Color Mixing With A Toddler & Preschooler

Doing projects with your kids is supposed to be fun for everyone, but when your kids are far apart in age it can be challenging. This project is perfect for different ages! Since having my daughter last year one of the most common questions I get is ” How do you craft with both kids?” Some days I do just a baby project, some days just a big kid one but there are times that we can all work together despite the almost 4 year age gap. This color mixing activity was perfect . They each had their parts and we had a blast being color scientists although if you ask my son his sister was his lab assistant not a full scientist, that is only for big kids.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some good quality zip lock bags, shaving cream, some paper, crayons or markers, and food coloring.
  2. Start by making a simple chart showing the colors to mix , leaving the result blank. Make sure you have the correct color of marker or crayon available for the result.  We made 4 colors, adjust the number of colors based on the attention span of your “scientists”.
  3. Add shaving cream to the zip lock. My son helped me with this step- he was so excited. I love when simple things make his day!
  4. Add the food coloring. We added 2 of each color but then increased it to 5. Look now they are counting too , I love when projects span many subject areas.
  5. Zip it up , making sure to squeeze out some air so when your “lab assistant” squishes it that the bag doesn’t pop.
  6. Squish! Until the colors are all mixed.
  7. She loved squishing, just watch they do not put it in their mouth. Whenever you are working with toddlers or infants you must always be within arms reach. Label the colors, use descriptive words while they explore.
  8. Come back and record the results by finding the correct color and completing the chart.
  9. Talk about the results. Ask if any colors were surprising , which color do they like the best and why?

Crafting, teaching or just generally parenting is different with multiple abilities but with a little effort you can find activities that can be done at the same time for every child in your care. We had a blast and another real benefit of a cooperative project like this is that your kids are working together something that isn’t always so easy to achieve.

Matching Rainbow

by Katy

This post is about a learning activity I did with my son, Charlie, but it’s also about working with special needs kids in general and how sometimes you might have to look at something differently to get the desired result. I wanted to share this activity with you all because it involved some problem solving, but in the end it was completely worth it. Working and teaching a special needs child can have it’s challenges, but when you can it right, you’re on top of the world.

For this activity we used:

  • A piece of poster board or card stock
  • markers
  • colored dot stickers (Available on the stationery aisle almost anywhere)

For this activity, I wanted to do something with a rainbow and colors. After spotting some “dot stickers” on the stationery aisle, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I drew a rainbow with a black marker on half a sheet of poster board. I then used those markers to color it myself–my son hates markers. Did spend a lot of time on it–just enough to make it very clear where each color should be.

We then took out the stickers and began places the stickers in the matching section of rainbow.

We started off guiding Charlie through the motions, waiting for him to start initiating some himself, but we weren’t getting a whole lot out of him. Then my husband remembered that Charlie has gotten very interested in other people’s hands–he likes to touch them, move them around, etc. So we switched things up. My husband held the sticker and asked Charlie where he should put it. Charlie immediately grabbed my husband’s hand and moved it to the correct place.

He did this nine times in a row–until it was clear to both of us that he had no trouble understanding matching. We were so excited to see that he not only understood the activity, but that he was pretty good at it too!

Working with a special needs child sometimes forces you to think outside of your comfort zone–consider different ways. Would it be great if my son could do this activity with no help from his parents? Of course, but in the mean time I want to keep stimulating his brain until his body catches up.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Trash Rainbow Craft

trash collage rainbow craft for kids

I love rainbows. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner rainbows have been popping up every time I sit down to brainstorm activities. This one was particularly fun because it used things I am cleaning out of my craft dump closet , incorporates my son’s incredible love of pretend play ( he’s a garbage sorter) and most every preschooler’s desire to sort.  You can do this in 2 parts sorting one day, making a rainbow the next or if I was still teaching I’d do this as a cooperative group project. My 4 year old did all the way up to putting the trash on then lost interest until I started putting some on and he ran back to the table saying he could do it better (is everything a competition in your house too? Sigh) so we did the gluing together.Make sure whatever materials you use that they are safe for the age/ ability of child you are doing this with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( I used a grocery bag cut open ), glue, scissors, colored pencils/markers , 7 small containers, small squares of paper in the colors of the rainbow, a mixed mess of “garbage ” -paper/ buttons/foam/plastic toys/ribbon in the colors of the rainbow.
  2. Next fill a container up with all the “garbage”
  3. Start sorting by color.
  4. I was so pleased with how much he liked this part of the activity. It seemed to go on and on forever as he pretended to need a coffee break from his job at the garbage sorting factory. We are not short on imagination in this house.
  5. While he returned to work I made the rainbow with colored pencils.
  6. Time to add glue. We added two glue for a few colors at a time.
  7. Add the objects! We did this part together
  8. Add more glue.
  9. Add more objects.
  10. Let dry.

Books About Rainbows

All our book lists include affiliate links.


Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

This project too complicated for your toddler? Yesterday in my Link &Learn weekly linky this awesome rainbow project from Toddler Approved was linked. When I saw it after writing this post I knew it would be a perfect link to share as an option for younger kids so I added it in .

Ice Fishing and Color Mixing !

To tell you the truth I didn’t plan this activity, I saw the fishing net , wanted to do something with it and didn’t have much for my son to catch so instead I made some ice.  To make it more fun we colored the ice, then to make it more educational we made them red and yellow to create orange ! It was a big hit and not as big a mess as I feared .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a bin or tub, a ice cube tray , food coloring , a fish net ( or soup ladle) and water. You will also need plain ice for the second part.
  2. Start by putting a few drops of food coloring in your ice tray – half one color, half the other. 
  3. Add water and freeze.
  4. Fill your tub with water – ours was too warm, the ice melted so quickly the color mixing was fast. When I do it again I will use cold water so it’s a slower mix.
  5. When ice firm, show it to your child and tell them you are going to put it in the water. Ask them to make a prediction about what will happen to the ice when it is in the water, what will happen to the water ?  Pop it in!
  6. Mix and catch with net.
  7. Pop in more plain ice to “fish” – my son had fun with the color mixing but the extension of the activity was the real fun.

Color Wheel Match!

by Kim

Allie did a color matching activity very similar to this one over a year ago, but I recently this variation at a daycare when I went to pick up my friend’s child. I had to make it as the perfect multi-level learning activity for my home.

All you will need are clothespins, paint, marker, scissors, and posterboard.

I traced an upside down large mixing bowl to get my big circle. Then I sectioned it into 8 pieces, but you can do as many as you like. I painted each section a different color.

As I painted the sections I made sure that I painted a clothespin for each color as well. You will see two of each in the photo because I made two sets (and then had to make a third).

I wrote the names of each color in the section. I also wrote the names of each color on the clothespins.

I gave the kids the circles with the clothespins already attached to the appropriate sections. I asked them to pull off all of the clothespins and put them in a pile. They loved pulling them off, maybe a little too much.

Then I told them to match the clothespins to the colors on the wheel. I demonstrated one match up to really show them, too. After all I was dealing with 2 two year olds. My daughter started right at it.

This activity is great for matching, learning colors, and motor skills. Our foster child has trouble doing the pincher hold, so this activity was more for him to work on motor skills and hand-eye coordination (not so much on color matching). Oh, and it is working. He is getting better every time we play this activity. Eve his therapists have noticed a big difference. We will get the color matching down, one day. ;-)

My daughter is learning to match and get more familiar with her colors. But it doesn’t hurt to build those motor skills, either.

This activity is requested constantly at my house. The littler ones have so much fun playing with it that I had to make one for my four year old son, too. I am hoping we will have our colors down as sight words. We should as much as we play this.

So there you have it, an activity that can be done by different ages and developmental stages (including special needs). Here is my daughter so proud of her completion. I know that you can’t tell from the picture, but she is very happy and proud.