Looking for simple home learning activities for your toddler ages 1-4? This pom pom color sorting activity is probably one of my favorite DIY fine motor activities, and it’s also Montessori-aligned if that’s important in your home.
It takes about 60 seconds to set up, and you may already have everything you need in your home!
All you need are colored pom poms, kid-friendly tweezers, and some kind of tray with multiple compartments (or bowls).
Color Sorting Activity Benefits
Sorting like objects is an incredible activity for toddlers. It helps with memory and thinking skills as well as visual perception skills. When you work with your child to name and identify colors, you’re also helping to build their vocabulary.
I love adding in the tweezer component to this activity, because maneuvering them is excellent for fine motor practice and working on the pincer grasp.
Pom Pom Color Sorting Activity Milestones By Age
This activity is ideal for ages 1-4, and you can help your child master different skills at each stage:
- 15-19 months: your child will start to learn how to match like objects. This is the ideal age to introduce some color sorting activities – you’ll be surprised when they put the green pom pom next to another one!
- Around 18 months: children may start to recognize different colors, even though they don’t know the words associated with them. The ability to recognize different colors will continue to develop through age two.
- 22-24 months: this is an ideal time to focus on helping your child master the pincer grasp. This fine motor development is critical for grasping a pencil down the line. Transferring objects is a classic Montessori activity, and using tweezers in this pom pom activity is a great way to practice.
- By 36 months: at this point, children should know at least one color. Your child may know many more, but this is a good baseline to judge if your child is on track developmentally.
- By 48 months: the CDC recommends that by age 4, a child should know multiple colors.
Another learning component of this activity is counting! That’s right – you can practice early math skills while you sort the pom poms with your toddler. Count each pom pom as you add it to the tray.
Also, try using descriptive words, like more and less: “Does this section have more pom poms than that one?”
You can also start practicing addition with prompts like, “Here is one pom pom. If I add two more, how many pom poms are there?”
Very simple addition and subtraction concepts can be introduced around ages 3-4, but don’t pressure yourself or your child. Children don’t need to do basic addition and subtraction until first and second grade (Understood.org).
Tips for Speaking About Colors
I recently learned about a Stanford study where psychologists worked with children on color words. Their finding? Saying “the ball is red” is more effective than saying “the red ball.”
The English language is different than many other languages in that we typically put colors before the object we’re describing: red ball, brown horse, blue plate.
But to toddlers, this can be really confusing! They have a hard time separating the color word from the noun its describing. When you say “look at that red ball,” your toddler will likely figure that the object is called a red ball – not that the ball is the color red.
By adjusting the way we speak about colors, we can help our children learn this concept must faster. In fact, when the psychologists in that Stanford study changed their word order (the ball is red instead of the red ball), the toddlers’ ability to correctly identify colors improved significantly.
I wanted to share this tip to help you maximize your time with this color sorting activity! I definitely don’t remember to do this all the time, but every once in a while, I catch it and adjust how I talk about colors to make it clearer for my kiddos.
DIY Pom Pom Color Sorting Supplies
To set up your DIY pom pom color sorting activity, you will need:
- Colored pom poms (we got this huge bag from Amazon)
- Kid-friendly tweezers (these jumbo tweezers from Amazon are great and are what we used in this activity)
- A multi-compartment tray (or bowls)
We had a wooden tray from a Melissa & Doug lacing cards set, and I decided to repurpose it for this DIY activity. But really, anything you have around the house will work. Grab some bowls or you can even make your own multi-compartment tray with cardboard.
Setting Up DIY Pom Pom Color Sorting
Set-up could not be easier. Get different colored pom poms – one color for each compartment you have – and give the tray and tweezers to your child.
You can let them experiment first, or you can do what I did, which is put one color in each square. Then, I modeled to my kids how to put matching colors together. They took it from there and had so much fun sorting the colors and maneuvering the tweezers.
I love making printables for my kids, but this activity is SO easy to set up. No printing, laminating, or cutting is required. Just grab your supplies, set them out, and watch your kids have a blast!
You don’t have to spend a fortune to have great educational activities at home. Montessori activities and toys can get very pricey, but this one will only cost you a few dollars, and you may even have everything you need at home already.
If you do this pom pom activity, please tag me on Instagram! It would seriously make my day!! My handle is @thetwomamabears. Happy sorting!