which I soon worried was a mistake, instead of sorting them. But the big messy mix turned out to be half the fun!

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To make the rainbow, you’ll need to work deliberately row by row. An outer row of red is followed by an overlapping yellow (to make orange), then plain yellow. Next overlap blue (to make green), then add a row of plain blue. Finally, overlap a little more red and you’ll get a bottom row of purple.

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Veronika wasn’t old enough to understand that the colors needed to stay in their proper rows, but I soon realized the benefit of having mixed all the colors in the tray; she was the perfect helper to find me each right color. “Now let’s find only red squares!” I told her, and she happily dug through the tray.

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Then she discovered how fun it was to make the tissue paper rain down as I finished up the rainbow.

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The real engagement with the craft began for her once the suncatcher was taped to the window. Of course there’s the obvious element that now it sparkled and shone…

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…but now the full rainbow magically appeared as well. Where red and yellow overlapped, there was orange; yellow and blue made green, and blue and red made purple. We sang rainbow songs and Veronika loved following the arc of it with her fingers.

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Next she pretended her favorite toy was sliding up and down it! We’re going to keep this beautiful rainbow suncatcher in the window to cheerfully greet the spring.

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Squishy Button Sorting Bag

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This cute twist on a regular squishy sensory bag adds the concept of sorting into the mix! Squishing buttons through the hair gel inside will be an absolute delight for toddlers and preschoolers alike.

To set up, I drew two circles on a large zip-top plastic bag with sharpies, using colors that corresponded to buttons in our craft bin. Next, squirt in a generous amount of hair gel, then add buttons in at least two colors. (Note: You can make this harder for preschoolers with additional colors). Seal tightly, adding duct tape to the seal if you worry your child might want to open the bag.

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First I just let Veronika experiment with how the bag felt. She loved squishing the buttons through the gooey insides of the bag…

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…or pressing her hands down firmly on top of it.

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Once she’d had time to explore, I showed her that she could nudge the buttons deliberately, each one toward the correctly colored circle. She picked up on the idea right away, although occasionally I had to help her with the fine motor skills needed to scoot a button in the right direction.

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To mix up the activity, I then showed her how the bag looked with the buttons completely sorted. Then it was up to her to scatter them! In sum, this was a nice variation on an idea that never gets old.

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Sort Colors in a Play Tunnel

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Veronika has sorted colors into separate bins before, and it’s a task she’s become quite skilled at. This new twist on the activity has an added advantage because it incorporates gross motor skills and movement, too! Our play tunnel that has been open in the living room all weekend, so today I thought we could use it for a little learning before folding it up.

This required a little parental set-up on the front end. I emptied a few toy storage bins and taped down a piece of paper in the bottom of each with the name of a color, as well as a square colored in marker in that corresponding color.

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We started out just using red and blue because I wanted to be sure Veronika understood the concept before adding more colors. Stacking blocks from Mega Bloks or Duplo are perfect for this game. I showed her the labeled bins and then we ran around to the other side of the tunnel where a jumble of blue and red blocks were waiting. “Can you put the red ones in the red bin?” I asked her, offering up a red block.

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At first she wanted to run around the tunnel, but after I tossed the blocks inside it, she got the idea to crawl through with block in hand. She had her victory target in sight…

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Slam dunk!

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To be honest, she didn’t always crawl through, sometimes taking the long way around on her feet. But this was always at a run, so it sure still counted as movement play!

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We expanded to orange and yellow blocks next, giving her four choices of bin for each block as she reached the end. When we finished with the sorting activity, she kept busy with all the materials for a while, moving items from bin to tunnel to storage bag to floor and back again.

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DIY Cups for Color Sorting

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Save up your empty non-dairy yogurt containers for a few days, and then you’ll have all the materials needed to make a color sorting game for your toddler!

I decided to stick with just three colors today (choosing the primary colors of blue, yellow, and red), instead of overwhelming Veronika with the full rainbow. It started out with some messy painting play, first painting each clean empty container with one color. Let dry completely.

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Once the containers were dry, they were ready for color sorting! We used a set of colored dominoes for this game, and Veronika could readily fill each one with the corresponding color domino. If you don’t have dominoes, try other small objects like pom poms or beads.

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But here’s the twist to this game; after the first round of proper sorting, we made it silly! I mixed up all the dominoes into the wrong colored cups, and challenged her to sort them back to where they belonged.

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She caught onto the humor of it, and laughed as she dumped the dominoes back and forth for a while, giggling that they were “trash”.

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Your toddler will end up with a big pile and can sort things back into their proper places once more.

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Rainbow Toy Scavenger Hunt

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Here’s a great color lesson for toddlers that’s interactive and hands-on!

To start, I drew a rainbow with markers on the biggest piece of paper available, in this case an old paper grocery bag that I opened up to lie flat. Ideally I would have made the rainbow even bigger on poster board or butcher paper, but the grocery bag worked in a pinch. This was a fun chance for a little art side-by-side, since Veronika wanted to color, too.

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Once the rainbow was complete, it was time to make it 3-D! I curated this activity slightly for Veronika since she’s so young, gathering a variety of toys in easy-to-spot solid colors, and placing them in piles near the rainbow. These included blocks, toy cars, dominoes, plastics fruits and veggies, and bean bags.

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Now I asked Veronika to help me fill in the rainbow! She quite quickly grasped the idea, reaching to put items on the line of the same color. Our bumpy rainbow quickly took shape.

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Even better, the completed rainbow is likely to invite your child to play solo for some time after, since all those toys are now right at hand!

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Older toddlers and preschoolers can make this more of a true hunt, and trot all about the house looking for one color at a time before lining up the items they’ve found on the rainbow lines. But even this sit-down “hunt” was great for my two year old!

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Primary Colors Squishy Bag and Storytime

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This activity is 50% storytime and 50% art activity, and 100% fun for your toddler.

I set up the color squishy bags first so they would be ready to go. Squirt one primary color into the bottom left corner of a small zip-top plastic bag, and then a second primary color in the top right corner. Seal tightly and tape down to the floor with duct tape. Repeat so that each primary color is paired once with the other two.

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Now I was ready to invite Veronika over for this hands-on storytime! There are so many wonderful color books you can read, but we love Press Here and Mouse Paint, both of which are particularly good for talking about primary colors.

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As we read through Mouse Paint, we copied the mice! As the red one danced in the yellow paint, we squished that bag together and got orange! The middle mouse mixed yellow and blue to make green, and we followed along with our squishy bag.

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And finally the third mouse mixed red into blue, and Veronika did the same. She loved that the storytime was so interactive, not to mention simply loved the squishy feel of the paint bags!

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There were lots of ways for her to continue the play solo, whether continuing to have fun with the sensory bags or leafing through the pages of the books.

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What’s your toddler’s favorite book about primary colors? Please share in the comments!

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Giant Connect the Colors

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Here’s a fun way for toddlers to learn colors on a BIG scale. The only limit to this game, really, is how many cans of food you have in your pantry!

I happened to have seven cans which worked well since I didn’t want to overwhelm Veronika by using more than 2 or 3 sheets of paper for each color. Older kids, though, might have a blast setting up a maze of colors that covers a whole living room if your pantry has enough supplies!

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To set up, I picked three colors (blue, red, and green) and set down two to three pieces of construction paper for each one. I topped each sheet with a can. These cans have dual purpose: to hold the paper down and to wrap yarn around in the next step.

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I then set out lengths of yarn in colors corresponding to the sheets of paper. Wrap the end of each color around one can. Your child’s job is to take that yarn and connect it to all the cans sitting on the same color (so red yarn stretching to all the red pages, green yarn to all the green pages, and so forth).

When I first brought Veronika over to the set-up, I worried I had made a mistake and she was too young for the activity. She was very excited by the cans (“It’s beans!”) and distracted by checking them out. When I asked her what color the paper was, she only wanted to tell me what color the food item was.

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But then we had a breakthrough. She correctly identified that the paper underneath the can was red. Could she hold the yarn and find another pieces of paper of the same color. “I think you see it!” I told her.

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“I see it!” she responded, and trotted to the second piece of red paper. I showed her how to wind her red yarn around this can.

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Time for a round of green yarn!

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“I see it!” She trotted over…

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…and proudly looped the green yarn around.

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Once we were finished attaching all the yarn and cans, we had a neat maze along the floor. “It’s a spider web,” she said with excitement, and wanted to play and jump over the yarn maze for quite some time.

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So we accidentally got in our gross motor skills for the day, too!

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Crayon Color Sorting

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Veronika is obsessed with colors right now, not just in English but Spanish, too (thanks to big brother’s Zoom class!). So when I came home with a big new box of Crayola crayons, she immediately wanted all los colores. I seized the perfect opportunity for a color-sorting game.

To set up, simply tape paint chips (available for free at hardware stores) to the individual cups of a muffin tin, and then encourage your toddler to add each crayon to the correct cup.

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I pointed out the first few, using both English and Spanish words. “Where should you put verde green?” I asked her. “What about blue azul?”

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She was great about sorting at first…

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…though of course she soon also wanted to mix and match, or transfer the crayons back into and out of the box.

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In sum, an easy and fun color game for toddlers.

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