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Ways to Play - Paint Chips

Ways to Play - Paint Chips

I’m a huge fan of using versatile and open-ended toys and materials in kids’ activities, because they truly leave much up to the imagination and creativity of how you want to utilise them to enable play and learning. So I’m really excited to be launching this blog series on “Ways to Play” where I’ll spotlight one open-ended toy or material in each blog post, and showcase the different ways you can play with it!

We are starting with an old-school favourite - Paint Chips!

What are paint chips?

They are essentially cards showing colours or a range of related colours available in a type of paint. You can get these cards usually for free, from a hardware store.

Now, not every country or every hardware store gives out these paint chips freely. For one, in Singapore, it has proven quite difficult to get my hands on a substantial number of paint chips to be able to carry out meaningful activities. So, I’ve created paint chips of our own, and you can download them for free here!


What do you need to get started on the activities below using paint chips?

1. Download our free paint chips printables here. We’ve provided 8 different colored paint chips in 3 different sizes:

  • Paint chip strips of 4 (16cm by 8cm)
  • Paint chip strips of 3 (12cm by 8 cm)
  • Paint chip strips of 3 (18cm by 8cm)

2. Print on A4-sized paper, one-sided and in full color. Print as many copies as you would like!

3. Laminate them and cut the paint chips out. You will need the glossy laminated surface to be able to carry out some of the activities below where we will be writing on the paint chips with a whiteboard marker.

4. Other materials you will need to carry out the below activities: 

  • scissors
  • whiteboard marker
  • dot stickers
  • wooden pegs
  • Colored loose materials (colored pom poms, colored ice cream sticks, colored beans etc)

So let’s get into it! What are the ways to play with these amazing versatile materials? Here, we show you 18 different ways of playing with them which span across 13 different skills and learning abilities!


Ways to Play With Paint Chips


1. Nature Color Hunt

Paste the paint chips on a cardboard piece, bring them out on a nature walk with your kids, and get your little ones to find nature items which match each color. It’s a great way to incorporate learning into outdoors play!

What do you need:

  • Tongs (if you want to incorporate fine motor skills for them to pick up the nature items)
  • Ziplock bags to store the items they find
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills

2. Treasure Hunt Around The House

How about a treasure hunt at home too, to help your little one identify the different colored items he has at home? This activity will provide awareness on the different colours he sees on a daily basis around him.

”Oh, your scissors is red!”

”Have you ever noticed that lego toy of yours is green in color?”

”Look at those straws we have in the kitchen. Are they purple?”

Simply lay out the paint chips on a tray, provide a container for each color, and set your little one out to find items for each color! If you have more than 1 kid, you can even make it a mini competition!

What do you need:

  • Tray
  • Containers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Gross motor skills


3. Sorting By Colors

What are colored paint chips used for, if not for some basic color sorting activities!

Use a posting box if you are lucky enough to own one! If not, you can do a low-prep version like what I did in the photo above.

Simply cut up the strips of paint chips, and get your little one to sort them out by color. If your child is more advanced in color recognition, you can use the paint chip strips of 4 (instead of strips of 3) in our printables, where there are 4 shades per color.

What do you need:

  • Posting box (if you have one)
  • Containers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition

4. Sorting By Shades

Sorting by shades is an activity for children who are more advanced in color recognition, and have some ability in differentiating the shades of the same color.

Carry out color shades sequencing by getting your child to arrange each colored paint chip (above example is on purple) from the lightest shade to the darkest shade.

Or do color shades sorting!

Place all the paint cards in front of the child, and get him to sort them by categorizing all the lightest shades together, and the darkest shades together.

What do you need:

  • Tray

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Cognitive thinking


5. Using Rainbow Soybeans

We had previously shared a few Instagram posts on our sensory play using rainbow soybeans. One of the activities you can do with rainbow soybeans is sorting them by color!

You can incorporate some good ol’ sensory play with the above activity as well!

Simply lay out the paint chips, place a container at each color, throw in some tongs (you can also use scoops or spoons), and watch as your child sort out those rainbow beans!

What do you need:

  • Rainbow soybeans (or any colored loose materials like colored pom poms, colored ice cream sticks etc)
  • Containers
  • Tongs or scoops or spoons

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Fine motor skills
  • Sensory play

6. Using Ice-Cream Sticks

An alternative to using rainbow soybeans is to use colored ice-cream sticks! This is also a safer alternative if your child is younger, as the rainbow soybeans are potential choking hazards for babies.

The set up for this is the same as that for the rainbow soybeans!

What do you need:

  • Colored ice cream sticks
  • Containers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition

7. Using Dot Stickers

Who doesn’t love dot stickers?! They are such great accessories to almost every activity I can think of!

Get different colored dot stickers, lay them together with the paint chips in front of the child, and get him to paste the dot stickers on the paint chip that matches them in color.

This is one of the reasons why your paint chips need to be laminated. With the laminated glossy surface, you can easily peel the dot stickers out after this activity and re-use the same paint chips for another!

What do you need:

  • Colored dot stickers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Fine motor skills


8. Color Sequencing

This activity is perfect for older toddlers and preschoolers! It incorporates color recognition together with sequencing and identification of patterns.

Create a few different color patterns on pieces of paper, and place the paint chips in a container in front of your child. Get him to arrange the colours according to the color pattern he sees in front of him.

What do you need:

  • Colored pencils or markers (to create the color patterns)
  • Paper

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Identification of patterns
  • Sequencing


9. Color Identification Cards

One of the best things about paint chips is that they have several shades of the same color in one strip, so you can use them to teach categorisation or association.

Here’s my version of color identification cards - English word, Mandarin word, and a simple image of an item which is associated with that particular color. 

You can use these identification cards to teach colours, language, and color association (ask your child “what are the items which you will associate with blue?”). You can also cut up the paint chips and get your child to match the English word for blue with the Mandarin word for blue for example.

There are so many ways you can use these identification cards!

For these identification cards, I’ve used a whiteboard marker to write on them. Because of the laminated glossy surfaces (I would highly recommend that you laminate your paint chips!), I can easily wipe them off with a tissue paper, and re-write / re-use them for other purposes.

If you want to make these identification cards permanent, then of course, use a permanent marker for them!

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Language
  • Association

10. Number Identification Cards

Similar to color identification cards, you can also create number identification cards. These are my favourite identification cards to create!

For my number identification cards, I wrote the numeral on the first strip, the English word on the second strip, the Mandarin word on the third strip, and I left the fourth strip blank.

I provided some black dot stickers here. I specifically used black, because colored dot stickers might confuse your child into carrying out color matching instead of focusing on counting and numeracy, which is the intent of this activity here.

Get your child to identify the numeral, and paste the correct number of dot stickers on each paint chip.

You can also do the reverse! Leave any of the other strips blank, and fill up the fourth strip with a certain number of dot stickers. Get your child to count the dot stickers, and then use a whiteboard marker to write (or spell out) the number!

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers
  • Black or white dot stickers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Numeracy
  • Counting
  • Language
  • Fine motor skills

11. Alphabet Identification Cards

Another type of identification cards you can create is alphabet identification cards!

For my alphabet identification cards, I wrote both the upper and lower case alphabets on the first strip, drew an image of an item that starts with that alphabet on the second strip, and the word for that item on the third strip.

There are so many ways you can create and play with these identification cards.

For eg, write uppercase A on the first strip, draw an Apple on the second, and leave the third strip blank for the child to write the lower case.

Or, write upper and lower case Aa on the first strip, write Apple on the third strip, and leave the second strip for your child to draw in an Apple!

It really depends on which learning skill you want to focus on in this activity! This is also why your paint chips need to be laminated so you can write with a whiteboard marker, and erase it anytime!

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Language
  • Word association
  • Alphabet recognition and matching

12. Category Identification Cards

Another type of identification cards you can create is categories. I would recommend these types of identification cards more for preschoolers who already possess a certain level of literacy.

In the above example, I’ve created food category identification cards. Below are some prompts or questions you can ask your child.

”What kind of foods are green in color?”

”Can you name me some foods which are green?”

”Do you think an apple and a strawberry have the same colours?”

Another way of carrying out the above activity is to print pictures of the different foods, and get your child to categorize them according to the colours on the paint chips.

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers
  • Printed images (optional)

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Color matching & recognition
  • Language
  • Association
  • Categorization


13. Sight Words

And yes, how can we not carry out sight words with these amazing paint chips!

Here, I wrote words associated with yellow on the yellow paint chips, and those with green on the green paint chips.

Do the same on another set of paint chips, and cut the strips out. Then get your child to match the words!

Above is another way of carrying out this sight word activity by using pegs!

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers
  • Pegs

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Language
  • Fine motor skills

14. Sight Alphabets

If you’re not comfortable introducing words to your little one yet, then why not carry out an activity on sight alphabets instead?

You can either get your child to match the same uppercase alphabets (A with A), or the match the corresponding lowercase alphabet with the uppercase alphabet (a with A).

Above is another way of carrying out sight alphabets by using pegs!

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers
  • Pegs

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Language
  • Fine motor skills

15. Phonics

For the lack of a better way to describe this activity, here’s a simple basic activity to teach pronunciation and enunciation.

Draw an image of an item on another paint chip. In the example above, I’ve drawn a car.

I asked T “what’s this?”

T said, “car”

I emphasised the pronunciation of the word “c-c-c-ca-ca-car”.

And I asked him “which alphabet do you think it starts with?”

Note that this activity is more suitable for preschoolers. T is 3.5 years old, and he can identify and recognise the sounds of simpler alphabets such as A, B, C, D, F, S, T etc. So those are the only alphabets we focused on for this activity.

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers
  • Pegs

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Language
  • Phonics
  • Fine motor skills


16. Odd One Out

Here’s another activity to help your child learn association and categorisation. He will need to identify which item is the odd one out here. This is one of T’s favourite kind of activities!

Draw a few images on the same paint chip, ensuring that they all belong to the same category except for one. You can incorporate early literacy here as well by asking your child to name you what each item is.

You will notice that the items I’ve drawn are behind simple words suitable for older toddlers and preschoolers.

Get your child to identify which image is the odd one out, and peg it!

What do you need:

  • Whiteboard markers
  • Pegs

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Language
  • Association
  • Cognitive thinking
  • Fine motor skills


17. Form a Puzzle

Create simple puzzles out of the paint chips by cutting basic shapes out of them and getting your child to piece them back together.

What do you need:

  • Scissors

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Form recognition
  • Cognitive thinking


18. Emotion Cards

Have you read all about our calm down corners and the emotion cubes we had created to help the child identify and recognise the different emotions he’s experiencing?

If you have not, do click “Calm Down Corners - A Positive Tool to Regulating Emotions” to read all about them!

Here’s an alternative to the emotion cubes - let’s create emotion cards using the paint chips!

Similar to how we had created the emotion cubes with T, here are the questions or prompts you can use to create these emotion cards with your child.

”Do you want to create an emotion card for happiness?”

”Which colored paint chips would you like to use to represent happy?”

”Let’s draw a happy face here.”

”Tell me, what makes you happy? Let’s draw each of them on this paint chip.”

We had created 4 emotion cards with T - happy, sad, angry and scared. The above are answers from him on what makes him happy, sad, angry and scared respectively. And we drew each of them on the paint chip.

It’s an amazing activity to carry out with your child to help him identify and recognise his different emotions, and it also provides a good glimpse for you as the parent into what goes on in his mind! Do try these at home!

What do you need:

  • Permanent markers (I recommend using permanent markers here so you can keep these emotion cards intact in his/her calm down corner!)

Skills / learning abilities:

  • Socio-emotional skills
  • Language


Those are the 18 different ways you can use your paint chips, which span across 13 different skills and learning abilities!

I would love to see how these activities pan out at home, or if you have more amazing ideas to share with me and the community, do tag me on Facebook (Popsiclesandplay) and Instagram (@popsicles_play)!

Download our free paint chips printables to carry out these activities now!

-> Click here!


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