- Ages: 3 to 6
- Materials: Sidewalk chalk (or colored tape) and an even surface on which you can either draw in chalk or lay tape
- Time: 10-20 minutes
- # of kids: 3 or more
All you need is a square with a different color on each side.We've added a few twists and find this simple game a highly engaging way for kids ages 3-6 to build skills as they run, jump and squeal with delight. And, you can easily add challenge so it grows with your kids. Thanks to friends at teachpreschool.org for giving us a place to start!
"The Color Square" (as named by a few Tinkergarten explorers) is a simple, easy-to-set-up game that is instantly fun and has several clear benefits:
- Self Control/Focus—The game requires players to listen carefully and follow directions, a fun and motivating way to develop self control.
- Motor Skills—After kids listen to directions and decide where and how to run next, their bodies need to follow, helping to build brain-body coordination and control over their big muscles (gross moter skills).
- Making Connections—As kids get older, you can start to give clues like, "The color of the sky" or "Girls only stand on green." These require kids to make connections between an idea and a color or to consider which category in which they belong—sophisticated stuff for such young friends!
To play the game, create a square on the ground. The square should have a different color on each side. We like using sidewalk chalk (cheap and washes away nicely) but you can also use colored tape. Make the square big enough for all of the children playing to stand on any one side of the square (with a little room to wiggle before they bug their neighbors). The bigger the square, the more running they'll do, so expand your square for those who like to run.
Then, start them off: "All explorers on red!" Kids should run to the red line. Then, shout out "All explorers on green!" Accordingly, kids should run to the green line. Repeat this for each of the four colors until kids seem to get the hang of it. Next, introduce, "All explorers on rainbow!" See what kids do (They will come up with some neat ideas about what they are supposed to do); then, tell them that the "rainbow" command means move to the center. For younger children, just listening and following these five basic directions will be challenging and fun.
Some twists for older kids and/or those who are ready:
- Repeat the same color—Repeat the command that you just gave, and you'll see kids bodies move before their minds catch up with them...testing this is a great way to boost self control!
- Split by gender—Shout out clues that are just for girls or just for boys.
- Give clues about the colors—Rather than say, "All explorers on green" say, "All explorers on the color of the grass" or "All explorers on the color of the frogs."
- Give clues about participants—Include some personal information about the kids. For example, "All explorers who like pizza on yellow!"
- Let kids give the commands—Once kids really get the game, they will LOVE the chance to give them commands!
- Make it a pentagon, hexagon (if you have the colors, keep going!)—This adds challenge and can give you more options for tricky clues...plus you can throw a little geometry lesson in there! For example, direct them to an angle where two colors meet or ask them to run to a parallel side.
- Change up the way kids move—Change the method of travel to the next spot in your directions to add cognitive and physical challenge. For example, "Explorers, hop to yellow." or "Girls, march to red."