Today let’s look at some Montessori colour activities.
The best way for children to learn their colours is when they are showing interest and we feed this interest. There is also a lot of indirect preparation we can do before they are actively showing interest.
These ages are to give you an idea but remember to always follow your child and their interests.
The most important thing is not to correct them when they make a mistake. They might say, “this one is blue” holding up something that is green. We can make a mental note that they are still mixing up blue and green and offer more opportunities to name these colours whenever we see them.
The child has an unconscious absorbent mind at this age. So we don’t need to “teach” colours.
- We can name colours in our daily life for them to hear, absorb, and later use. For example, holding up two t-shirts for them to choose from, “Would you like to wear the red t-shirt or the blue t-shirt?”
- Songs about colours – for example, we sing a song in class I learned from Ferne van Zyl, “Green, green, green, Simone is wearing green, Simone is wearing green today, Green, green, green.”
- Books about colours – we can often find board books of colours. I also like the simplicity of Tana Hoban books which are often to be found second hand like “Red, Blue, Yellow Shoe” with one object of one colour per page.
- Activities with colours – one of my favourites is the Galt pop up toy. At first they will be taking the pegs out and teething on them, then they will put the pegs in any hole, and then one day they will put the yellow peg in the yellow hole, the green in the green hole etc.
- Montessori mobiles for infants – we start with the black and white Munari mobile, move onto the primary colours of the octahedron mobile, and then colours of a gradation with the beautiful Gobbi mobile
18 months – 3 years
Some children will begin to name colours in this period, others after they are 3 years old.
- The coloured discs on coloured dowels is an example of an activity which a young toddler may use to practice putting discs onto dowels. At first they will place the discs on any colour dowel.Then one day, we see them go to place the blue onto the yellow, then pause, and place it on the blue. They are beginning to sort colours.
- Other colour sorting activities – coloured buttons into coloured pots, pom poms into bowls (I like to add some tweezers for them to practice their fine motor skills too), Plan Toys sort and count cups.
- The first and second colour box – I don’t think we need to have these in the home but these are the special colour tablets used in Montessori classrooms to give the first colour lessons using a three period lesson.
- Once they are showing an interest in colours and maybe know one or two colours, it can be fun to choose a colour of the week to spot around our home and as we are out and about. For example, we could choose yellow and make a corner where we find all the toys that are yellow and they will start to see all the different shades of yellow too. As we are eating a banana we could point out that the skin is also yellow, just like our colour of the week.
- Continue to name colours, read books, and sing colour songs.
Learning colours is an abstract concept which is understood most clearly by the 2.5/3 to 6 year old child with a conscious absorbent mind. This is the age that are crystallising and wanting to understand consciously everything they took in during the first 3 years.
- Mixing colours – rather than telling a child that blue and yellow makes green, let them make the discovery themselves. Have them mix paint and see what colour it turns into.
- Mixing playdough – one of my favourite ways of mixing colours is to make playdough in two different colours. Take a ball of red playdough and mix it with a ball of blue playdough. It’s like magic watching it first marble together and then turn gradually into purple as they knead it.
- Rainbows – for older kids, making a playdough rainbow is super fun. They might even like to make a stop animation with it like I did here. There are lots of objects around home that can also be made into rainbows, for example, lego blocks.
- Finding things around the home that are different colours – one of the favourite activities for preschoolers is looking for colours in our classroom or home. They need to remember what colour they are looking for and bring it back to their mat or table. And at the end return everything back to its place. A great activity for their memory too.
- Grading colours from lightest to darkest – the third colour box is pretty special. There are nine colours of different shades and the children can grade these from lightest to darkest. Some of the variations are so subtle but the children of this age have an amazing sensitivity to this as sensorial learners. We could make a similar activity at home by using old paint chips from the hardware store.
As always, use what we already have at home. And if you are looking for more Montessori activities, I have my favourite activities by age here:
- 3 – 6 months
- 6 – 9 months
- 9 – 12 months
- 12-15 months
- 15 – 18 months
- 18 – 21 months
- 21-24 months
- 2 years – 2 years 3 months
- 2 years 3 months – 2 years 6 months
- 2.5 – 3 years
- 3+ years
As well as a free 44-page pdf of Montessori activities by age (0 to 4 years). Enjoy!