Updated: May 26, 2021
A Companion Guide to Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool Curriculum
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Taste the Rainbow
Where Busy Toddler's Playing Preschool's Unit 1: Apples brought the fun to learning, Unit 2: Colors brought the learning to life. This unit gave me a lot of confidence because it was clear to me that I was actually teaching my toddler something. At 26 months, he didn't know his colors. I had been approaching teaching my child colors the same way I taught him vocabulary words: we repeatedly read a very simple book showing colors and objects of that color and I would ask him to tell me what color it was. After a while he had the book memorized, but when it came to pointing out objects in real life and asking him the color, it didn't carry over. Now, I know that some of it is developmental, and that they will learn things when they're cognitively ready, but since he actually learned his colors by the end of this unit, I can look back and see that my approach was flawed. That is not to say that we can't use books to teach colors, but it needs to be a much more immersive experience than just images on a page, which is why I freaking love Susie's approach.
Building Background Knowledge
Learning colors is abstract. At first it is hard for children to look past the concrete. For example, when you say, "Look at the red apple," and point to the apple, they see the object and the description is not the focus. One tip I read somewhere is to re-phrase it as "Look! The apple is red." This puts the focus on the color, not the object.
I love that Susie structured this unit to focus on one color each day. That being said, I started off by introducing the fact that there are LOTS of colors in the rainbow and that we would be learning about each one. You could model this with a game of hide-and-seek like in this Simple Songs "I See Something Red" video or talking about your favorite color like in this one "What's Your Favorite Color?"
*Books with an asterisk are my Top 5 Picks to Add to Your Home Library for this unit
Freight Train - Crews, Donald (red)
Mouse Paint* - Walsh, Ellen Stoll (orange and yellow)
Green - Seeger, Laura Vaccaro (green)
Rainbow Fish - Pfister, Marcus (blue)
Ten Black Dots - Crews, Donald (black)
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes - Litwin, Eric (white)
Brown Bear Brown Bear - Martin Jr., Bill / Carle, Eric (brown)
Additional Book List
Books in bold are also the suggested books in another unit.
Llama Llama Red Pajama - Dewdney, Anna
Big Red Barn* - Brown, Margaret Wise
Otis - Long, Loren
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear - Wood, Don & Audrey
The Red Book - Lehman, Barbara --> A wordless picture book and Caldecott Honor Book
Sheep in a Jeep - Shaw, Nancy E.
Clifford the Big Red Dog - Bridwell, Norman
Sticks - Alber, Diane --> A cute story about finding where you belong
Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins - Dean, James
Pumpkin Jack - Hubbell, Will
Apples and Pumpkins - Rockwell, Anne
Froggy Picks a Pumpkin - London, Johnathan
Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory* - Rey, H.A.
Gossie! A Gosling on the Go! - Dunrea, Olivier (promotes sharing)
Lemons are Not Red - Seeger, Laura Vaccaro
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree - Deenihan, Jamie L.B. (diverse characters)
Little Green Peas - Baker, Keith
A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park - Yazdani, Ashley Benham
Go Away, Big Green Monster! - Emberly, Ed
Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues - Dean, James
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family - Muhammed, Ibtihaj (diverse characters)
Blue - Seeger, Laura Vaccaro
My Ocean Is Blue - Lebeuf, Darren (characters with disabilities)
I Love You, Stinky Face* - Mccourt, Lisa
Good Night, Gorilla - Rathmann, Peggy
Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme - Westcott, Nadine Bernard
Jamberry - Degen, Bruce
Harry the Dirty Dog - Zion, Gene
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? - Carle, Eric
Black is a Rainbow Color - Joy, Angela (diverse characters)
The Mitten - Brett, Jan
The Darkest Dark - Hadfield, Col. Chris (promotes bravery)
White Rabbit's Colors - Baker, Alan
And Then It's Spring - Fogliano, Julie --> Everything is brown, and then hopeful sort of brown, and then spring comes!
The Colors of Us - Katz, Karen
If Dominican Were a Color - Recio, Sili
I Am Brown! - Banker, Ashok (diverse characters)
I Am Perfectly Designed - Brown, Karamo (diverse characters)
Bear Snores On - Wilson, Karma
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You - Dr. Seuss
Pink (Bonus Lesson)
Pinkalicious - Kann, Victoria
Flora and the Flamingo - Idle, Molly --> A wordless picture book
Dream Big, Little Pig! - Yamaguchi, Kristi
If You Give a Pig a Pancake - Numeroff, Laura
Rainbow Books for Review
See my post A Rainbow of Books featuring books that promote diversity, belonging, gender equality and being oneself using a different book for each color of the rainbow.
What Makes a Rainbow?: A Magic Ribbon Book - Schwartz, Betty Ann
Bear Sees Colors (The Bear Books) - Wilson, Karma
How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow - Sweeney, Monica
The Crayons' Book of Colors - Daywalt, Drew
Pink is for Boys - Pearlman, Robb (promotes gender equality)
Mixed: A Colorful Story - Chung, Arree (promotes diversity)
The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions - Llenas, Anna (promotes social emotional learning)
Festival of Colors - Sehgal, Surishtha --> A celebration of Holi (promotes diversity)
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse - Carle, Eric
My Very First Book of Colors - Carle, Eric
Eating the Alphabet - Ehlert, Lois
Color Zoo - Ehlert, Lois
A Rainbow of My Own - Freeman, Don
Monsters Love Colors - Austin, Mike
Mix It Up (Interactive Book) - Tullet, Herve
Susie's ABC Color Sort Learning Activity
Learning life skills: Take your child to grocery store and explore the vibrant of the colors of the produce aisle. Have them pick out what they would like to eat and serve them on that color day. You might be surprised what a picky toddler will try when it catches his eye!
It's one thing to know all your colors, but it is another to know the correct order they go in to make a rainbow, which I felt was important. We played with our Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacking Toy frequently to help with this.
At the beginning of the week, I made a big batch of Susie's Rainbow Rice and stored each color in separate bags. Each day we added the color of the day to our sensory bin. It was fun to start with red and end with a rainbow.
Each day, we made Jell-o Jigglers in each color (or pudding for white and brown) because Jell-o is super cheap and then used cookie cutters to cut out shapes, talking about and manipulating them. My son is also in a sea creature phase right now, so I included some of these for interest.
I saved all the scraps from each color of Jell-o in the fridge and at the end of the week I dumped them into a storage container to make a Jell-o sensory bin. My little one actually wasn't feeling well at the time so it was the perfect indoor activity. I set it up in the shower for easy clean-up. It pretty much blew his mind.
I used mini M&M's and Fruit Loops to entice (okay, bribe) my son to review his colors. If he could tell me what color it was, he got to eat it (in limited quantities).
At the end of the unit, we used crayons to draw a rainbow to keep with our Alphabet Portfolio.
My son mastered most of the colors pretty easily, but for some reason he was struggling with purple and orange so I made sure to review those frequently and he eventually caught on.
When doing color sorting, I started out doing just a few colors and added on. Doing all the colors at once might be a fun challenge for some older toddlers, but I felt that mine needed more scaffolding to help him be successful.
For the Fruit Loop counting activity... when it came time to make the necklace, I learned a trick from my mom: use a piper cleaner instead of string or thread. Genius!
What was your favorite part of this unit? What other books did you read? What other activities did you do? Please share your photos and feedback in the Playing Preschool with Busy Toddler Curriculum Facebook Group in Photos/Albums/Year 1 Themes→ Colors
Until next time, may your coffee be warm and your toddler be busy!
Up Next: Playing Preschool: Unit 3 - Nursery Rhymes