Updated: May 1, 2022
As a new ESL teacher, everything can seem overwhelming at first, even seemingly simple things like teaching the color red. But, never be stuck again with these 3 brilliant ways to teach colors in English class.
After reading about these 3 brilliant ways to teach colors in English, use the Mooncake English lesson planner to help structure your lessons in a fun and engaging way. Click here to download your free lesson planner (and lots of other freebies), no tricks or gimmicks, just one ESL teacher helping out another.
Why Learn Colours in English?
Teaching colors is a great place to start teaching beginner English learners. Right away, your students will be able to use color vocabulary to begin describing the things around them, helping to build confidence and laying a foundation for scaffolding language later on.
Colour games for toddlers can be especially beneficial because not only does it help them start communicating in English, but it also helps them sort and classify the world around them. We do this ourselves every day. But although naming colours is a simple task for us grown-ups, it's a pretty cognitively complex task for our young learners!
I've been teaching young learners for ten years now, but I had no idea how to capture students' attention when I first started. I often fell into the trap of showing flashcards and asking the class to repeat the words after me (this is a quick way to lose your students' attention). Instead, I quickly learned that to keep students' attention and help them remember the vocabulary, I needed to use chants and TPR with every new word I introduced. Try this in your class, add an action for the word you're teaching, and repeat it in chant three or four times. I guarantee you will see improvement in your students' ability to remember!
After introducing the new vocabulary, use kindergarten color games to use key vocabulary in relatable contexts, helping to keep your students' attention and, more importantly, helping them remember the new language. So if teaching colors to kindergarten students, try using these 3 brilliant colour games.
1. Magic Bottles
Magic color bottles are super fun and grab your students' attention right away. It's also a great way to teach additional language in your lesson.
What will you need?
Clear water bottles with a lid
A variety of colored paint
Print, laminate, and cut out your color monster flashcards
Fill your water bottles with water
Take a small amount of paint and place it on the inside of your water bottle lid
Carefully screw the lid onto the water bottle
To get started, introduce your color monsters using chant and TPR as you do. If students are very young (2-3-year-olds) and learning colors for the first time, I suggest only introducing 2-3 colors. If your students are slightly older (4+ years), you may want to introduce 4-5 colors in one lesson. Place the color monsters on the floor in front of you for all students to see.
Explain to the class that the color monsters are very thirsty and that they want to drink some color monster water.
Introduce the water bottles by placing them down on the floor, counting as you do (a great way to practice numbers). Explain that, uh-oh, we don't know which water bottle belongs to which monster!
Explain to the class that we all need to do the magic 'shake' to get the magic water for the colour monsters. Have the class repeat the word 'shake' while shaking their hands in the air (you can ask the class to shake different body parts for each bottle to review or teach body part names).
Next, ask one student to come to the front and pick a water bottle (you may want to use your assistant teacher to demonstrate, or choose the first bottle yourself first). Have the student hold the water bottle very carefully.
Count down from five and then have the whole class shake all together as the student at the front shakes the water bottle. Watch as the water 'magically' changes color.
Ask the class what color the water is and have them chant all together 2-3 times, using the previously taught TPR, "It's yellow."
Ask the student at the front to give the water bottle to the correct color monster.
Repeat this process for the remaining water bottles.
2. Color Tap!
What will you need?
Coloured paper circles (or other shapes if you are reviewing shape vocabulary)
Print and laminate your color monster flashcards
1. Use the color monster chant to introduce the colour monster flashcards.
"Color monster, color monster, where are you?
Color monster, color monster, where are you?
Look, look, look
Look, look, look."
2. Show students a color monster to the class from behind your back while looking in the opposite direction. Be sure to go slow and keep a rhythm in your speech.
3. Next, pop out the color monster and introduce your friend using TPR. Chant and place the color monster on the floor in front of you. Be sure to repeat several times.
"On the floor tap, tap, on the floor tap, tap."
4. Next, sing the tap the color song while maintaining eye contact with all your students.
"We're gonna tap, tap, tap the red,
tap, tap, tap the red,
tap, tap, tap the red,
tap, tap, tap, tap, tap."
5. Give each student a colored circle. Make sure to say "here you are" as you give the student the circle and "thank you" when they take it. Encourage the student to say thank you, but don't force it if they're not ready.
6. Chant once again and have students place their circles on the floor.
"On the floor, on the floor."
When everyone is ready, once again sing the tap the color song. Once you have sung the song once, suddenly, wobble the circle and have it move to your belly. Once again, chant and repeat until your students have done the same.
7. Sing the tap the color song once more and again, move the circle, this time on to your head.
8. Once you have finished, collect the circles and say bye-bye to that color. Start the color monster chant once again and repeat the whole process with another color.
You can find an example of the color tap activity in this ESL demo class example...
3. What's Missing?
What's missing is a classic ESL game, but one element many teachers miss is putting the game into a context that children can understand.
What will you need?
OR color monster PPT (color games online for preschoolers)
Print and laminate the color monster flashcards.
OR set up the color monster PPT so that all students can see.
Introduce the color monster flashcards using chants and TPR, and place them on the floor one by one as you do.
Next, explain that an alien is coming and ask the class to close their eyes and stay still (make some funny alien noises to make it more fun).
As the students have closed their eyes, remove one of the color monsters and place it behind you.
Ask the class which color monster is missing. Once identified, explain that we need to find something of that color to get the color monster back.
Ask someone from the class to go and find something of that color from the classroom.
Have the class close their eyes and bring the color monster back once they do.
Repeat the process for the other color monsters.
I hope these 3 brilliant ways to teach colors in English help you to plan your ESL classes and help you inspire your students' confidence. Remember that if you're having fun, your students will have fun with you so enjoy! Why not finish the lesson with some coloring worksheets?
Want more tips and ideas? Check out this blog on teaching sea animals!
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