Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

Young children learn to see colours and even differentiate between similar colours from quite an early age. It’s not till later that they start to learn the names for colours and often have a number of colour names by around the age of three. Learning about colour is an important part of a child’s mathematical development and it is important that children are able to identify and match colours when entering foundation stage. This activity introduces children to some simple colours by playing a game which asks children to identify the colours of their clothes.

Equipment required

• None


Two to three weeks

How it works

This activity is based on the children’s playground game – ‘Mother May I?’ It involves children being able to move forward if they are wearing a certain colour. It will need lots of parental help so is best used with classes were parents are keen to participate and support their instructor.

What to do in the class

Children and parents stand at one end of the room (along the width rather than length so they are not too far away). The instructor stands on the other side of the hall with Ralph. Explain to the children that they have to take a step forward if they are wearing a colour that Ralph says. They have to try and reach Ralph before he shouts ‘Rainbow’ and he runs after the children trying to tickle them. Ensure that the children are holding their parent’s hand during the running away to prevent collisions and trips or use the nursery option of curling into a ball if preferred.

The children and parents shout out ‘Ralph May I Step Forward?’ and Ralph answers ‘Yes, if you are wearing blue.’ Every child or parent wearing blue can step forward (they step as a couple even if only one of them is wearing the colour). This continues with different colours. When the children start to get close, Ralph replies ‘Rainbow’ and chases the children back to the other wall.

If instructors are finding that the clothes colours are too limited or obscure, they could give out a bean bag to each parent and child, so as a couple they are holding 2 colours. Then Ralph could answer, “Yes, if you are holding red.”

Adaptations for older/younger children

You can make the colours a little more challenging for older children (i.e orange, brown, pink, grey etc)

What to do in a nursery setting

The game would work with older children, but in order to maintain safety, when Ralph shouts rainbow the children have to curl on the floor into a ball and ‘hide’.