12 - 48 Months

4 activities that expose your toddler to the wonder of color

Child playing with color foam in the bathtub

Adding color to sensory activities heightens your toddler’s interest and keeps their attention longer. The more your toddler engages their senses, the stronger the neural pathways in their brain become. A little color can add up to a lot of learning 

Here are some simple color sensory projects for you and your toddler to do together:

Sidewalk chalk paint

You only need three ingredients from your kitchen and a muffin tin to make this DIY paint. It’s great for use on your sidewalk, driveway, or patio and easily washes off in the rain. Older siblings may love it, too ❤️ Here’s how to make it:

  1. Mix equal parts cornstarch and water in a container
  2. Pour the mixture into a muffin tin
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring to each muffin cup
  4. Head outside and give your toddler a paintbrush. Show them how they can paint the pavement with the different colors.

Bath paint 

You can also try “painting” with shaving cream in the bathtub. There are so many benefits to letting your toddler get messy, like building their sensory skills and cognitive development, and keeping everything (and everyone) in the bathtub makes cleanup easy 😉

  1. Squirt shaving cream into small reusable plastic cups or containers. 
  2. Add 1 to 2 drops of food coloring to each cup and let your toddler mix into the shaving cream with a paintbrush or popsicle stick.
  3. Strip your toddler down to just a diaper and set them in the tub. If they seem unsure of what to do, show them how to use their fingers to “paint” with the shaving cream.
  4. If your toddler isn’t so sure about getting messy at first, they can try painting with a paintbrush or small pieces of sponge at first. 

Please limit to 1 to 2 drops per cup of shaving cream and rinse from skin as soon as play is done—too much food coloring can result in a light and temporary stain on skin. If preparing bath paint in advance, mix again just before play to recombine as color can separate and increase chance of staining. If staining occurs, wash gently with baby-safe soap and warm water to remove.

Rainbow rice

Rice is a fantastic alternative to sand. It isn’t dusty, it won’t get in your toddler’s eyes, and each grain of rice is distinct, making it an interesting texture for your toddler to examine and explore. Adding different colors makes a fun, confetti-like material for sensory play. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Pour a cup of white rice into a ziplock bag.
  2. Add a pinch of powdered food coloring (or a combination of 1 teaspoon white vinegar and a few drops of liquid food coloring) to the bag.
  3. Seal the bag well and shake until the color is blended in with all of the rice.
  4. Repeat this until you’ve made as many separate colors as you want.
  5. Pour the rice in separate colored lines on a cookie sheet and let them dry.
  6. Invite your toddler to draw shapes in the rice with their fingers, mix it all up, add toy animals or cars, or transfer the rice to a bin or bowl and play with spoons, measuring cups, and funnels. 
  7. You’ll have the best luck keeping this activity contained by pouring the rice in a smaller bin, then placing that bin in a larger container.

Walking rainbow jar

In this fun (and beautiful) STEM project, primary colors mix and create a rainbow as they climb up paper towels and back down into jars of water. It’s easy to set up and fascinating for your toddler to watch. This is how to do it:

  1. Arrange six small wide-mouthed jars or glasses next to each other in a circle.
  2. Fold a paper towel lengthwise into strips and cut the ends to fit flush inside the bottoms of two jars, making an arch between them.
  3. Fold five more paper towels to connect the rest of the jars. Set the paper towel strips aside for a moment.
  4. Fill every other jar about three-quarters full of water.
  5. Add a few drops of red food coloring to the water in one jar, yellow to the next, and blue to the third.
  6. Place the paper towel arcs between each pair of jars (each jar should have two paper towels in it)
  7. Watch and wait ❤️


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Posted in: 12 - 48 Months, Gross Motor, Creativity, Playtime and Activities, STEM, Child Development

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