Crazy For Color

We're over the rainbow for these fun and creative ways to teach children about color. Using these books, games, activities, and crafts, your kid's world will take on a whole new hue.

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Mix-a-Lot

Dane Tashima

Mix-a-Lot

Squirt a few dabs of various colored paints into a quart-size plastic bag, seal it, tape to table or wall, and let her squish away. It's a great activity for neatnik kids -- and easy cleanup for parents!

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Explore Shades

Dane Tashima

Explore Shades

When children have mastered basic color concepts, they are ready to learn the subtleties of shades. A few ways to play:

  1. Cut up paint-sample strips and have your child line them up from darkest to lightest.
  2. Have your child create three different shades from the same crayon or pencil by using light, medium, and hard pressure.
  3. With watercolors, kids can experiment with the number of times their brush is swirled in the paint before they take it to paper: two times for lilac and 14 times for plum.
  4. Make lighter shades of any color paint by mixing in varying amounts of white in small cups.

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Go To Pieces

Dane Tashima

Go To Pieces

Once your child fits the 96 pieces of this Siebensachen by Adam+Harborth puzzle together he'll see the full spectrum emerge. 6 years+, Colouring Colour Wheel Puzzle, $20; plasticastore.com

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Play by the Book

Dane Tashima

Play by the Book

MoMA's The Color-Play Coloring Book features open-ended, oversize pages as well as child-friendly art lessons. 4 to 8 years, $17; chroniclebooks.com

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Colorful Cookies

End-o'-the-Rainbow Cookies

Colorful Cookies

Sweet, colorful rainbow cookies make a delightful, ROY-G-BIV-approved treat!

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Tint Their View

Dane Tashima

Tint Their View

Teach children 8 and older how colors mix by holding these translucent paddles up to the light (younger kids will just have fun creating shades). Set of 18 paddles, $10; homesciencetools.com

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Read in Full Color

Dane Tashima

Read in Full Color

This bundle of books provides a rainbow of vibrant words and stories.

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Planting a Rainbow

Amazon.com

Planting a Rainbow

"Every year Mom and I plant a rainbow..." begins this tale of a garden tended by a mother and child. 4 to 8 years, $18

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TouchThinkLearn: Colors

ChronicleBooks.com

TouchThinkLearn: Colors

This board book's unique format (scooped-out and raised cutouts) offers a touch-and-feel tome. 3 years+, $15

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The Day The Crayons Quit

Amazon.com

The Day The Crayons Quit

In this New York Times best-seller, a boy opens his crayon box and discovers the colors have resigned! Instead, he finds letters detailing their grievances, which he must address. 6 to 8 years, $18

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Amazon.com

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Learn about animals and colors in this classic singsong story by Bill Martin, Jr., with collaged illustrations by Eric Carle. 2 to 5 years, $17

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Matthew's Dream

Amazon.com

Matthew's Dream

In this colorful tale, the lovable mouse-child Matthew is inspired by a class trip to a museum, settles on "artist" as his vocation, and then sets about creating magnificent works to adorn his home. 3 to 7 years, $7

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Little Blue and Little Yellow

Amazon.com

Little Blue and Little Yellow

Little Blue and Little Yellow are friends, and when they reunite after a separation, they hug and turn green. Drama ensues. 4 to 8 years, $7

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Mix It Up!

Amazon.com

Mix It Up!

In this new book by Hervé Tullet, author of Press Here, vibrant smears of color teach kids the basics of mixing hues. 3 to 5 years, $16

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Spinning Shades

Peter Ardito

Spinning Shades

With this neat wheel kids can see how mixing two colors makes a new hue. 4 years+, Colorsaurus Color Wheel, $5; painting-crafts.com

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Through the Glass

Peter Ardito

Through the Glass

Light looks white but it's actually made up of the seven colors of the rainbow. Hold a prism up to the light and let your child watch the color "bend." Glass prism, $6; homesciencetools.com

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Twist and Turn

Peter Ardito

Twist and Turn

Preschoolers can explore the color spectrum by turning brightly colored, inter-connected wooden balls into endless configurations. 3 years+, Playable Art Ball, $30; momastore.org

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App To It

Courtesy of Montessorium

App To It

Learn about colors digitally with Intro to Colors by Montessorium, a terrific app inspired by the lessons of Montessori. 5 years and under, $5; itunes.com

Originally published in the January 2015 issue of Parents magazine.