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!
When children have mastered basic color concepts, they are ready to learn the subtleties of shades. A few ways to play:
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
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
Sweet, colorful rainbow cookies make a delightful, ROY-G-BIV-approved treat!
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
This bundle of books provides a rainbow of vibrant words and stories.
"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
This board book's unique format (scooped-out and raised cutouts) offers a touch-and-feel tome. 3 years+, $15
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
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
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
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
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
With this neat wheel kids can see how mixing two colors makes a new hue. 4 years+, Colorsaurus Color Wheel, $5; painting-crafts.com
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
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
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.