Homeschool Preschool: Colors & Shapes

Make pictures with simple shapes.

Looking for ideas for teaching your child colors and shapes? Start here!

* Play with your child and talk about colors and shapes. For example, if your child says, "Look at this truck!" Reply, "Oh yes. That's a nice red truck."

* Play sorting games and sort by color. Use matchbox cars, colored blocks, buttons, M&Ms - whatever you have on hand and that interests your child.

* Most of the time, let your child color or scribble as she likes. But encourage her to identify the colors she chooses. For instance, if you give your child a coloring page of a kitten, say, "What color should your kitty be? Black, like our kitty? Or orange, like Grandma's?" Or "I like your flower. What color is it? Is it yellow?" You can also color or draw with your child and discuss color choices. For example, you might draw a picture of your child and point out that you're using blue for his eyes and brown for his hair.

* At meal time, talk about the colors of the food. "What is your favorite food?" you might ask. Then, "Oh, I love the yellow color of the corn, too."

* Have a color meal. Choose a color and put only foods that are that color on your child's plate. For example, if you choose the color red, you might serve red apples, red sweet pepper, strawberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, kidney beans, and so on.

* Play a scavenger game. Ask your child to find everything he can that's a certain color. For instance, you might say, "How many red things can you find?" If your child brings items of a different color, correct him gently, "That's very pretty. It's blue. We're looking for red things, like this ball." This same game works for shapes, too.

* Read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Follow the story with some related coloring pages.

* Make a simple color caterpillar. Cut out circles in all the basic colors, then help your child glue the caterpillar together, all while talking about the colors. If your child knows most of her colors, be sure to ask her to fetch certain color circles. For example, "Now let's glue the blue circle."

* Make or purchase play dough in all the basic colors and talk with your child about those colors as you play. Now, use cookie cutters (or roll the dough into cylinders, to be used like lines), shape the dough into circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, hearts, and ovals.

* Play Candy Land. At first, your child will need plenty of help identifying colors and following the path on the board, but eventually, she'll play without much help at all.

* Print and cut out these colored shape cards. Use them like flashcards at first: "What color is this?" "What shape is this?" Then use them for a matching game: Place one of each shape/color on the floor and ask your child to find the matching shape/color from a stack nearby.

* Play with blocks and talk about the various shapes used. Examples: "I like how you used that triangle," "Here, let's see what happens if we add this rectangle."

* Read a shape book - the more simple, the better. (Don't purchase one where your child must search for the shapes.) As you read, be sure the trace the shapes with your finger. Encourage your child to trace the shapes with his finger, too.

* Point out shapes and colors wherever you go. "That stop sign is red; this step is shaped like a rectangle," and so on. To help your child see the shapes in everyday things, trace them with your finger.

* Do simple craft projects that use plain colors and easy to identify shapes, such as this shape landscape, this Santa, or this Elmo. To prevent unnecessary frustration, cut out the shapes for your child ahead of time.

* Have a shape or color for the day. If today's shape is a triangle, for example, point out every triangle you can find, wherever you go, and encourage your child to do the same.

* Make a collage of all one shape or color. Look through old catalogs and magazines with your child and have her point out the shapes/colors you should cut out. Then have your child glue them onto a piece of paper. If you do this every day (or every week) for all the basic shapes and colors, your child can create her own "Shape Book" or "Color Book," held together by ribbons or staples.

More Articles in the Homeschool Preschool Series:

Why Homeschool Preschool? 
Thoughts on Readiness 
How Much Time? 
Scissor Skills
The Balance Beam Game

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  1. All great ideas! My youngest had a particularly tough time remembering her colors...except PINK. Every other color was "Balooooo" (translation: Blue). We worked with her quite a bit, using blocks, picture books, toys...but the thing that did it was HAIR CLIPS! You gotta find something that connects with your little one's personality :)