As a stay at home working mom, and former preschool teacher/administrator, you would think it would be easy to find ways to teach my children at home. If anything I should have a wealth of information available to me, and I do, but sometimes for busy moms it is hard to sort through all the information and find a lesson plan that works for your young ones. The most interesting thing about teaching the toddlers at home after working in a preschool/daycare environment is that now I can be more creative and tailor my lesson plans towards those things that I would like to instead of what the “state” or the director says I have to. Not to mention, sometimes when teaching at a school or even at home, children are not interested in what you have planned and it is good to have a “back up” plan to keep them entertained.
This week my daughters and I concentrated on color recognition. Here are some of the things we did this week that you can try at home or your classroom when you have your color themed week.
When teaching a color themed lesson plan take every opportunity that you can throughout the day to point out items and talk about what color they are. Discuss the color of shirts or pants your child is wearing. What colors they see throughout the day – look Dora’s backpack is purple for example. The fall season is a prime time to do this activity outside as you can take a walk in the park and collect leaves and discuss the reds, yellows, browns and greens. This fits well and leads into a fall or Halloween lesson plan very nicely providing you with several weeks of concentration on and reinforcement of certain concepts.
For Circle Time (as referred to in many preschools) but we call it quiet learning you can introduce colors by just holding up different colored construction papers. There is also as discussion about the colors in the room, the colors of different toys and the colors that my daughters and I are wearing.
Great toys to use during the color lessons are the mega blocks designed in either pastel or primary colors. My one year old loves the pop up toy which teaches her not only the different colors as they “pop” open but the numbers stated in the covers to the two year old and fine motor skills by pushing, twisting, and turning the knobs. Lego’s work well with color recognition also.
Painting or scribbling in an individual color- teaches fine motor skills, reinforces color recognition as well a works on creativity and seeing pictures within their own scribbles. Or you could try painting with different colors to see what colors are created by mixing them.
Chalk board drawings: Provide chalk (white and black or different colors) let your child scribble on the easel. If you don’t have one go outside and scribble on the sidewalk.
Create your own color book. Pick a color everyday, for example “brown.” On that day create a page, which says something like, “I love my brown bear.” Use examples from your child’s everyday world. Then cut out, print or create a picture of the brown bear and allow them to glue and decorate. At the end of the week they have created their own Book and they are so proud.
Gross Motor Play:
To get some energy out of your little one try these activities:
Color Hop: It is like a bunny hop. Take sheets of colored paper, large foam puzzle pieces, or create shapes with colored chalk outside. Have your child hop to colors as you call them out.
Dance and sing to “Ring around the Rosy.”
Pretzel stick for brown, orange slices for orange; peel a banana together for yellow or try pineapple slices. Apple slices can be used for yellow, green and red. Kiwi is great for green and carrot sticks for orange. Be creative, if your child likes mango – then go ahead. You can even try the mix of dried fruit and nuts with colored M&M’s in them for a potty teaching treat.
For pick up toy time try to call out colors of toys and you and your child pick up only the red toys at once, green toys at once.
Take a field trip:
Walk around outside and pick up items like flowers and leaves and paste them on paper. Talk about the colors as you paste them.
Go to a pumpkin patch or church fundraiser with pumpkins and squashes. You can even purchase a variety of squashes with different colors and talk about those as well as follow up the next week with decorating them for Halloween.
One book you may want to use when teaching color recognition is “My Very First Book of Colors,” by Eric Carle. In this board book children are taught not only color recognition but matching. The top half of the page is a solid color. You point to the color and either tell your toddler what it is or ask them to tell you. The bottom half is a matching game, you flip the bottom pages to “match” the top in color. You can also increase your toddler’s vocabulary by discussing the items pictured such as blue bird, airplanes and balloons.
For a visual learning activity you can rent or purchase the DVD, “Meet the Colors,” This video was created by the Preschool Prep Series and winners of Dr. Toys 10 Best Educational Products. In this short video toddler will be introduced to characters with names that correspond to there color.
Another DVD that is popular in my household is “Blue’s Clues Shapes and Colors.” Not only do Blue and Joe introduce the primary colors but many shapes including geometric ones, not normally introduced in a preschool or daycare environment. The DVD branches out to the older crowd by also showing how to mix colors (reinforcing individual colors) to create a new color, for example yellow and blue make green. By doing so children are taught a process as well as results and consequences.
Costs of these plans: My Very First Book of Colors, $5.99 on Amazon.com or try to get it from your local library; DVD Meet the Colors $14.99 unless you are lucky at your library – if not look for something from Sesame Street with color recognition, it will work just as well. I picked up the Blues Clues DVD which retails for 9.99. Most households and schools have the paint, crayons, markers; construction paper and chalk already stocked so no additional charge there. This is a great theme to use if you are on a budget this week.