I read somewhere online that children can begin simple sorting by color close to age two. It reminded me of one of the activities I'd read in The Toddler's Busy Book called Pompom Fun.
Before I started this blog, I'd read through my toddler activity books and made a trip to the craft store. I picked up some pipe cleaners, some containers with lids, and some pompoms. That was also the same trip in which I picked up the cheap glow stick or his Fourth of July glow stick activity. I think the large bag of pompoms I bought was $4. To me, that's a little expensive for a bunch of fuzzy things, but I have a feeling they will provide fun and entertainment for a few years. I suppose it's worth it in that regard.
Anyway, with Pompom fun, you choose pompoms in no more than three colors (or sizes, because they suggest teaching your child to sort by size, too. I haven't done this yet) for your young toddler. If you're like me and haven't really taught your child colors yet, then I'd recommend starting with two. I chose yellow and red because I felt like those two primary colors are very distinct from each other. The book recommends just having your child sort them by color.
Well, in Oliver's case at least, I knew I couldn't just hand him a bunch of pompoms and have him sort them. He hasn't worked with color yet at all. So, I put all the yellow ones in a container and all the red ones in another container. I told him which ones were yellow and which ones were red. Then, I removed a red one and placed it on the floor. I asked him where the red one goes. He did a very good job sorting, but it's not as easy as you'd think. I'd say he got it right approximately 9 out 10 times.
Once he seemed to fully understand the concept, I started grabbing a couple pompoms at a time. At first, when the pompoms were different colors, it threw him off. He'd put both in one bucket or the other. I'd tease him and say, "Oh, no! There's a yellow pompom in the red bucket!" He started to separate them out (sometimes after placing them both in the same bucket first). I'd say his accuracy with two pompoms at a time is approximately 7 or 8 out of 10.
We've been working on this activity for about a week now. Today was the first time I stopped to take pictures because I'd been working with him so closely at it. The activity doesn't keep Oliver occupied for very long. He'll usually do a few pompoms and then wander off to do something more fun. So, I can't claim that this activity will keep toddlers entertained for a long period of time. That said, I felt good about stimulating him and teaching him something new. I've probably waited a little too long to introduce him to colors, and I think this activity was a good way for me to begin. Soon, I'll grab a third bucket of pompoms (maybe purple, since we don't have blue), and start challenging him with three different colors.
I give Pompom Fun a B grade. I liked the activity, and I feel like it's teaching Oliver something new. However, it takes advanced preparation, it costs a bit of money, and it doesn't keep toddlers entertained for any lengthy period of time.
UPDATE: At nearly 23 months old, Oliver now enjoys dumping out all of his red, yellow, and purple pom-poms. He then sorts them into the three buckets. His mistakes are fairly rare, but when he puts the wrong one in a bucket, he usually dumps out the entire bucket to start again.