Children love big bright, colourful things. Watch them walk into a colourful room, and their eyes will light up with wonder. Colour recognition, numbers and shapes are some of the early concepts that children begin recognising by the age of 2. 

Even though your child may start to recognise colours early, learning colours isn’t always easy. To learn a colour, a child must first know the word and then the abstract concept. Between 4 -5 years, children should be able to name and match four colours.

Don’t despair if your child mislabels colours. Scientific research links the difficulty with learning colours with the way we speak English. We need to separate the colour from the object or shape when encouraging children to learn how to conceptualise colours.

So, instead of saying: “Look, there is a blue car,” we could say, “Look there is a car; it is blue. What else is blue?” Or, when they get a colour wrong: “That is not red. See that ball that is red. This colour is green. What else is green?”

Action songs and rhymes can also help children with learning. They play an essential role in cognitive development, gross motor skills, creativity and memory recall. Action songs and rhymes are accompanied by repetitive movements, and children love to sing and move to them.

We’ve selected 5 fun songs that include:

  • Actions and activities.

  • Popular nursery rhyme tunes.

  • Promote colour recognition.

Child holds crayon as part of a colour recognition activity.

1. Colours of the Rainbow Song

The Colours of the Rainbow Song is sung to a modified version of the nursery rhyme, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. 

  • For the first verse, your child skips around in a circle. 

  • For the second and subsequent verses, your child makes big sweeping movements from side to side with a hand, as if painting their rainbow in the sky.

Here we go round the rainbow,

The rainbow,

The rainbow,

Here we go round the rainbow,

On a wet and rainy morning.


This is the way we colour it red, 

Colour it red,

Colour it red,

This is the way we colour it red,

On a wet and rainy morning.

Repeat the second verse, replacing red with the basic colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Level it up with a colour recognition activity

Paint a rainbow on a large sheet of paper. As you sing the rainbow song, your child selects the colour from the verse to paint one of the colours of the rainbow.

Activity table ready for painting along to Colours of the Rainbow Song.

2. Roll Call Colour Song for Kids

Sung to the tune of Frère Jacques (Brother John), Roll Call Colour Song this is a fabulous song for singing in a group or with your child. It teaches toddlers and preschoolers basic colours, red, blue, orange, green, purple and yellow.

You can sing this song with crayons or create large circles or squares of each colour (a painted page or felt piece in each colour works well.)

Red and blue, red and blue

Orange and purple, orange and purple

Don’t forget green, don’t forget green

And yellow too, and yellow too.

Encourage your child to point to each colour as it’s sung. If you are singing this with a group of children, they can hold a colour square or circle and raise it up high when their colour is sung aloud.

3. The Messy Painting Song of Colours for Toddlers

This song to the tune of Three Blind Mice, is fun to sing with your child as they are messy painting. Put up a large sheet of paper or cardboard with a tub of each colour (watercolours are best).

Red, yellow, blue. Red, yellow, blue.

See how they mix. See how they mix.

They all run around to make a mess.

I don’t want to get any on my dress.

For these three colours are sticky, yes?

As red, yellow, blue.

Learning with numbers and colours for toddlers and preschoolers

4. The Colour Game Song: Colours for Children

The Colour Game Song is sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Aside from naming and recognising colours, it is also a good song for moving about too.

If you’re wearing blue today,

Stand up now and shout “Hooray!”

If you’re wearing green or red,

Lie on the floor and go to bed.

If you’re wearing yellow too,

Take a number they’re for you.

If there’s a colour I forgot,

Go for a walk and start to hop.

The last verse repeats the first four bars of the song and includes everyone else in the game. You can also change the colours around or swap them for other ones, except for red. Red has to stay where it is because it rhymes with bed. 

Here is another version of this song with different colours:

If you’re wearing pink today,

Stand up now and shout “Hooray!”

If you’re wearing white or black,

Lie on the floor and roll to your back.

If you’re wearing purple too,

Take a number they’re for you.

If there’s a colour I forgot,

Go for a walk and start to hop.

Toddlers running about playing games and learning colours for children.

5. Learning Colours Song for children

The Learning Colours Song works well with colours your child is wearing or colours that are around you. You can choose three different colours from your environment and sing the rhyme to the tune of Hot Cross Buns.

Yellow, red, blue.

Yellow, red, blue.

Colours on me, colours all around

Yellow, red, blue.


I can give you colours,

To brighten your day too

Colours on me, colours all around

Yellow, red, blue.

Point to each colour as you sing. Ask your child if they can see any other colours that aren’t in the song. Then, swap the colours they find for the colours in this song and sing about those too.

Through music and rhymes, children explore and recognise colours in their environments. Combining our colour recognition songs with movement and other activities, children gain confidence as engaged learners and effective communicators.

Child learning colours with face painting.

Inspire Your Child With Songs and Rhymes at Petit Early Learning Journey

With centres located along the eastern seaboard of Australia, Petit ELJ provides an engaging curriculum inspired by children’s ideas and shaped by each unique community. Playing-based learning and singing songs are among the most effective ways to support a child’s development.

Discover how your nearest Petit ELJ centre uses simple games, nursery rhymes and other activities to encourage children to develop an understanding of numbers, shapes and colours. Give your child a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.

Book a tour now.