First Color Sorting Activity For Toddlers

Learning colors seems to be one of the most important milestones.

So here are a few tips from first-hand experience that will help teach colors to toddlers.

You’re probably already naming a gazillion times colors of the world around you. It all starts simply and naturally just by pointing to a toy, a piece of clothing, a fruit or a vegetable naming its color.

Colors are everywhere. Kids absolutely love them. But learning colors for little ones is not the easiest task.

Think how confusing yellow and orange, red and orange and even blue and green can be for 1 year olds.

At about 18 months old it’s a perfect time to introduce color learning activities.

Kids learn best when all of their senses are involved, when they can touch, see and hear.

I initially set this simple color sorting sensory bin up for my 16 month old to learn colors.

What I love about it is that I can add an extra sensory experience without changing the set up.

And you can even go easy on the sorting activity itself and simple follow your child if they want just to play with this sensory bin in their own way.

I’ll explain more in just a bit.

First Color Sorting Sensory Bin

Ikea Flisat table with color sorting activity

Set Up:  2 min 

Use: 1 time use

Age: 12 month + 


  • Pit Balls of 2 different colors, equal amount of each color. We used 7 red and 7 blue. Choose primary colors that are not very much alike. For example: red and blue, yellow and blue, red and green.
  • Food Coloring (red and blue accordingly as I used red and blue pit balls)
  • 3-4 plastic containers. We used IKEA Flisat table so we needed just 3 but you can also use a large 4th container to contain all other containers and the mess that comes with this sensory bin 🙂
  • Big plastic spoon. You can also use a sieve which might even work better (= less spills).

How To Make First Color Sorting Sensory Bin

  • Fill 2 plastic containers with a little bit of water (add more water if desired).
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to each until desired color intensity.
  • Place pit balls and spoon (sieve) in a empty container.
  • Model to your little one what he/she’s expected to do. 
  • Let them try.

At out first attempt at 15 months all the pit balls ended up in the “red” container 😂 And I just let him play the way he wanted 😊

Variations To First Color Sensory Bin

  • Add slightly hot water to the red colored water and cold water to the blue colored water. This will add an extra sensory experience and will allow you to talk not only about colors but also about hot and cold temperatures.
  • You can do this activity multiple times, swapping the colors you use.
  • Add more containers with more colors and pit balls when your little one has mastered two color sorting.
  • Instead of pit balls you can use mega blocks, duplo or other water-resistant single color toys.
  • If you’d like to contain the mess a little bit, instead of water add colored jelly. You’ll need to prepare it at least 4-6 hours in advance or overnight.

Check out the recipe: How To Make Jelly For Play

Tips For Making The Best Out Of This Activity

  • Add as much water to each container as you’re willing to clean.
  • Use a big towel or outside space to set up the activity on.
  • Model the expected “play” first, moving slowly and explaining what you do and then guide them through the process as they try doing it on their own.
  • Also remind them to keep water in the container by saying something like “water stays in the bin” to minimize spills (who are we kidding? LOL)
  • If your little one is not interested in color sorting, let it be 😊
    Just let them play their own way. Some kids learn colors early some kids learn them later. Just keep all the work/teaching that you already do in the background, offer a different type of sorting activity and/or do it again in a few days or weeks.

Happy Playing!

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