Teaching your two-year-old toddler to identify and differentiate colors does not have to be a difficult task. In fact, there are plenty of ways that you can make it fun! By teaching them through sensory activities and real-life scenarios, they will learn their colors faster and easier than you would expect. Here is everything you need to know about how to teach colors to a 2 year old.
When should a toddler know colors?
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You should start teaching your toddler their colors when they are around the age of 2. Developmentally, kids are ready to start noticing colors at the age of 1 and differentiating them at about 18 months.
When they are younger, this can be done in simple ways, such as pointing out colors in books and in their everyday surroundings.
If you start teaching them that way, they will already have an awareness of colors when you are ready to really dive into teaching them. Learning colors early on will help your child be able to better communicate and express themselves, as well as help them categorize and compare objects.
Which colors should I teach my 2-year-old first?
You will want to start teaching your toddler the basic primary colors first.
Start with red, yellow, green, and blue. These are the colors that they will identify most often.
You can create activities around each different color until they have learned it, then move to the next color.
Try not to teach them two similar colors at the same time so that they do not get confused.
Before adding new colors after they have learned these four, make sure that you mix these all together to make sure that they are able to differentiate them when they are in a group. Once they have fully mastered those, you can introduce orange, brown, black, and white. Then you can move on to pink and purple.
As you introduce more colors, make sure that you are still going back and reviewing the primary colors with them to make sure that they have retained what they were already taught.
How do you make learning colors fun?
There are plenty of ways to make learning colors fun for your little one! You can do fun activities, such as sorting or painting, or even mixing colors! You can also talk about colors in books or their everyday life.
If you turn learning colors into a game or a fun activity, your child will have fun and will not even realize that they are learning a whole new concept.
How to Start Teaching Colors to Your Toddler at Home
If you're looking for a few colors games for toddlers, I got you! This is a simple list of ways you can teach colors to your toddler.
Keep Things Simple
You want to make sure that you do not overwhelm your child when you are just starting to teach them colors. Start by pointing out colors around them, and stick to the basics. You will want to start with red, yellow, green, and blue.
Start out by identifying these colors in their everyday life until they understand the concept of color. You will want to only focus on one or two of these colors at a time and do not move on until you feel confident that your child knows them.
You do not want your little one to feel overwhelmed or confused, so a simple start is ideal.
Sensory activities are such a fun way to get kids started learning their colors! One of my favorite ways to teach children colors is through interactive sensory color-sorting activities. You can use things they enjoy, such as large beads, pom balls, or even their favorite toys. Have them sort them by color and then ask them to name the colors.
If you also want to improve your little ones' fine motor skills, have them cut different colored paper into pieces using safety scissors. Then they can sort these paper pieces into piles by color.
Dot painting is another fun, sensory-friendly activity. Dot paint markers come in nearly every color. Make sure that you get the ones that contain washable paint. I like to have them use a color dot marker on the same color paper (for example – have your child use a green dot paint marker to draw a picture on a green piece of paper). This is a fun sensory activity that will also boost their color awareness. We love the Ooly dot paints for this!
Finger painting is another sensory activity that will help teach your two-year-old their colors. Have them talk about and name the colors that they are using as they are painting. This is also a way to boost their creativity and their imagination. As with the dot paint, make sure that the paint that you let them use is washable paint. You can see a list of our favorite art supplies here.
Color scavenger hunts are a fun sensory activity that will help your toddler learn their colors. Send them on a “hunt” to find as many items as they can of a certain color. For example, tell them to go find as many blue toys as they can in their room.
Rainbow sorting sensory bins can be another way for your two-year-old to practice their colors. Have a bin full of different colored cups and popsicle sticks that are the same colors as the cups. They can independently sort the sticks into the correct cups based on the matching colors.
Read Books About Colors
This is a very simple way to incorporate colors into your toddler’s day without having to explicitly teach them. There are so many different books about colors! You can find board books almost anywhere that teach colors. Some even have sensory touch points in them.
One of my favorite books to use to teach colors is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin. Your little ones will love the fun, colorful illustrations, and it is a simple way to get them started identifying their colors. There are a lot of activities that go along with this book, as well as sensory manipulatives.
Dr. Seuss’ Book of Colors is another fun book that will expose your toddler to colors. It is full of fun rhymes and illustrations that will help your child remember each color. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is another Dr. Seuss book that helps teach colors, and it also incorporates numbers and counting – an added bonus! You can easily create your own activities to go along with these books. I like to cut out paper fish in different colors and have them go “fishing” for each of their colors.
If your toddlers are fans of farm animals, Hello, Farm! Is another picture book that goes over the primary colors. This also connects the colors to the environment around them, which helps them make a real-life connection when identifying colors. Many of these can be found in my Amazon Store.
Color Sorting activities are one of the easiest ways to teach your child to identify and distinguish different colors. This is a fun way to learn colors that your little one will enjoy.
You can use toys, mystery bags, blocks, candy, snacks, or just about anything that they like! Just give them multiple objects and have them sort them by color, then have them tell you the name of each of the colors.
Make sure that you are using identical objects that are only different in color, so your child will understand that color is the distinguishing factor when they are sorting. Super simple!
My favorite color-matching activity for toddlers also involves sorting – color cups! Your child will match their colored pieces to the cup of the same color.
You can also use printables where your child will draw a line from a color on one side of the paper to the matching color on the other side of the paper. You can even do a simple matching game with cards where they flip them over and keep looking for a match. Just make sure that they are verbalizing the colors' names as they play these fun color-matching games.
Color Puzzles are another fun way to teach colors to toddlers through matching.
Melissa & Doug make several wooden puzzles where you match the colors. Make sure that as your toddler is completing this matching puzzle, you are saying the names of the colors out loud and have them repeat after you.
Interactive Songs & Videos
Songs and videos can be a great way to teach toddlers a new concept (though it should not be the only way). A fun, catchy song or a video with visuals can help your 2-year-old remember color names and be able to identify them.
Make sure to pick one that is brief and is not overwhelming but that still has fun bright colors. You also want to ensure that it goes over the colors you are specifically working on.
Coloring with Markers & Crayons
This is an easy and fun way for your toddler to learn color recognition. As they are picking up crayons or markers, have them say what the color is. You can also ask simple questions, such as, “what color are you going to use for the flowers?”.This is also an excellent activity for the development of their fine motor skills.
To make it even more fun for them, print out coloring pages or buy coloring books with pictures of their favorite characters or objects. If your child is a little older, they may prefer using colored pencils. This is such a simple way to teach colors to toddlers.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are something that I like to incorporate into my toddler’s daily routine. Not only will they help them learn their colors, but also their fine motor skills.
One craft that is fun for teaching colors is to make a sticky shape rainbow. Have a rainbow outlined on a piece of paper, and have them sort out foam shape stickers and put them into the correct place on the rainbow.
Another fun craft that will help your toddler learn their colors (and let them have a snack at the same time) is to cut out different colored fish, glue them onto a large piece of paper, and then have them sort out colorful Goldfish crackers and glue them onto the paper fish that matches their color. You’ll probably need to help them with the glue!
Colors in their Environment
This is something that should be started from the age of one. You can simply point out the colors around them. The color of the car, the color of their wall, the color of their shirt, etc. This gives them the exposure and awareness of colors that they need early on to be able to learn to eventually differentiate and identify them.
You can also label things around your home with the color name so that they also learn to identify color words. Another simple and fun way to point out colors in their environment is to talk about the colors of their food while they are eating.
Playing the game “I Spy” is another popular way to teach colors. On a car ride, say “I spy something (color)” and have them guess what it is. If they guess incorrectly (something that is the wrong color), be sure to tell them what that color is so that they will know. By following these methods, your toddler will know color recognition in no time.
Teaching your toddler to identify and sort colors can be very fun and rewarding. It is an important skill for them to learn in early childhood and is a simple way to start introducing other skills, such as math and sight words.