Rollin’ with My Colors

Julia is a smart cookie.  But the brightest crayon in the box?  Not yet.  This daughter of ours who nailed her shapes before 18 months has yet to sort out her colors.  It both drives me crazy and cracks me up – while her little friend Rowan is sweetly naming the colors of the floor mat in the toddler room at church (red, boo, lellow, geen!), my kid knows orange. And brown. She knows those two really well, but that’s it.  At least she’s all set to be a fall-loving gal just like her Momma!

I’ve been working for a while on her colors, and although being a teacher has given me a variety of ideas on activities I can do with her, she gets tired of them very quickly.  You can never play the same game twice with this child.  So I went on the hunt for more ways I could inject color lessons into her daily play, and one of my favorite ideas was this one.  I loved the simplicity of it, and I already had all the materials at home!

Here’s what I used:

  • 7 toilet paper rolls (I was too impatient and cut a paper towel roll in half)
  • scrapbook paper (I found smaller prints were more interesting)
  • glue
  • rubber bands


First I cut all of the rolls to the same size.  Then I laid each roll at the edge of a piece of scrapbook paper and smeared glue all down the paper.


Then I rolled it along with the paper.


Once I had the toilet paper roll wrapped, I placed two rubber bands on it – one near the top of the toilet paper roll and one near the bottom of the roll.  This would keep the paper from un-rolling itself off of the roll while the glue dried.


Once the rolls were dry I removed the rubber bands and trimmed the paper.


Now it was time to test the merchandise.  Julia had already been eyeing the newly decorated cylinders, and I could tell she was eager to get her hands on them.  Actually, she did get her hands on them, but I managed to save their little papered behinds. Once they were dry though, it was time for the fun!

I had bought a bunch of bright colored pipe cleaners, and after I showed her what to do she was off!  The only thing I was allowed to do was name the colors for her. She would ask the color, and I would not-so-patiently name it for her.  Over and over. Except for orange.  Orange always goes like this: “Wha culah dis? – ORANGE!”



As I said, no activity lasts for long with her without being altered in some way, so I was ready with a strainer for when she got tired of the tubes.


Fast-forward a week, and the toilet paper rolls are still in use!  We keep finding new ways to use them.  Today it was filling them with little plastic counting bears.  We pretended we were putting them to sleep in their “caves.”  Ignore her hair here, please.


I’m planning to use this idea for a while.  I can see many different ways to expand on this simple project:

  • Add the color names later to start sight word recognition
  • Put numbers on the tubes and put that many items in the tube
  • Put the tubes in number order
  • Sorting treats (like Skittles) before eating them – could be fun at Halloween!
  • Put the letters of her name on each tube and have her spell out her name with them
  • Put pictures of different coins on them and use them to sort money

The possibilities are endless!  But only once she learns her colors…


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