Children are natural sorters. Sorting things helps them makes sense of things and you have probably noticed your child sorting things like toys, crayons, and blocks. This activity adds a little novelty to sorting by using a contact paper sticky wall and color recognition too. What I love about activities like this is that as simple as they are they promote so many types of learning like counting, comparing sizes and even exploring textures all without direct instruction from an adult. Here is how we did it.
Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper, something to attach it to the wall ( I used thumbtacks but painter’s tape works better), felt leaves in various colors ( you could use paper too), scissors and brown paper.
Place the felt leaves in a tray or box and set them up within easy reach. I added a dot of color on each tree but that’s optional. You could also just add one leaf to each for a prompt if need be. Do not give kids any prompts if they don’t need them.
Sort! You may notice that my little helper is in a new outfit. After we made the activity she wasn’t ready for it and instead wanted to play with a sensory bin I’d been constructing. Then we read… eventually we got back to this after getting dressed for the day. I know it’s exciting when you set up a project but if your child isn’t into it don’t push. Leave it set up and they will go check it out , enjoy it more and most importantly learn more because they are interested and not forced.
Additional ideas :
- Use shapes instead of felt leaves
- Use word families
- Use numbers
Candy is a great motivator. It’s not the main motivator I want to use but from time to time it’s novelty is useful and a fun break from more everyday things. This is a simple math game for kids that works on sorting, estimation ,and counting. When working with kids and edibles my rule is that if you do not sneak any you get a small pile at the end of the activity. My son is a rule follower by nature and did this as we have in the past. His 3 year old sister did not. Every child is different but that rule has worked for me over the years much more often than not. Have pom poms or buttons on hand if you need to swap out or prefer not to use candy at all.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of paper with three trees on it ( you can print mine here) , cookie sheets to keep the candies from rolling away, candies ( our natural dyed red is sorta wine colored but the kids didn’t bat an eye), a small dish for each player, and a jar with a lid.
- Give each child a sheet with three trees and a small dish. Shake up the jar with all 3 colors of candies in it and pour some into each child’s dish.
- Have them guess which tree will have the most apples on it by estimating which color is the most prevalent in their dish of candies.
- Start sorting the candies and placing them on the matching trees.
- Which has the most? Which has the least? How many do they all have? Count to find out.
- Sneak a few candies… or every single green candy when mom is busy taking pictures of your big brother counting.
- Pour the candies back in the jar, shake, and repeat the game. For my son I had him figure out how many more the tree with the most had than the tree with the least and do some other simple addition and subtraction by allowing him to eat a few and then telling me how many there were after eating them. For my daughter I had her simply count and sort. I loved how easy it was to adapt to both their levels.
Books About Apple Trees
Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard. This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking. The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book, I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.
Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace will not be returned to the library on time. We got it out today and my son has had me read it to him 3 times, and his dad read it twice. Clearly it gets the 3 year old seal of approval. It also gets mine. The story is more than just a story about a afmily going apple picking at an orchard. It explains all sorts of apple facts but what I really love is that it also explains that there are different kinds of apples and each are used for different things. Since each member of the family is using their apples for different purposes that fact is driven home . Great book for preschoolers going on a apple picking field trip , making applesauce or apple prints.
One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert is stunning. I really enjoy this author but most of my praise for this book lands squarely on the illustrator Karla Gudeon’s shoulders. WOW. I just adore the look, and creativity of this book. The story follows the cycle of one apple from orchard, to market back to seed, tree and back into the hands of a child. I enjoy books like this that simply explain the cycles of the natural world to young kids , but you can’t miss this one. As I turned each page I gasped, it’s one of those books you just need to sit and look at because each time you do you find some little detail you missed before.This post contains affiliate links.
This simple color matching activity works on more than just color recognition. It also works on fine motor skills and even counting. I used a butterfly theme because my daughter adores them but if your child is not into butterflies use whatever theme they are into . I wasn’t planning on her coloring the butterflies at first but as I was setting the activity up she wanted to help so I started over and she colored as many as she wanted. When we do activities like these I usually play once with my children and then leave the set up on the table in the playroom for a few days ready for them to play independently.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper cut outs ( our butterflies were pink on one side and white on the other ) , markers in a variety of colors, crayons on the same, and a mix of small items like buttons, beads, and pom poms.
- Start by writing the color names on your butterflies. As you do the activity you can point out the word and individual letters as well.
- Color the butterflies. My daughter colored pink and green and I colored the rest with the crayons.
- I taped the butterflies down with painter’s tape to help avoid any slipping while playing. Nothing like a spill or slip to frustrate a three year old and end the activity.
- Add your bowl of bits and pieces and start matching! I loved listening to her dialogue with herself when she found a bead that wasn’t in one of the colors we chose. ” Oh so sorry we don’t have your color.” and ” Too bad no brown.” it also presented a choice does she try to find the closest color or just leave them in the bowl? She soon focused almost all her energies on finding pink and only pink beads and buttons. This activity also lent itself naturally to counting. Count the colors, count the beads vs pom poms … there are lots of opportunities for learning.
Books About Colors
Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!
Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd was a huge hit at our house. My son loved identifying the colors of all the drips of paint, ice cream and more that Dog gets on him throughout the day. This is a great book not only because it has counting and colors but because of the language it uses while the spots of color are splatting, squashing ans squishing onto his beautiful white fur. My son loved repeating these words with enthusiasm as he noted how poor Dog was getting so messy! It’s a fun book to read and one that I have added to my wish list !
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter has loved this book for years and it was the first book she memorized and “read” to us.This post contains affiliate links.
Finding activities that both my two year old and her six year old brother enjoy isn’t always easy. More and more he wants to do something she doesn’t have the patience or skill for yet. One thing they both love are hunts. Simple materials, fun game and a ton of learning. This bug hunt has color matching , counting and sorting as well as a ton of fun. This activity was a great way for both of them to play and learn together. As you will see they worked at their own level while working together. Although we used bugs you could use any small items like plastic Easter eggs, simple blocks or even cut out shapes.
- Gather your materials. You will need many multi colored small objects to hide, construction paper in the same colors ( we chose a rainbow theme but you could do any colors) and some kids eager to find things.
- Spread your colors out on a flat surface like the floor or table.
- Hide your bugs. Can you see any in this picture ?
- Explain the rules of the game. Find the bug and sort it in the correct color. For my son I added the following challenges : After he found a bug and put it in the right color I asked him to see which color had the most bugs and which had the least. This made him pause so his sister had a slight chance at finding some of the bugs and gave him a little math lesson too.
- Start finding those bugs! They were so quick it was hard for me to catch any pictures.
- My daughter loved sorting them and every now and then I would sneak one into the wrong color and she’d fix it.
- When we found them all I asked them to count. My daughter counted all the bugs in each color and my son counted all the bugs in every color. He also told me which color had the most, which had the least .
- After that he went off to play Lego but my daughter and I played two more times.
Books About Bugs
We try to always match up activities with books to reinforce active play with quality reading time. Here are 19 great bug books for you and your little bug hunters to check out.
Playdough is one of our favorite materials and as you will see I rarely use homemade stuff. I love real Play-Doh especially the smell. So we bought the real stuff ( although homemade would work just as easily) and made a simple multi-sensory color sorting activity. This activity works on color and shape recognition, fine motor skills and counting. It’s also easy to set up and fun.
- Gather your materials. You will need play-doh in various colors. We did the rainbow but any combination of colors would work. You will also need some buttons, wood shapes, pony beads, or other small items in the same or very similar colors.
- Set up your play-doh. I used half a canister for each color.
- Invite your little genius to come match up some colors. My daughter was into it immediately. She loves pushing small things into play-doh so I knew she would be into this. I was still happy she was enjoying herself.
- Adding the small items works on color matching , shape recognition and of course fine motor skills too. While they add the items try narrating their actions saying things like “You found the blue circle!” and ” You added the red star to the red play-doh.” if you are new to narrating it can feel a little odd but it really helps toddlers and preschool aged kids with vocabulary and it prompts conversation. Older kids will let you know when it’s no longer welcome , trust me .
- When she was done with adding the buttons and beads she counted each color. When we were one she helped me take the items out and put the play-doh away.
Books To Check Out
These Books About Colors are my very favorite and all go so well with this activity whether you choose to match up one color or the whole rainbow.