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By Brenda Williams

Exploring and experimenting with colours is an essential part of the Early Years Curriculum – Expressive Arts and Design. Bright colours are particularly attractive to our youngest children but as their experiences grow, they will begin to notice and delight in other shades. Their knowledge of the environment is enriched by the observation and discussion of the colours of the natural world, and their first expressions of creativity are usually with colour, from scribbling with wax crayons, to mixing colours, observing changes and designing patterns.



  1. The poem I Spy
  2. Matching colours
  3. Identifying colour words
  4. Patchwork
  5. Patterns and designs
  6. Beautiful butterflies
  7. A rainbow of shades
  8. Camouflage colours

The poem I Spy

'I Spy' poem

One of our first games with children is ‘I Spy With My Little Eye’, a favourite for helping children to identify the initial sounds of words. Here the poem is adapted to encourage children to identify colours and also to name and describe objects.

  • Collect together some of the articles mentioned for each verse. Where the object is not mentioned, use something appropriate such as an apple for ‘red and shiny’, a button for ‘green and tiny’, and place a purple sock or umbrella on a wall where children can see it. Look at a cloud outside for ‘grey and white’.
  • Read the poem through, encouraging children to join in and point to each item. When you reach the final verse, if you are not lucky enough to have a real rainbow, look at some of the lovely images of rainbows available on the internet.

  • Name the seven colours of a rainbow, which are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Talk about how the colours are arranged.
  • Create a rainbow together as a wall display, or engage children in individual paintings. Talk about each colour and show children how to mix colours to make the ones they need, such as blue and yellow to make green; red and blue to make purple/violet; and yellow and red to make orange.
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