A few years ago, I created a simple and fun clothespin color matching for my daughter with recycled cardboard. This was one of my daughter’s favorite fine motor activities between the ages of 2 and 4 years old!
Now that my son is 2.5 years old, he is working on color recognition and strengthening fine motor skills everyday. I can’t believe how fast he is growing! Already, he can play with big sister’s old activities!
Color matching, pegging, and combining these 2 skills
In this post, I’ll share:
- Tips for teaching colors to toddlers
- Benefits of pegging activities
- Considering when a child is developmentally ready for certain activities
- Instructions on how to set up clothespin color matching
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How to teach children colors
Color introduction through descriptive observations
From infancy, you can start by being specific with descriptions of items that your child encounters in daily life. Children love to see how they relate to the world!
For example, tell your child you are going to put on his or her BLUE shirt and BROWN pants. You can also point out that daddy is also wearing a BLUE shirt and BROWN pants and show excitement about matching (and twinning!).
In addition, when we see a black piece of paper or a black computer, I’ll show my toddler that the color matches our black hair.
While it’s helpful to narrate so kids learn the language, I also want to stress that we should remain quiet at times so kids have a chance to think, observe, and discover colors on their own.
Focus on a few colors at a time
When a child is between ages 1 to 3, you can spend a few weeks or months focusing on just one or two colors at a time with plenty of repetition.
Some parents start with the primary colors, then secondary colors, and the review the whole rainbow.
Clothespin color matching: Benefits of pegging activities
Instead of buying toys and activities that your child with outgrow, clothespin color matching is an easy-to-make project that can benefit your child’s development.
Toddlers and preschoolers in the prime stage of learning colors, and this activity encourages visual discrimination by matching.
In addition, toddlers and preschoolers are learning to use their hand muscles in complex ways. They want to squeeze, pull, grasp, and pinch everything!
Manipulating clothespins hones in on those practical skills and paves the way for pencil grip and future writing.
Clothespin color matching: When is a child ready for this activity?
Consider a child’s developmental level
A few months ago after my son mastered the basic colors of the rainbow, I was excited to take out this clothespin activity from storage!
Initially, the activity was frustrating for him. Although his little fingers could open large clothespins and chunky kitchen bag clips, these mini clothespins were difficult to manipulate. He complained, “I don’t like this, Mommy! Hmmph!”
I realized that he was not yet ready for the activity, but I didn’t have large clothespins to replace the mini ones. Therefore, I put it away and found other fine motor activities that excited him, like this bottle cap activity!
Now, the clothespin color matching activity is the perfect challenge for his level – not too hard and not too easy!
Trial and error is normal when introducing activities!
I wanted to share our experience, because many parents are worried when their child doesn’t seem interested in an activity. In reality, they might not be developmentally ready for it. On the other hand, an activity might be unappealing if it’s too easy.
Sometimes it takes time and trial and error to find the sweet spot of an activity! Keep observing your child and be flexible with expectations! At the very least, this activity costs almost nothing and is recyclable!
Implementing language into activities
Since Chinese is one of my daughter’s 3 languages, I included Chinese characters with this activity for word exposure. Mandarin Chinese is a minority language for our family, which means that my children rarely meet other people who speak Chinese. In addition, we don’t see Chinese characters unless I introduce them at home.
Therefore, I try to make our minority language as fun and relevant as possible by including Chinese in these activities!
Important vocabulary in Chinese, Pinyin, and English:
- 衣夹 (Yī jiā / clothespin, peg)
- 夹 (Jiā / clip)
- 红, 橙, 黄, 绿, 蓝, 紫, 粉 (hóng, chéng, huáng, lǜ, lán, zǐ, fěn/ red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink)
- 原色 (Yuánsè / primary color)
- 二次色 (Èr cì sè / secondary color)
Clothespin color matching: what you need
Take out your collection of colorful clothespins (eg, pegs), grab some markers, and find any piece of cardboard or paper, and voilà! You have an easy color and word learning activity!
Clothespin Color Matching: How to Set up the Activity
- Color spots on edge of paper or cardboard. I made 3 different cards – one with all colors, one with primary colors, and one with secondary colors
- Label each colorful spot with corresponding character: 红, 橙, 黄, 绿, 蓝, 紫 (hóng, chéng, huáng, lǜ, lán, zǐ/red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
- Clip clothespins to matching color
- Discuss which colors are primary (红, 黄, 蓝) and which are secondary (橙, 绿, 紫)
More hands-on learning activities for children
- Clothespin activities for children
- DIY activities with recycled materials (eg, cardboard)
- Educational activities library organized by topic
Usborne Big Book of Colors in Chinese
Bilingual Facebook Group
As always, please leave a comment with any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer them!
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Happy playful learning, friends!