Preschool isn't only about learning the ABCs and 123s. Although literacy and basic math are both essential pieces of the early-education puzzle, more artsy concepts such as colors and shapes can introduce all sorts of new skills, from the science of a rainbow prism to 2-D geometry. They're also so much fun, kids won't even realize they're learning. Color and shape activities are perfect pint-sized learning opportunities, and easy for parents to have fun with at home.
A crafty color-mixing activity is an easy way to introduce basic art and science concepts to preschoolers. Get out the three primaries -- red, yellow and blue -- and let your little learner explore all of the different colors she can make. Pour golf-ball-sized pools of nontoxic primary-colored tempera paints on a palette or paper plate. Give your child a thick paintbrush and a few pieces of white paper. Stay hands-off and let her make her own discoveries. Ask her a few open-ended questions to get the inquiry process going, such as, "What happens when you mix red and blue?" For an even more scientific approach, give your preschooler two different-colored ice cubes (made with food-coloring-enhanced water). Put them in a cup and ask her what she thinks will happen. Watch them melt and blend into a new shade.
Geometry for Little Learners
One of the most basic math concepts that all preschoolers learn is geometry -- not the protractor-wielding kind you grappled with in high school, but a simple studying of shapes that's easy for even 3-year-olds to master. Make learning about geometry hands-on by helping your preschooler draw and cut out a few simple shapes on pieces of colorful construction paper. Use a template or stencil to make triangles, circles, squares and rectangles. Cut them out with kids' safety scissors and use them as flash cards to identify the shapes, or glue them onto a piece of paper to make a colorful collage.
Color activities don't always have to be art projects. It's easy to get out a rainbow of crayons or paints and try out a crafty color activity, but creating your own rainbow is equally as entertaining and educational, and not too hard at all. For a simple science experiment, try squirting water into the outside air on a sunny day to make your very own backyard rainbow, or get out a prism and shine it in the light for an indoor stream of color.
Combine colors and shapes together to make a playful pattern activity. This simple preschool project can help your little learner understand basic math concepts while flexing her artistic muscles. Gather together a few different-shaped stampers, white or light-colored paper, some paper plates, and at least two different colors of nontoxic tempera paint. Pour the paint in shallow pools on the plates. Choose two or more shaped stampers, assigning one color to each shape. Dip the stampers in the paint and create a colorful shape pattern such as red circle, blue triangle, green square, red circle, blue triangle, green square.