Kindergarten Readiness: Learning About Colors Using Reading, Math, and Science
The very first unit we study in kindergarten has always been Colors. Identifying colors is a basic skill that most children can do upon entering kindergarten. After, mastering color recognition children should move on to reading, writing and spelling color words. They can also learn about the science of colors by mixing primary colors and studying the spectrum of colors in the rainbow. Color study easily lends itself to math actitivities such sorting and patterning. I have provided a variety of activities integrating reading, math, science and art that can be combined into a rainbow of fun that educates and engages your child.
Reading and Writing Activities
- There are so many fun books about color. I have included a link to some of them at the end of this article. A favorite of mine and my students is Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes. Pete the Cat goes for a walk wearing his brand new white shoes, but along the way he steps in strawberries that turn his shoes red, blueberries that turn his shoes blue, and some other big messes. Pete keeps on going though because "it's all good". There is a cute video on www.harpercollinschildrens.com that will have you and your child singing Pete's song all day
- Make some smelly flashcards. I am not a fan of flashcards, but these are really fun! Write a color word in glue on an index card and simply sprinkle on kool-aid of that color. I write black with a black marker and sprinkle a little pepper on it. For brown, I use a brown marker and cinnamon. These are wonderful multisensory tools for teaching color word recognition.
- You can make your own book about colors. I make it a predictable reader with a pattern so after the book is finished, a child can read it independently. I start by reading the classic poem Orange is a Carrot (author unknown). We will model the text of the poem in our book. Staple a few blank pieces of paper together. On the first page, have your child copy a color word with the appropriate color crayon or marker. The flashcards you made can be used to copy the word. Next, you will write "is a". Together the two of you can look in magazines and catalogues for a picture of something the color your child wrote. Cut out that picture and glue it on your page to use as the illustration. Depending on your child's letter/sound knowledge, the two of you can sound out the name of the picture and write it to finish your sentence. You can repeat that with as many colors as you want. Wow! You just worked on cutting, gluing, reading and writing skills.
Orange is a Carrot
Yellow is a pear
Purple is a plum
And brown is a bear.
Green is the grass
Blue is the sky
Black is a witch's hat
And red is cherry pie.
- Write a color poem. I use a template that looks something like this:
Stop signs, apples, Daddy's car (list three things that are that color)
Red makes me feel glad (how the color makes you feel)
I like red!
This is a good activity to do after reading My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss which talks about feelings associated with all the different colors. Your child can illustrate the poem, and you can compile several different color poems into a book.
- Sorting objects is a foundational math skill. Sorting by color is a great way to practice. Your child can sort Skittles, toy cars, plastic beads, fruit snacks or even the laundry. After objects are sorted, you can help your child arrange them into a graph. The, the two of you can analyze your data. Count the objects for each color, and talk about which color had the most/fewest. Where there any that had the same number?
- After sorting, the same items can be used to create color patterns. Start with simple AB patterns like red, blue, red, blue... Then, introduce more complex patterns like ABB (yellow, orange, orange), AAB (green, green, red) and AABB (purple, purple, pink, pink).
- A great book to read for math and color work is The M&M's Brand Counting Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath. Simply buy a bag of M&M's and follow along with activities in the book. Your child will practice counting, basic shape rcognition, addition, and subtraction.
- Yes, it's messy! Yes, it's fun! Edlible fingerpaints are a favorite with my kindercrew.Just mix some food coloring (several brands of natural and organic food coloring are available) with vanilla pudding and let your little artist paint a masterpiece,mix colors, and have a blast. We like to paint on paper plates and eat our artwork when we are done.
- Less messy, but just as fun are bath paints. Using a muffin tin, shaving cream and food coloring mix up a variety of colors. I give my little guy a few paintbrushes and sponges, but this could definitely be a fingerpaint adventure too.
- You don't need an expensive crayon making toy to manufacture your own crayons. Simply peel the paper off old broken crayons, preheat your oven to 300 degrees,place liners in muffin tin, fill about !/3 to 1/2 full with crayon pieces, and bake approximately five minutes until pieces are melted. You can watch the crayons melt through the window (so cool). Let them cool, peel off the liner and color away! Silicon bakeware is even better for this because no liner is needed and the crayons pop out easier. The muffins pans that are shapes are especially fun. My class made heart shaped crayons for Valentine's Day. The crayons you make can be completely random or you may want to sort your pieces into groups of colors.
A Few More Ideas
- My kindergarteners thought it was great fun when I performed a coloring changing magic show. I wore my son's top hat from his magic kit, and magically made purple water by mixing red water and blue water. I used three mason jars filled with red, yellow, and blue water. I also had three emplty jars to start with, which ended up with orange, green, and purple by the end of my show. I really hammed it up! I used several "lovely assistants" and used magician buzz phrases like "abracadabra" and "for my next trick...".
- I have a little poem that we say in a singsong voice to remember the colors of the rainbow..
Red, orange, yellow
Green and blue
I realize that the last two colors of the rainbow are officially indigo and violet, and I do explain that to my class. We draw or paint rainbows and atached a copy of the poem to the picture.
I am including a list of some of my favorite books about color below. Have fun reading, writing, and experimenting with colors!