Exploring color sticks in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on October 19, 2011

in Activity Boxes, Popsicle Color Sticks

I save the oddest things when I find them. Like these colorful Popsicle sticks. I bought them at the end of summer from Walmart and put them away in a basket for a rainy day and it has been raining here all week long….

When I purchased these, I intended to set them out on my light table – which I will do on another day – but I had so many of them that I decided that it would be fun to put them all out on the art table for the children just to explore…

The children found the sticks sitting on the table and dived right in. I noticed that the first thing they did was sort them all out by colors.  Each child wanted to have all of one single color to him or herself so together – they did a little color sorting…

After sorting out the colors, the children began to try other types of play. Some of the children just liked holding and feeling them…

Some children liked stacking them together or crisscrossing them to make designs…

Some of our children shared their patterns with me…


While others preferred constructing shapes like this ladder…

We had other shapes too…

And in the middle of all of this – I had one child make the great discovery that if you put a yellow and blue color stick together – it will make the color green!!

Super exciting play and lots of learning going on!

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1 jackie October 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Hmmmm… Freezies for the light table! I never would have thought of that!! I may have to take my box out of the freezer, and defrost them. lol Brilliant, Deborah! :)

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:01 am

Thank you Jackie:) I love all things with color and that you can see through:)

3 Mandi@BoredomBustingMommy October 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

This is such a great idea! We always have tons of these around my house, and I’ve never thought about making an activity with them. Thanks for the inspiration!

4 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:01 am

You are welcome Mandi!

5 Esther October 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Ingenious! I would have never thought of Popsicle sticks on light table! Simple is fun, But didn’t the kids want to eat them? My daughter would immediately ask me to freeze it:-(

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:02 am

You know – they never even asked if they could eat them. I think perhaps because we are at preschool and they are used to me using things in unusual ways for play.

7 Linda October 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm

How did you keep the kids from trying to open them? We usually have these in the freezer during the summer for a treat. I have a box on the shelf and have had kids get them and proceed to open them. They don’t even ask me to freeze them!
I would have never thought of this idea.

8 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:03 am

I don’t know why, but the children didn’t even try to open them. They just wanted to play. I think that they are a little difficult to open without scissors but really – they children never asked to open them. But you could explain to the children ahead of time what your plan is and tell them you will save some for eating later.

9 Natalie October 19, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I love this idea! What a fun way to explore science, simple math concepts like patterns and geometry, art and sensory experiences all at once!

10 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:05 am

i love simple ideas too Natalie that let you explore these kinds of concepts!

11 Jill October 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Seriously! what an AWESOME idea! love it! pretty sure i havea box of those in my freezer I think i better take them out to explore with!

12 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:04 am

Thanks for stopping by Jill:)

13 Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree October 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I’ve always loved these popsicle sticks before they are frozen! They are so squooshy and fun to look at! Love your ideas!

14 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:04 am

They are very squishy and you can bend them too!

15 Bethany October 19, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Yes! Another pin to my board! Thanks so much, Deborah.

16 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:04 am

Oops – I forgot to pin this to my own board! LOL!

17 andiejaye October 20, 2011 at 3:15 am

i’ve never seen this anywhere! brilliant! so amazing all the different things they did with them!

18 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 3:20 am

They were pretty excited so I just let them explore freely. We will try them again soon on the light table.

19 Kirsty@BowerbirdBlue October 20, 2011 at 4:56 am

I am definitely doing this at home! so simple and extra mileage from the sweet stuff.

20 Heidi Butkus October 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

Boy, those sure look like Otter Pops to me!
Did anybody suck on them?

21 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

No – I didn’t have any children suck on them :) We use so many things like this in my classroom that the children understand that it is for play and not to eat. I talked to them first as well about not putting them in their mouth and they totally got it.

22 Terri October 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

What a great idea Deborah! We have a ton of these in the freezer, I may have to thaw some out and let the girls experiment a bit.

23 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Who would have thought we would now be thawing them out!

24 Karen @ PreKinders October 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Oh my goodness! What a perfect idea for the light table! I would never have thought it that.

25 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thank you Karen – so happy you stopped by!

26 Karen Green October 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I love this idea and I am definitely going to give it a go. I love seeing the math and science embedded in such a simple activity! Simple but ingenious I might add! :)

27 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Thank you Karen:)

28 Michelle Levy January 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Very neat idea!

29 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Thank you Michelle!

30 Amanda March 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Nice idea. I love discovering super-cheap educational “gems”. For this project, I really appreciate the sensory aspect of it – squishy and floppy, perhaps warm or cold. Bonus: color theory. I’ll be trying this with my homeschooling group of 4 preschoolers. :) Thanks!

31 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Wow – thanks for sharing the gems!

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