Color in wonderful stuff! See below for dozens of books, color science and math, color poetry, color projects, and more. Take the Stroop Test, learn about a lot of cross crayons, and find out why pink wasn’t always for girls.

Color for Beginners

ROY G BIV is the kicky little mnemonic that helps us remember, in order, the colors of the visible spectrum: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. According to most public-school curricula, kids should be able to name and identify the colors by the time they get out of kindergarten (both primary and secondary colors, plus brown, black, white, and gray) and there are hundreds – literally, hundreds – of books do help them do so.

 imgres By Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver, Babylit’s Alice in Wonderland (Gibbs Smith, 2014) is a “colors primer” with a Wonderland theme, featuring a white rabbit, a blue caterpillar, a yellow teapot, and a lot of red hearts. For ages 1-4.
 imgres-1 Lois Ehlert’s visually appealing Color Farm (HarperCollins, 1990) and Color Zoo (HarperCollins, 1989) pack a triple whammy, combining animals, colors, and geometric shapes. Kids discover lions, tigers, monkeys, pigs, cows, and chickens, variously pieced together from blue circles, orange squares, red triangles, and the like. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-2 Bill Martin’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Henry Holt, 1992) – a wonderful rhyming classic – is a picture-book tour of brilliantly colored paper-collage animals, including, along with the title’s brown bear, a blue horse, green frog, purple cat, and bright-yellow duck. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-3 Tana Hoban, known for her award-winning wordless picture books illustrated with full-page photographs, has published several with color themes, among them Of Colors and Things (Greenwillow, 1996), Is It Red? Is It Yellow? Is It Blue?: An Adventure in Color (William Morrow, 1987), and Colors Everywhere (Greenwillow, 1995). This last – a collection of glowing scenes of striped umbrellas, flower gardens, autumn leaves, and birds – includes bar graphs on each page showing the proportions of the different colors present in the photographs. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-4 Bruce McMillan’s Growing Colors (Mulberry Books, 1994) is set in the garden, where readers find colors in luscious photographs of green peas, yellow corn, purple beans, and red raspberries. For ages 2-6.
For many more resources on this topic, see GARDENING.
 imgres-5 In Patricia Hubbard’s My Crayons Talk (Henry Holt, 1999), a little girl discovers colors through a very vocal box of talking crayons (Brown shouts “Play! Mudpie day!”). For ages 3-7.
 imgres-6 Anita Lobel’s One Lighthouse, One Moon (Greenwillow, 2002) is an enchanting multifaceted introduction to colors, numbers (1-10), the days of the week, the seasons, and the months of the year. Colors are paired with the days of the week, as a little girl dons different-colored footgear for each day’s activity: green gardening clogs, red cowboy boots, yellow beach sandals, pink ballet slippers. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-7 In Peter Reynolds’s Sky Color (Candlewick, 2013), art-loving Marisol is thrilled to be making a mural for the library – but there’s no blue paint. How to make a sky with no blue paint? Then she realizes that there’s far more to the sky than blue: there are all the colors of sunrises, sunsets, and swirling stars. For ages 4-8.
 image In Drew Daywalt’s hilarious The Day the Crayons Quit (Philomel Books, 2013), when Duncan opens his box of crayons he finds nothing but disgruntled letters. Beige feels underappreciated (everybody likes Brown better); Black is sick of being used for nothing but outlining; Blue is exhausted from constantly coloring huge expanses of sky and sea. Orange and Yellow are fighting over the color of the sun; and Peach, whose wrapper has been torn off, is naked and in hiding. Duncan comes up with an artistic solution that makes everybody happy. For ages 4-8.
 image-1 The Day the Crayons Quit is a color-illustrated Reading Is Fundamental guide for parents and educators with extension suggestions, multidisciplinary activities, a vocabulary list, and technology links.
 imgres-8 From Perfectly Preschool, Colors has a long list of color-based activities and book suggestions for young kids. For example, try making coffee-filter butterflies, shaving-cream colors, and paper rainbows.

More About Color

 imgres-9 Joann Eckstut’s The Secret Language of Color (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2013) is a lushly illustrated history and science of color. Readers learn – among much else – why grass is green and flamingos are pink, where yellow journalism comes from, and why doctors wear green scrubs. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-10 Victoria Finlay’s Color: A Natural History of the Palette (Random House, 2007) is a fascinating exploration of pigments worldwide, filled with intriguing info. Learn all about logwood, saffron, indigo, and lapis lazuli. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-11 Alexander Theroux’s The Primary Colors and The Secondary Colors (Henry Holt, 1996) are two essay collections, both fascinating compilations of everything (everything!) having to do with red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, or green. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-12 From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, see Color for philosophers. Color is a lot more complicated than you might think.
 imgres-13 Color Matters is a website devoted to all aspects of color, including color symbolism, color psychology, color vision, and the science of color, plus lists of color resources. For younger visitors, there’s a kids’ page and fun color facts.
 imgres-14 From the Tech Museum, Make a Splash with Color covers a wide range of color topics, including color science, color vision, hue, brightness, and saturation, and more.
 imgres-15 Color Theory for Art and Design covers Color as Symbol, Color as Light, Color as Emotion, and Color Terms, and ends up with a Color Quiz.

 Color and History

 imgres-16 Think you know the stories behind the most iconic colors around the world? Tackle the Colors of History Quiz. Five categories: Landmarks, Geography, Science, Pop Culture, and Sports.
 imgres-17 Pigments Through the Ages has illustrated histories of purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, white, brown, and black. Under Red, for example, readers learn that in China, the Phoenix was called the Vermilion Bird, that Neolithic hunters buried their dead with red ochre, and that the red rose is dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
 imgres-18 From Pantone, check out this 50 Years of Color History infographic (and see a list of award-winning Colors of the Year). (2013: Emerald.)
 imgres-19 A Graphic History of the Color Pink claims that no other color in modern history has had such an impact on masculinity, femininity, and politics.
 imgres-19 Pink is for girls? Really? Read all about it at When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? from Smithsonian magazine.
 images-4 From Filmaker IQ, see The History and Science of Color Film from Isaac Newton to the Coen Brothers. Lots of illustrations and video clips.

 Color Mixing to Color Theory

 imgres-21 In Alan Baker’s White Rabbit’s Color Book (Kingfisher, 1999), White Rabbit plunges into pots of primary-colored paint. Readers learn about colors, color-mixing, shapes, letters, and numbers. For ages 2-5.
 images-1 Color mixing – in a messy but artistic sense – is the theme of Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Mouse Paint (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1995), in which a trio of plump white mice come upon three jars of paint (red, blue, and yellow) and discover – with a lot of splashing about – how to combine them to make green, orange, and purple. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-23 Ann Jonas’s Color Dance (Mulberry Books, 1999) explains color-mixing through dance, as three children in leotards twirl and whirl with billowing red, blue, and yellow scarves. For ages 3-7.
 images While the best introduction to color-mixing is almost certainly to plop down some protective newspaper and a few pots of paint and let the kids experiment (“Look, Mom! I made brown!”), there are many resources available for expanding upon this activity.
 littlegreen2 The KinderArt website has a large selection of great art lesson plans for kids in preschool through grade 12, many with color themes. For example, see “Blotter Bugs” (a color-mixing activity) and “Neutral Colors” (learn all about black, brown, gray, and white).
 imgres-24 Color Changing Milk is a simple (and fun) experiment in which kids explore color-mixing with food coloring, milk, and soap.
 imgres-25 From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Learn About Color online by mixing red, yellow, and blue to change the color of William, the museum’s famous little hippopotamus.
green From the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, learn all about and experiment with Color Mixing.
 imgres-26 For older kids and teens, the online art school WetCanvas offers (free) detailed lessons on a wide range of art topics and techniques. Included is a 16-lesson series on Color Theory and Mixing. (To start, you’ll need paper and a box of colored pencils.) Sample lesson titles include “A Wheel of Color,” “The History of Color,” and “Color Perspective.”
 imgres-27 Learn color theory with The Interactive Color Wheel.
 imgres-28 Learn all about the history of The Wonderful Color Wheel with terrific period illustrations.

Color and Art

 41JD1KJ2XWL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ The Art of Colors: For Children and Adults (Margaret Steele; Fotofolio, 1999) combines color and art history: kids are introduced to color through twelve different modern art works – for example, purple in an Andy Warhol silkscreen, black in a Louise Nevelson sculpture, red in an oil by Mark Rothko. The book also has a multicultural flair: names of the colors are given in English, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-29 Philip Ball’s Bright Earth (University of Chicago Press, 2003) is a detailed history and science of colors in painting. For older teenagers and adults.
 2012-10-11 01.24.01 This Primary Colors Lesson Plan for preschoolers and early-elementary kids is a colorful art project based on the work of artist Piet Mondrian.
 color-scramble From Dick Blick, Color Scramble is a project in which kids made geometric color pictures based on the work of Frank Stella, using colored masking tape.
 P.-Signac,-Woman-with-an-Um Color Vision & Art covers how color is used by artists, with detailed background information and many illustrations and examples of artworks.

Seeing in Color

 images-2 From Neuroscience for Kids, Color Vision has background information, illustrations, resources, and experiment suggestions for a range of ages.
 images-3 From Webvision, Color Vision is a detailed scientific explanation of how color vision works. Pair this one with high-school biology class.
 imgres-20 The Joy of Visual Perception is an online book on the eye, with many sections related to color and color vision. For example, check out the pages on Newton’s prism, color mixing, color blindness, and rainbows.
 imgres-30 From How Stuff Works, How Vision Works includes illustrated information on color vision and color blindness.
 imgres-32 Color Match is an online version of the Stroop Test, in which players match color meanings with differently colored words. A simple but surprising test on how the brain processes color. Try it!
Read more about the Stroop Test here and try an interactive online experiment.
 imgres-30 Do you think you might be colorblind? Take the Ishihara Color Vision test online.

Color and Feelings

 imgres-33 Dr. Seuss’s My Many Colored Days (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1998) is a rhyming association of colors with feelings: on a yellow day, the narrator is “a busy, buzzy bee,” on a green day, a “cool and quiet fish,” on a black day, a howling wolf. For ages 3-7.
From the Book Nook, My Many Colored Days has discussion questions and activities to accompany the book. For example, kids make color spinners and color puppets, go on a color hunt, and make color-dyed hardboiled eggs with emotional facial expressions.
 images-5 Arnold Lobel’s The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments (HarperCollins, 1994) is a wonderful picture book on the emotional impact of color, as a wizard, inventing colors, turns a little town blue (which makes everybody sad), yellow (which gives everyone headaches), and red (which makes everyone angry), until finally coming up with the best solution: to use all the colors at once. It’s out of print, but worth tracking down. Check your library. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-34 Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006) is a story about learning to know and value oneself, told from the point of view of a chubby little chameleon who doesn’t want to change color. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-35 Also by Lionni, Little Blue and Little Yellow (HarperCollins, 1995) is a story about friendship (the colors ultimately blend to form a beautiful green). For ages 4-8.
 imgres-36 In Drew Daywait’s The Day the Crayons Quit (Philomel, 2013), the colors have had it: Red is sick of coloring Santa Clauses and Valentine hearts; Blue is tired of oceans; White is just plain depressed, not being used for anything; and Yellow and Orange both claim to be the rightful color of the sun. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-27 From The Great Courses, How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals is a six-lecture course on the meaning and psychology of color by Professor William Lidwell of the University of Houston. Officially the course costs about $100 (downloadable or on DVD), but watch the website – periodic sales offer the courses at a fraction of the listed costs.

Color and Poetry

 There are many entrancing color poems – everything from Walter de la Mare’s magical Silver to Gelett Burgess’s foolish The Purple Cow. Check out some of these:

 imgres-37 Mary O’Neill’s Hailstones and Halibut Bones (Doubleday, 1990) is a great resource for potential color-poets: a wonderful illustrated collection of poems about every color of the rainbow (and then some). (“The purple feeling/Is rather put-out./The purple look is a/Definite pout./But the purple sound/Is the loveliest thing./It’s a violet opening/In the spring.”) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-38 Joyce Sidman’s Red Sings From Treetops (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) is an enchantingly illustrated collection of color poems throughout the seasons. (“Yellow slips goldfinches/their spring jackets.”) For ages 4-8.
For many more resources on the seasons, see WHAT HAPPENS WHEN: STUDYING THE SEASONS.
 imgres-39 Malathi Michelle Iyengar’s Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown (Children’s Book Press, 2009) is a collection of fifteen poems about the many shades of brown, from tan and beige to honey, cinnamon, and topaz. Illustrations show kids in a wide variety of skin colors. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-40 Sheila Hamanaka’s All the Colors of the Earth (Mulberry Books, 1999) is a celebration of all the different colors of children everywhere: the brown of “roaring bears,” the “tinkling pinks of tiny seashells,” “amber and ivory and ginger.” For ages 4-8.
 imgres-41 Jane Yolen’s Color Me a Rhyme (Wordsong, 2003) is a photo-illustrated collection of nature poems for kids. Each page includes a long list of synonyms for the featured color, printed in color, and a color quotation. For ages 8-12.
 images-6 Christina Rosetti’s poem Color begins “What is pink? A rose is pink/By a fountain’s brink” – and ends “What is orange? Why, an orange/Just an orange!”
 imgres-42 Marge Piercy’s Color Passing Through Us is a wonderful collection of color images: “Purple as tulips in May,” “Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,” “Green as mint jelly.”
 imgres-43 Color from Emily Dickinson: Nature rarer uses yellow.
 imgres-44 What color are vowels? See Vowels by French poet Arthur Rimbaud.
 color poems Susan Gaylord’s Color Poems has suggestions for making color poetry books using torn tissue paper or collage materials.
For many more poetry resources for all ages, see POETRY I and POETRY II.

Color and Science

 images-8 Nature’s Paintbrush by Susan Stockdale (Simon & Schuster, 1999) is an appealing picture-book explanation of color and pattern in nature. Kids discover the reasons for the tiger’s orange and black stripes, the toucan’s gaudy beak, and poison-dart frog’s brilliant spots.  For ages 3-8.
 imgres-49 Pat Murphy and Paul Doherty’s The Color of Nature (Chronicle Books, 1996) expands upon this theme for older readers: the book is a 150-page assemblage of fascinating information about color, illustrated with photographs. Readers learn why flamingos are pink, why grass is green, why wildflowers are brightly colored, and how to tell the age of a desert from the color of its sand. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-47 From National Geographic, Life in Color is a series of photo galleries devoted to color in nature. Wonderful pictures, categorized by featured color.
 imgres-48 Gary Gibson’s Light and Color (Copper Beech Books, 1995) includes an assortment of color-related hands-on projects and experiments – among them mixing colors and splitting white light into the colors of the spectrum. For ages 7 and up.
 imgres-27 The San Francisco Exploratorium’s Colorfest has background information on the science of color, along with many colorful videos, demonstrations, projects, and interactive activities.
 images-7 Learn about Color and Dye Chemistry while making a tie-dyed T-shirt. (You’ll need to buy materials and T-shirt.)
See this Jacquard Tie Dye Kit, which has enough materials for making up to fifteen tie-dyed shirts. (About $20 from Amazon.)
 dye_225.jpg__225x1000_q85 In Color Burst, kids use paper chromatography to separate dyes into their individual components. (Find out what’s in green.)
 images-4 From Vimeo, The History and Science of Color Temperature is a series of short videos (plus a quiz). Learn about color and temperature using examples of everything from Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” to the Coen Brothers’ “Fargo.”
 images-9 From Science Buddies, kids using the Rainbow Fire kit can explore flame photometry and learn how astronomers, using color, determine the atomic composition of distant stars. This is incredibly cool, but involves chemicals and matches and requires adult supervision.
 imgres-50 From Annenberg Learner, The Science of Light has background information, simulations, and activities about “Light in Color” and “The Laws of Light.” For example, kids explore colored shadows and stellar spectra, and find out how illustrations are often made from colored dots.
 imgres-51 From the Sciences Education Foundation, Chromatics: The Science of Color is a downloadable 100+-page unit covering such topics as “Surfing the Electromagnetic Spectrum,” “Fireworks and Flame Photometry,” “Why Plants are Green,” and “Chemiluminescence.”
See many more great chemistry resources at CHEMISTRY.


 imgres-52 Ul de Rico’s gorgeously illustrated The Rainbow Goblins (Thames & Hudson, 1978) is the wonderful tale of seven goblins (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet) who spend their time lassoing rainbows and eating all the colors. There’s a happy ending for the rainbow, but the story explains why now the rainbow never touches the earth. For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-53 E.C. Krupp’s The Rainbow and You (HarperCollins, 2000) – narrated by Roy G. Biv himself, wearing spiffy rainbow-striped socks – explains the science, history, and lore of the rainbow, plus shows kids how to make a rainbow of their own with the garden hose. For ages 6-12.
 images-10 From NASA, What Causes a Rainbow? is an illustrated explanation targeted at kids.
 images-10 From PBS, The Science of Rainbows is a friendly account on YouTube.
 images-10 Learn about How Rainbows Work from How Stuff Works, and view a rainbow image gallery.
 images-10 Science of Rainbows for Kids covers the colors of the rainbow, why rainbows are arc-shaped, primary and secondary rainbows, and more, with photos and animations.
 imgres-54 Make Your Own Rainbow with a glass of water. (And a sunny day.)
 imgres-55 How to Make a Rainbow in a Glass is a gorgeous experiment in which kids learn about density. Also see Steve Spangler’s impressive Seven Layer Density Column.

Color Math

 imgres-3 Tana Hoban’s Colors Everywhere (Greenwillow, 1995) – a collection of glowing color photos of everything from striped umbrellas to gaudy birds – includes bar graphs on each page showing the proportions of the different colors present. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-56 Barbara Barbieri McGrath’s Teddy Bear Counting (Charlesbridge, 2010) and Teddy Bear Patterns (Charlesbridge, 2013) both use brightly colored teddy bears to teach colors, counting, shapes, sequencing, skip counting, and more. For ages 3-7.
 images-11 Pair these with hands-on counting bears. A collection of 50 in five different colors costs about $8 from Amazon.
 imgres-57 In The Crayon Counting Book by Pam Munoz Ryan and Jerry Pallotta (Charlesbridge, 1996), kids not only learn to count to 24 by 2’s, but discover a whole new world of bizarre colors, among them iguana, purple hairstreak, and emerald boa. (Go on. Invent color names of your own.) For ages 3-8.
 imgres-58 Color-minded mathematicians might enjoy investigating the famous “Four-Color Map Problem,” a mathematical mind-boggler that states that four colors – just four – are enough to color any map such that no two regions with a common border will be colored with the same color. (Don’t believe it? Get a ready-to-be-colored outline map and try it.)
Kids can explore the map problem at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s This is Mega-Mathematics! Click on The Most Colorful Math of All for an illustrated explanation of the four-color theorem, plus related activities and projects.
 new_york From Mappa Mundi, The Four-Color Map Problem is a short illustrated history.
 images-12 From Coolmath, see this list of online Shape and Color Games.
 imgres-59 Hexadecimal numbers are used on web pages to set colors. Experiment with Hexadecimal Colors (there are 16 million of them) here.




This entry was posted in Art, Early Childhood/Preschool, Science and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>