Color Baskets

Learning Areas:

  • Movement
  • Math


What is this activity?

ECSEL Standards

What skills are being enhanced? What knowledge is gained?


What do you need to prepare for this activity?

Group of infants. Five mixed race baby boy toddlers having fun together sitting on the floor. Flat style vector illustration isolated on white background.


Step by step guide

ECSEL Prompts

What questions can you ask to promote ECSEL thinking and discussions?

Extended Learning

How can you extend children’s thinking?


Children will be given the chance to explore, with the support of a teacher, various baskets of each color (red, orange, yellow, green, etc.) that are filled with objects of varying sizes, textures, weights, and shades of the designated color.

ECSEL Standards & Learning Goals

What skills are being enhanced & what knowledge is being gained through this activity?

Emotional Identification

Teachers will assist children in identifying the four basic emotions (happy, sad, angry, and scared as they arise within the context of this activity.

Emotional Understanding

Teachers will support children in beginning to understand the differences between the four basic emotions as they arise in this activity.

Empathy & Prosocial Skills

Children will work collaboratively to begin sharing and taking turns with materials as they explore.

Cause & Effect

Children will begin to understand their actions have an effect on the world around them. Teachers will support children in understanding simple causes for the four basic emotions related to sensory exploration and play.

Problem Solving

As situations arise, children will be using critical thinking skills to achieve their goals, such as exploring and observing different colored objects of different sizes, textures, shapes, and weight. Teachers will support children in using their emerging critical thinking skills to explore these items.

CASEL Standards

Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making


  • 1 Basket each for the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. (6 total)
  • 1 object of each of the following textures/sizes/weights/shades for each color: soft, hard, rough, smooth, light, heavy, small, large, bright, and dark. All objects should be age-appropriate and not present a choking hazard for young children.
  • White construction paper (teacher use only)
  • Colored markers (teacher use only)
  • Scissors (teacher use only)
  • Tape
  • Optional: printed images of each object inside each color basket


  1. To prepare for the activity, gather the indicated materials from around the classroom or other school environments the children are familiar with. Be sure to choose a variety of objects the children would be familiar with or have seen within their daily environments.
  2. Separate the objects by color and place them in their designated color basket, making sure to have a variety of sizes, textures, shades, and weights for each color.
  3. Create labels for each basket with the written name of the color in coordinating colored font. Bonus if you’re able to add realistic pictures of the objects within the basket for an additional visual. Cut out the labels and tape to each color basket.
  4. For younger infants (6 weeks to 6 months) that have not yet begun crawling, offer the baskets for them to investigate during tummy time, table time, or while sitting with a teacher. Place the baskets on a low shelf, or even the floor, for older infants (6 months to 16 months) to explore as they please.
  5. Following the children’s lead and engaging in the activity, be sure to include/address the following interactions/engagements:
      • For young infants who are working on their crawling, place the baskets and objects just beyond their reach to encourage forward movement. Remain aware of and monitor the child’s frustration level and provide support and encouragement as needed.
      • For both older and young infants, encourage them to manipulate and experiment with the varying textures and weights of the objects to further their fine motor skills. Make verbal statements about your observations (“I see you have a red feather!”, “The feather is so soft and light in our hands.”).
      • Ask questions that will further their exploration and critical thinking (“What if we drop the feather? Oh! It falls slowly!”, “Can you find something soft?”, “Where’s the purple basket?”).
  6. As children explore, identify the four basic emotions by name as they arise while children pick up, observe, and drop materials in and out of the color baskets.
  7. Encourage exploration, collaboration, and sharing of materials throughout this activity. Verbalize acts of problem-solving that you see taking place, such as how children are beginning to think critically to match colors and objects.

ECSEL Prompts

ECSEL Prompts are helpful questions & guiding statements you can use to provoke children’s thinking about emotions. These prompts are related to this specific activity.

I see a smile! When we’re happy, we smile! Do you feel happy when you touch the feather? I’m scared! My body jumped and my mouth made an O like this.

The soft feather makes me happy but the rough paper makes me angry and scared. We have lots of emotions and materials can make us feel different things!

Look at my friend. He has a frown and a tear on his cheek. He looks so sad when he doesn’t get to play with the scarf.

I hear you laughing! Does dumping the basket out make you feel silly? Hugging this soft teddy bear makes me feel happy.

This block is dark yellow and this lemon is bright yellow. The bright yellow lemon makes me think of the sun and I feel happy!

Extended Learning

Use these questions & ideas to extend children’s learning!

Extend this activity by supporting children in using their fine motor skills to pick up objects and place them in their designated color baskets. For example, “Let’s put the colors back in their baskets! Can we find matches?”

Support children in connecting materials to regulation techniques. For example, “I love soft things! Let’s find all the soft objects. They make me feel happy and calm.”

Incorporate additional mathematical concepts by discussing the weight of objects. For example, “Oh, this one is so heavy! Let’s see how high we can lift it above our heads.”

Infant – Color Baskets

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