Save your paint chips from the hardware store, because they can be turned into educational paint chip activities for toddlers and preschoolers!
Paint chips, also known as paint color samples or paint swatch cards, are fantastic teaching resources because of the various shades of color.
I’ll share fun and easy paint chip learning activities that my kids have enjoyed plus some fantastic ideas from other parenting websites!
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Tips for teaching colors to young children
Color vision fully develops around age 5-7 months.
During the toddler years, kids begin to learn color names through regular daily conversation with parents and caregivers.
Even before babies can talk and reply back, I narrate my observations to my kids and point to colors of trees and flowers outside, foods that we are eating, and toys that they are playing with.
As the master the basic colors of the rainbow, they gradually notice lighter and darker shades and patterns.
Teaching colors in multiple languages
I try to be consistent with describing everything Mandarin Chinese, while our nanny names colors and other objects in Korean.
Meanwhile, my kids usually learn the English names of everything through their dad, friends, school, or simply overhearing conversations between myself and other people.
Since English is the main language in our community, we focus on speaking and encouraging the minority languages at home.
Young brains are sponges that can absorb multiple languages simultaneously!
Video example of introducing colors through a Montessori 3-period lesson
I’m a big fan of the Montessori philosophy and have been learning how to adapt the approach with my children.
I’ve noticed that Montessori activities have clear, focused learning objectives.
Presenting the activity in a certain way and sequence promotes confidence and mastery in children.
In addition, a control of error should be provided so a child can self-correct his or her work.
In the following video, a Montessori teacher explains how to introduce colors through a 3-period lesson.
This approach can be adapted naturally at home as you go about the day.
In addition, you can set up the following low-prep, DIY paint chip color matching activities!
6 Educational Paint Chip Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers!
Here are 5 simple paint chip activities that you can try with your little kids between ages 2-5 years!
1. Color match and peg with paint chips
Modern Preschool has a brilliant clip and match activity that I recently discovered when searching for paint chip activities.
You can see how Modern Preschool made the paint chip color clip and match activity here!
Basic color matching like this should be established before expecting little ones to compare shades of color.
Several years ago, we did a similar Clothespin Color Matching with Fine Motor Skills and Word Recognition. Both of my kids loved the fine motor practice with clothespins!
If the fine motor aspect is too challenging, you can simply offer pairs of paint chip colors without the pegs.
2. DIY Montessori Color Box
The Montessori Color Tablets (box 1, 2, and 3) are standard classroom tools that are shown in the video earlier in this post.
While it’s a brilliant resources, it’s pretty expensive to buy for home use.
For crafty parents who are looking for ways to make this Montessori color material at home, Pink and Green Mama has a detailed tutorial on her website!
Otherwise, keep reading for other ways to explore color properties with paint chips!
3. Paint chip cutting practice – scissor skills
The white lines between the paint color sample are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to practice using scissors!
After cutting the paint swatches, the separate pieces can be used to compare light and dark gradation and color matching.
In the above example, we used paint chip “Easter eggs” for theme-based cutting practice!
4. Paint Chip Shape Puzzles
We’ve also used our paint chip cards to explore shapes!
In the above heart photo, my child put together heart puzzles by matching light to dark colors. She had fun making different combinations of colors!
However, to promote focus and independence in younger children, I recommend keeping the outer edge of the paint chips as shown below.
In the above photo, you can see how the edge of of the paint chip cards serve as a control so my child can rotate the shape to match the edges.
To make this puzzle, draw or trace shapes on the paint cards with a pencil. This is a great shape template for tracing different shapes!
Then use an X-acto knife to cut out each shape carefully.
5. Paint chip fruits and vehicles puzzles
With a sharp pen knife, we’ve also cut out shapes from paint chip cards so that it can become a fun puzzle!
Inspired by the above amazing fruit puzzle from @adelines_hearts_and_crafts, we created a transportation matching puzzle for my vehicle-loving son!
As you can see in the above photo outer edge serves as an extra control of error for kids who have not yet mastered the color shades.
To make the puzzle easier, have your child match the whole object shape.
When they have mastered that, cut the item in half and eventually smaller pieces along the white lines.
And one more tip for presenting puzzles: place in a open tray with pieces separate as shown above.
This encourage kids to complete the unfinished puzzle!
6. Color match scavenger hunt with paint sample cards
I absolutely love this color scavenger hunt idea from The Imagination Tree!
Nothing better than getting outside to explore with your children with free, fun, and natural learning!
In addition, if your family is rained or snowed in, a color scavenger hunt would make a great indoor gross motor learning activity!
Have you tried any of these paint chip activities with your kids?
If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below!
We’d love to hear about your learning experience!
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