The Most Useful Colour Vocabulary Activities

By Alex Case
Colour word activities with other useful language and skills practice

There are so many fun things that can be done on the topic of colours that it is well worth thinking carefully about which activity you choose in order to really make the most of this topic. The most useful should probably include one or more of:

  • having a mix of revision of colour words they know and useful new words (“dark blue”, “gold”, “beige”, etc)
  • having useful skills work (teaching colour word recognition/ using colour words to practise phonics, having lots of speaking and listening, using the colour words to tackle pronunciation points such as consonant clusters, etc)
  • teaching other useful vocabulary, grammar, etc at the same time

This article covers all three, but concentrates most on the third point. Useful language covered includes:

  • adjectives
  • animals
  • body vocabulary
  • classroom vocabulary
  • clothes
  • comparative and superlative
  • food vocabulary
  • have
  • like
  • possessions
  • prepositions
  • Present Continuous
  • pronouns
  • shapes
  • syllables
  • word stress

Most of these activities are suitable for the young and/ or low-level learners that are most often taught colours, but there are also some which involve more discussion.

Colours plus pick and draw

Students take cards and put them together to tell them what to do draw, in combinations like:

  • “(There is) a red hat (is) on a blue cat”
  • “A green dog is eating a pink apple”
  • “(It is) an old long purple bus”
  • “(There are/ It has) two white circles, one red triangle, three black circles” (for a snowman)
  • “It is grey. They are dark green.”
  • “an orange C…” (to draw something beginning with that letter in that colour)
  • “(It has) (four) red legs” (to draw a monster)
  • “He has blue eyes. She has green eyes. They have black hair.”
  • “The longest one is pink. The black one is fatter than the white one.”

This can be done:

  • with all students drawing what the cards say, maybe with points for the best
  • challenging the next student to draw what the cards say
  • drawing what they chose and adding that to a bigger picture
  • secretly putting the cards together, then drawing what they say for others to guess

Instead of picking cards, students could roll a dice to decide between six colours, six things, etc.

Colours memory games

Students test each other on their memories of the colours of things that they have already seen on flashcards, in a picture, in the classroom, etc (“What colour is the butterfly?”, “What is pink?”, “Are the curtains black?”, etc).

Colours guessing games

Students guess which objects are being described from hints starting with colours and then carrying on with other descriptions like “It is big”, “It is in this room” and “I like it”.

They could also guess the colour from the name of objects like “My hat” and “My desk”.

Colours pelmanism

Make a pack of cards which have names of things which you want to practise and which share between four and ten colours, e.g. “apple” and “fire engine” because they are both red. Students spread the cards across the table and take turns trying to find pairs that match by colour.

Colours brainstorming races

Students pick a colour and race to name or write names of things which match it as quickly as possible. To score, they could get a point for anything that other groups didn’t think of and accept is that colour, with half a point if the spelling or pronunciation is wrong.

You can give more restricted things to brainstorm like “Green things in nature”, “Black foods” and “White things stressed on the first syllable”.

Colours make me say yes

Students choose or are given a colour word and try to get positive answers from personal questions with it like “Do you have brown shoes?” and “Do you like brown ice cream?” This can be done with one question per colour word card, or (probably more usefully) until someone gets a negative answer.

Colours touch and guess

Choose things which have distinctive colours and shapes such as plastic fruit or some classroom objects that they often see (the class stapler, etc). Without looking at them, students touch them and say “It’s a white eraser” etc. Especially if they can’t be trusted to keep their eyes closed, this can be done with a big bag full of things which they put their hands into, either to identify anything they can or to find something with the colour that they are told.

Colouring code games

Students have to colour in a picture following a code that tests their knowledge of the vocabulary, e.g. “Colour words starting with B brown” or “Red for words with one syllable red”.

Colours mix and match booklets

Make a list of colours and objects, some of which are funny combinations like “Your hair – gold” and “The teacher – purple”. Put a random colour and object in large text above each other on each page, perhaps in a sentence like “Is + the board + pink?” Put the pages together, then cut through them so that individual colours or objects can be turned on their own, then let students turn them to make silly or sensible matches. Students could then possibly make their own versions.

Colours run and touch and shout

Students hear “It’s a brown ruler” and race to touch that and shout out the same thing, or hear “It’s brown” and race to touch things with that colour and shout out the name and colour of each thing.

Colours discuss and agree

Students work together to write sentences with opinions on colours that they share like “The best colour for… is…”, “They should change the colour of… to…”, “We like… ….s, but not … ….s”, “…wallpaper…” and “For a party,…”

Written by Alex Case for Teflnet August 2023
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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