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Explore and Play: Sorting Shades

Sort different shades of colors.

Materials and Preparation

  • paint chips (if they are strips with many different shades, cut them up into individual chips)  
  • paper bags (or other container), one for each major color: red, yellow, green, blue, orange, purple
  • Tape one paint chip of each color to a bag.
  • Place all the color chips in another paper bag (or container).

Key Science Concepts

  • There are many different colors.
  • A single color can have different shades, from very light to very dark.


Tell children they will be sorting paint chips of many different colors and shades into bags.

  1. Show children the bags with the different-colored paint chips taped on the outside.
  2. Pour the color chips out of the bag, so children can see the array of colors.
  3. Have children sort the paint chips, placing the different shades in the corresponding bags—all shades of blue, for example, will go in the bag with the blue paint chip.

Reflect and Share

When children are done sorting all the colors, pour out the contents of each bag one at a time, asking them to look at the pile of shades. Ask, Are these chips all different shades of the same color? Are any of them a shade of a different color? Do you think some of these colors belong in different bags? Is it sometimes hard to tell what color something is?