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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sensory Bin + Color Sorting

I've been trying to teach Calvin color words/signs for months. I'm not, like, drilling him or anything, just making a point to name the colors of objects, reading books with color words, showing him the signs, trying to get him to name colors or find certain colors... basically incorporating it into our usual play and activities. And he is just not picking up what I'm laying down!

Since Fall of last year he's been able to learn nouns really quickly, and lately he's also starting to use more signs for verbs - go, run, jump, bounce, splash, swim, etc. But it's like there's a color block on color words!

He is making progress. If I say the color, he can usually pick the right object for most colors. Ok, some colors. And he will mostly match objects of the same color correctly. If he feels like it. I kind of think he just doesn't get why the colors matter. It's not like naming an animal you're really excited about seeing. Dear colors: He's just not that into you.

So I'm like, Challenge Accepted. And my inner elementary school teacher started devising color sorting and naming games. Here's a little game I played with him as an extension of playing with his rice sensory bin. He likes digging around in the bin of rice, finding hidden dinosaurs and animals, and using scoops to scoop and pour the grains. So this time I pulled out a little color sorting tray that I'd made and I encouraged him to take the objects he found in the rice bin and sort them by color.

The color sorting tray is a plastic paint palette from the craft store. I colored each well with a Sharpie.

The rice bin, apart from being a totally cheap and easy source of entertainment, is a type of "sensory bin."  Playing with different textures can help kids with sensory integration. Here's an article that does a nice job explaining why sensory play is important.  Inside the rice, I buried little animal-shaped beads, buttons, pom poms and dinosaur erasers for Calvin to dig up. 

As he pulled out each toy, I encouraged him to place it on the sorting tray with the corresponding color. He did OK, but he wasn't really into the sorting part. I tried to show him that I was really enthused about it and I think he was humoring me :) Mostly he wanted to put the dinosaurs back into the rice and dig them up again! All right, kid. Dig up dinosaurs.

I don't see any major reason to push the color words right now, but I do think it's a worthwhile part of expanding his vocabulary. I also think that sorting activities like this are nice for general comparing/organizing/categorizing skills and also another form of sensory play. He'll learn those darn color words eventually! #nopressure #hesjustnotthatintoyou And I've got some more ideas for teaching colors up my sleeve. #teacheratheart #playtolearn

And even though Calvin wasn't excited about this sorting activity (just like he wasn't into the sensory balloons we made!), maybe your kid would dig it ;)


  1. I think your hashtags are right on the money. Watching my kids explore their world as well as watching the kids in my daycare and those who were in the preschool classes when I taught, I found that kids had just as much variation in what interested them as the adults I know. Different kids saw value and excitement in different things. If they weren't interested in something then they saw it as an unwelcome distraction from what they were more interested in. Eventually they see a reason to focus on something that they had never wanted to learn before. I like your sorting game!

  2. love it! very clever and creative! kudos to you and we both know he'll get it! he might really know already and just be messing with you!

    1. Hahaha You know, maybe you're right! Also, every time he puts something with a non-matching color I wonder if he has his own reason that he just can't explain... :)

  3. Super cute activity! You would think dinosaurs would be very motivating. I made a similar matching activity with colored cars and parking spots a while ago and got a similar uninterested response. Sagan's still not that into colors. I think he knows most of them now, but he still asks. He also doesn't have any color preferences. I think some kids just don't pay much attention to them and pay attention to other things instead - Calvin notices every little sound and loves music!