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Is there anything more fascinating to a child than color? I’ve never met a child that didn’t love rainbows, have a favorite color they are passionate about (even if it changes on a daily basis), and love pointing out every color they see… “Look mom, that’s a green train.” “I want the purple grapes!” What better way to inspire kids with even more colorful thoughts than to use a color theme unit?
When Zach got his subscription to Koala Crate from his Gram for Christmas, I knew it would be the perfect foundation for designing our very own homeschool unit studies. Using the color box as a framework, I started creating a color theme unit of our very own. If you’re not familiar with Koala Crate, it’s an awesome monthly subscription box geared at three and four year olds, from the same people who created KiwiCrate. They now have a whole family of brands starting at 3 and working up to teens. Each KoalaCrate comes with supplies and ideas for activities you can do at home surrounding a specific theme.
This month, our box contained high-quality art supplies like crayons and paints, crafts for Zach (like a banner he could paint and color himself, and color cards that taught basics like color mixing), dice and transparencies to use in games and experiments, and a mini magazine for Zach to read that is all about the theme of the month. Additionally, there’s a parent guide that says how to use the supplies in the box (and a handy guide that tells you how much mess and how much parental help is involved in each activity), as well as some ideas on extension activities and books to read related to the theme.
The ideas inside were plenty to last us for a month, and acted as a jump start for our very own color theme unit. Of course, you can use the crates as a standalone, but for us, it works perfectly as a start to our very own unit on color. (Pssst. If you want to sign up for KoalaCrate and try it yourself, you can do so by clicking on the banner below or this link).
Whether or not you sign up for KoalaCrate, here are some great ideas and activities you can try at home for your very own Color Theme Unit:
Color Science One great way to teach kids about color mixing is the tried-and-true plant technique, where you take celery or white daisies or another type of plant and split the stem in the middle, putting one color on one side and one on the other. While each side will have it’s own color, there may be a little bit in the middle that shows the mix, and that’s the cool part.
You can also implement color mixing principles by taking snow (if you have it!) and food coloring, and applying drops of food coloring in one color to one side, another color to another, and seeing what happens as the snow melts and the colors mix.
Parents, this one may make you cringe, but pick up some cheaper play dough, and allow kids to pick two colors to mix together! The best success comes from primary colors, so don’t be afraid to squish together red with blue or blue with yellow to see what happens!
Adding Color to Sensory Play You can make your own colored rice by putting a few drops of food coloring in a baggie of dried rice, then shake, shake, shaking it. Make a rainbow of rice for a sand table or sensory box!
Have a Colorful Taste Test Go to the grocery store and see what great colors are available in the produce department. The most fun is had when you try different colors of the same item (purple carrots vs. orange carrots… red, yellow, green, orange bell peppers… purple, red, and green grapes) but you can even do it by just picking out a rainbow of items and tasting the different colors of fruits and vegetables, or cook something special together.
Try your hand at Marble Painting Marble painting is one of those projects that stays relatively well-contained and produces really beautiful results. We used some 6×6 stretched canvases and placed them in a box, then dribbled a few colors of paint on it and added some marbles. Where do you find Marbles at your local Walmart? I’ll give you a hint– they’re not in toys or crafts. They’re in floral arranging. Yes, floral.
Part of the fun with marble painting is the experimenting. We tried some with contrasting colors, some that were monochromatic, some that used only two marbles, and some that used ten marbles, and all of them had their own unique look and feel.
As a mom, part of me was very tempted to tell Zach what colors to use and how to do it. The joy in this project came from just letting go and allowing him to express himself creatively (even if I thought the multi-red canvas was a bit… bloody…. His favorite color is red, and it worked for him!)
These marble paintings are unique and tied together in the common aspect of design style. They’re also vibrant and full of life, and relatively low-mess (you will need a box and you’ll need some marbles, which can be washed off later). Otherwise, most of the mess is contained in the box and stays put, which makes it a great craft to do with toddlers. Of course, supervision is necessary, as marbles do pose a choking hazard. I finished these off with a little bit of paint to the sides, and we’ve made the paintings part of a special gallery wall by Zach’s bed.
Integrate language learning into a color theme unit. We have been using the Little Pim DVDs to learn Spanish. When we did our color scavenger hunt, we looked for items that were a specific color, speaking of the color in English. After awhile, we began rolling our dice (which was included in our KoalaCrate) and referring to the color in both English and Spanish. Finally, we finished our scavenger hunt by seeking out items that matched the color while using only the Spanish word for the color. Learning and sharing terms in a language your child is learning is a great way to stimulate that learning process (and it’s never too early to learn a language).
Paint with Spaghetti! (Or other unusual materials. But spaghetti paintings are seriously the best). Spaghetti paintings are high on the messy list, but they’re so fun to make. Start by boiling some spaghetti until it’s al dente, just like if you were to eat it (but after you paint, be sure to discard). Dip spaghetti into tempera paints, then swirl, slap, and spread it around the paper to create interesting designs.
The result will be some painted spaghetti that looks like this (and should be discarded)…
…and paintings like this! You can definitely tell which were slapped and which were swirled, which were dabbed and which were dragged, so encourage your child to play with different painting techniques and make several paintings (after all, you have the spaghetti, may as well use it all! And yes, it can be rinsed and re-used). Further, this is a fun painting to get older kids and even adults to do– it’s just so wild!
Have a color theme day. Let your child pick a color and incorporate it into your day as much as possible. Wear that color of clothing, eat that color of food, and try to incorporate that color into art work that day. For example, if your child chose red, you might wear a red tee shirt and red socks, have a breakfast of a red berry smoothie, red yogurt and red bell peppers as sides at lunch time, spaghetti with red sauce and strawberries for dinner, and paint with red paint or do an all-red drawing.
There are a lot of great ways to enjoy a color theme unit, and your child can learn richly. The best part about a color theme unit is that you can tailor it to your child’s age– maybe they’re still on basic color recognition, and a color theme unit can lead to mastery. Maybe they’re past that and ready for color mixing.
While KoalaCrate is great about recommending books that fit the theme of the box for added extension, I’ve added some more suggestions of books that fit well into a color theme unit. We added them to our book basket and tried to add it to a regular rotation in our bedtime reading routine. Here are the books we loved for our color unit:
If you want MORE color themed activities, be sure to follow my Color Theme Unit board on Pinterest!
You can’t beat playing with color– it’s just so much fun. Whether you’ve gone for KoalaCrate (which I highly recommend) or are just planning to enjoy color on your own, it’s so much fun to explore and let your child experience art, science, and reading.
If you’d like more activities for kids, try our activity ideas for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!
Disclaimer: KoalaCrate boxes are shipped at random by sending you a theme you haven’t gotten in your subscription yet. Subscribing does not guarantee you will get the color theme box. With that said, KoalaCrate is awesome regardless of the theme you receive! Stay tuned for more units modeled after KoalaCrate themes!
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