One of the best things about being a mom is watching your littles learn new things. It is so fun to see their curiosity about the world and how fascinated they become with things I take for granted. For us this summer, it has been colors. Leo has really enjoyed learning his colors this year and LOVES to point them out wherever he finds them. He gets so excited when he discovers a flower that is yellow. Or a sign that is yellow. Or a car that is yellow. Can you tell his favorite color is yellow? Actually, it's yellow AND blue and he tells me this about every day. So you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled upon this gem at the library one day:
Little Blue and Little Yellow
Written and Illustrated by Leo Lionni
The story is not life-changing. It's not really all that interesting, to be honest. But I still really like this book. My two-year-old loves it. It's been a bedtime staple since we brought it home from the library. It is all about his two favorite colors and he loves pointing out where they turn into green. I really enjoy the illustrations because they are very different from most cartoony illustrations these days. It looks like Lionni created each page by tearing shapes from construction paper. A school is made from a black rectangle with nine rough circles sitting in three rows. The pictures are crude and simplistic but I find them imaginative. And it turns out, this is just how it was created. Lionni liked to draw pictures as he told stories to his grandchildren. One time, on a long train ride, he had no drawing materials and, instead, tore out small blue and yellow circles from a magazine to tell his story. Little Blue and Little Yellow (his first book for children) was born from this experience (source). It's a cute little story and it's helped my son start learning that mixing two colors creates a new color. Ever since we read it that first night, I've been dying to do a mixing colors activity with him.
Mixing Colors: After reading this story, my toddler can tell me that blue and yellow make green; a fun extension is to provide an opportunity for him to show that they make green. You can use lots of different materials for mixing colors. Here are a few of my favorites (check out the linked blogs for a more detailed description of each activity):
- Playdough: This is a kid favorite because the possibilities are endless. Use store-bought or whip up your own, dye it the three primary colors, and let your kid explore. I'd actually start with only blue and yellow so they have a chance to figure out those two colors. Save the others for another day and a new experiment (otherwise it'll all turn into one brown mess pretty quick).
- Translucent Plastic File Folders: Cut blue, yellow, and red plastic file folders into strips. Because they are translucent, you can lay them on top of each other to see what they become when they "hug." Older kids will have fun creating patterns and pictures. Tape them to the window for extra fun.
- Shaving Cream: Dollar store cream makes for a cheap and easy activity with a fun texture. Dye with food coloring, use ice cube trays or cupcake trays to separate colors, and let the kids mix, play, and explore as they please. * If your kids are anything like mine, this is a great activity to do outdoors or in the tub!
- Paint: I love this blogger's advice on mixing paint. Starting with just two colors is complex enough for toddlers. Let them explore and figure out how mixing works and that different amounts of each color produce different shades. She shares some great tips for different ages that I plan to use in the coming years. Alternatively, use watercolors as a medium for mixing blue and yellow. Draw a simple Venn Diagram with a sharpie and help your child recreate the book's cover by making green.
We chose to start with shaving cream. In an effort to enjoy the last of summer, we did this activity outside. It was so much fun. My toddler loved mixing the colors together and got SO excited when he was able to make green. Using only blue and yellow kept the activity simple and made sure he was successful. Next time, we'll try mixing red and yellow to help him discover how to make orange. I love that the lessons can build on each other.
That was his special "I made green!" dance. He was so proud. Though my one-year-old is too young to really get it, she still had fun squishing the shaving cream... and then rubbing it all over her hair.
The next book is one that I heard about a few years ago from my nephew who absolutely loved it. I remembered it one day while we were at the library and brought it home hoping Leo would enjoy it as much as his cousin used to. Since then, he insisted we read it at every nap time and every bedtime for over a month. It was an instant fave and we are still reading it at least once a day:
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Written by Eric Litwin
Illustrated by James Dean
his song so you can sing it the right way!). Unfortunately, while Pete is walking through town, he keeps stepping in things and it changes the color of his shoes. But "does Pete cry? Goodness, no!" He just keeps on walking and changes his song to match the new color of his shoes.
The book has a great rhythm and enough repetition that my toddler could start helping me "read" the story after only a few reads. He loves to shout out the new colors and sing Pete's song with me. He has been a bit reluctant to try new words, but since we've started reading Pete, he has started saying red, mud, and wet. I love that he's learning new words and I actually enjoy reading this story with him despite having read it a hundred times. The illustrations are bright and interesting and the story has a great message, too. Here's one of our new favorite games.
Pete's Color Game: In the story, Pete steps in a variety of things that change the color of his shoes. The pattern in the same throughout the book so it is familiar to my son. Sometimes I'll make up a verse for him to figure out. Example: "Oh no! Pete stepped in a pile of bananas! What color did it turn his shoes?" I usually use items around us so I can hold it up for him. He answers, "Yellow!" We'll finish the pattern and then sing Pete's song together. "I love my yellow shoes!"
This works great with my toddler. He has fun with the variety of colors and I enjoy trying to find new items for Pete to step in. If your kids are older, let them come up with something for Pete to step in. This is especially fun while out on a walk or in the grocery store where there are lots of things to look at.
James Dean has come out with several other Pete the Cat books and I'm dying to get the one about his four groovy buttons (all about numbers) to read with my little guy. Go check them out with me!
Do you have any favorite books about colors? What are your little ones learning about lately and what big things (and little things) are they discovering? Whatever it is, go find a few new books to encourage it and enjoy it with them!