Here is an activity for the beginning of the year in level one.


Students can quickly move from a passive understanding to an active display of knowledge with this series of activities.

There are many words for colors in Spanish, but for this introduction, keep it simple.  Use only one word per color.  You can expand your students’ vocabularies later once they have mastered the basics.

Each student gets one color squares packet. Tell the students to put the colors on their desks and separate them.  Have them touch each color and count aloud together to be sure that each student has all 13 color squares.

Color Names BoardYou can introduce the colors in any order you like, but I enjoy having students learn them in the same order as the song that you will soon be singing.  Put big color squares with the word in Spanish on the board in this order:

rojo                 verde               azul

amarillo          morado

blanco             negro               anaranjado

This is the order of the colors in a song that you will shortly teach them. It fits with the melody, plus the easier colors are first, which gives kids a boost of confidence that they can do this.

There is no need to put the translation of the color words on the board because each color name is printed on paper that is that color.

  • Sing a song to the tune of the children’s song “If You’re Happy and You Know It”:

Rojo, verde y azul, ¡aplaudan las manos!

Rojo, verde y azul, ¡aplaudan las manos!

Amarillo y morado

blanco , negro y anaranjado

Rojo, verde y azul, ¡aplaudan las manos!

Red, green and blue, clap your hands!

Red, green and blue, clap your hands!

Yellow and purple

White, black and orange

Red, green and blue, clap your hands!


The song makes no sense, it is just for fun. But it is a good introduction to the colors because it contains many color words that are harder to remember. In my experience anaranjado, morado, amarillo, and verde (orange, purple, yellow & green) are the hardest colors for kids to remember. I do not know why. Could be because the words are longer?  It is interesting that three of the four are secondary colors, a mixture of primary colors. Does the brain perceive these colors differently?

The remaining basic colors are relatively easy to remember with mnemonics:

gris                  Begins with gr- like gray. If you get “grease” on a white shirt, you will have a gray spot.

café                 Sounds like coffee. Coffee is brown.

rosado             Sounds like rose—wild roses are pink.

dorado                        Remind them of the legend of “El Dorado”—the legendary lost city of gold.

plateado          If something is silver plated it is silver colored.


  1. □   rojo                 red
  2. □   anaranjado    orange
  3. □   amarillo          yellow
  4. □   verde               green
  5. □   azul                 blue
  6. □   morado           purple
  7. □   rosado             pink
  8. □   blanco             white
  9. □   gris                  gray
  10. negro              black
  11. café                 brown
  12. dorado            gold
  13. plateado          silver

Copy the list above, cut it out, and stick it on the folder containing the color squares packets that you will give to your students. This will remind you or your student aide of the contents of each color squares packet.

Have a student aide cut out 1 ½” x 1 ½” squares from colored construction paper or wrapping paper..

Put the colors in packets in the order above and secure them with a paper clip.

Notice that the colors begin with the order of the rainbow. You can tell at a glance if the colors are all there—red on top, silver on the bottom.

To be extra sure that each packet contains all of the colors, have a student aide go through the color packets to be sure they are all there.

Useful vocabulary for the teacher:                  el paquete de colores              the color packet

(It is not necessary to teach or say these)        el sujetapapeles                       paper clip


Pass out the color squares packets.

Tell the students to spread them out on their desks.

Sing the song again.

Tell the students to touch their color squares as you sing. If they seem to be getting it (if they are quickly and confidently touching the correct colors as you sing, have them mix up the order of the colors on their desks. There is no need to have them sing the first time through—they can join in and sing with you in later repetitions of the song, if they like.



  • Pick up a red color square and say, “Clase, enséñame rojo.” Class, show me red.
  • Students will pick up and show you the red square. At this point the students will not say anything—they will just show that they understand the word. Introduce and practice no more than three colors at a time. Keep working on those three colors until each student can react quickly, confidently and correctly.
  • Make sure that each student clearly shows you the square each time. Faster learners help reinforce the vocabulary to the slower learners, but we do not want the slower learners to be lost.
  • Repeat this process over and over with the first 3 color squares until students are fast and confident. Once they get it, you can also try to trick them by showing one color and saying another, which is fun.
  • Keep reviewing as you add new colors.
  • Eventually, there will be too many colors for them to show you a color. At that point (after working with about 5 colors for a while), switch your directive to “toca” (touch). Make it a game, like the dexterity test they used to give for job applicants who want to work at the post office—they needed fast brains and hands to sort the mail.
  • Go faster and faster. They may get to the point where they have to use two hands to keep up.
  • Finally, have students identify each color as the teacher shows the colors one by one and asks

“¿Qué color es?”

  • After that, begin asking questions using commonly know color combinations:

¿Qué color es una combinación de…             ______    y      ______                        =          ?

                                                    ….    rojo      y        amarillo          =          anaranjado

                                                    ….    rojo      y        azul?               =          morado

                                                    ….    azul      y        amarillo?        =          verde

We keep jumping back into recognition, even at this stage. It is not all production.

  • Recognition: Announce the category and say the color combinations of sports teams, animals or

holidays and have the students guess which one they are.

  • Production: Ask the colors of sports teams, animals, holidays.

Give the name of a sports team and ask for the colors.

Give the name of an animal and ask for the colors.


  • Notice that in the list of colors at the start of this lesson the first six are in the color of the rainbow.
  • When the activity is over, tell the students to put them back in the exact same order, by naming off the colors one-by-one in Spanish and demonstrating as you say them. That way, you can always tell if a packet is complete—it will be red on one side and silver on the other side. It is also a good review and a closure to the activity. See the order of the colors in the packet at the beginning of this lesson.


Noun-based language teaching is the scourge of beginning level language teaching. Teaching newbies mainly with nouns seems to be a default setting for teachers. Students in the beginning levels know so little that we can be tempted to just give them list after list of nouns. Unless we are focused on sharing thoughts and stories we will often veer into an over-emphasis on nouns. The vocabulary lists that we often ask students to memorize for level one are infamous: clothes, weather, school subjects, numbers, emotions and colors, to name a few.

The result is that students may remember a few objects, but they too often do not know how to talk about those objects in a coherent way. They may know the names of a few foods and drinks, but they cannot order coffee in Bogotá. They may know a few isolated greetings, but they will not be able to chat with someone on the train in Santiago. My friends, his ought not be.

So to avoid noun-based teaching and to give students a way to hear the colors in context in a way that uses some verbs, the following mini-stories are offered.


A couple of difficult color words for students tend to be morado (purple) and anaranjado (orange).  Get some fun repetitions with these words by setting up a volatile little scenario where these two colors have personalities:    

Morado is a pest and Anaranjado is grumpy.

Morado pesters Anaranjado and pushes him to cartoonish violence.

All of the students will act out the story on their own desks with little pieces of colored paper as the teacher narrates.

Students should know the verbs below before doing this mini-story. The first group are high frequency verbs and useful in any situation. The second group contains lower frequency verbs, but they are fun to use in the classroom because they add spice to stories.

Review and/or teach these verbs with classical TPR to prime students to hear and act out the stories below with the color squares on their desks.

se levanta                    stands up

levanta                         lifts, raises, picks up

anda                             walks

mira                             looks at

está contento               is happy

le dice                          says to him/her

toca                             touches


le pega                         hits him/it (You don’t hit girls, so “hits her” is not a translation we would ever use)

se ríe de                       laughs at                      

grita                             yells

tira                              throws

salta                             jumps on



Morado se levanta.                                                    Purple gets up.

Morado anda alrededor en el pupitre.                      Purple walks around on the desk.

Anaranjado se levanta también.                              Orange stands up too.


Morado mira a anaranjado.                                       Purple looks at orange.

Morado anda hacia anaranjado.                               Purple walks towards orange.


Morado le pega a anaranjado.                                   Purple hits orange.

Morado se ríe de anaranjado.                                   Purple laughs at orange.


Anaranjado se levanta.                                             Orange gets up/stands up.

Anaranjado no está contento.                                  Orange is not happy.

Anaranjado mira a morado.                                      Orange looks at purple.

Anaranjado anda hacia morado muy rápido.          Orange walks towards purple very quickly.


Anaranjado agarra a morado.                                   Orange grabs purple.

Anaranjado levanta a morado.                                 Orange lifts up purple.


Morado le grita “¡No, no, por favor, no!”                  Purple yells at him “No, no, please, no!”

Anaranjado se ríe de morado.                                   Orange laughs at purple.


¿Qué le grita anaranjado, clase?                             What does orange yell at him, class?

¡Correcto!  Anaranjado le grita “¡Sí, sí, sí!” ¡Correct! Orange yells “Yes, yes, yes!”


Morado grita  “¡No, no, por favor, no!”                     Purple yells, “No, no, please, no!”


Anaranjado tira morado al pupitre.             Orange throws purple on the desk.

Anaranjado salta en morado.                                    Orange jumps on purple.


¿Anaranjado salta en morado una vez?                  Does orange jump on purple one time?

 (Students will say “No!” so ask…)

¿Cuántas veces salta anaranjado en morado?      

How many times does orange jump on purple?

(Ask students this question, wait for answers, and say “correcto” when a number between 6 & 15 is suggested. Then have orange jump on purple. Count out loud with your students as orange jumps.)

¡Correcto!  Anaranjado salta en morado siete veces.   Correct! Orange jumps on purple 7 times.



Clase, ¿Cuál color es bueno, amarillo o verde?    Which color is good, yellow or green?

(Let them choose between just those two options. Yellow and green are also harder colors for students to learn. In the micro story below, yellow is the good color that comforts purple from the previous story.)

For this tiny story, it is helpful for students to know:                hacia               towards


Amarillo mira a pobre morado.                                 Yellow looks at poor purple.

Amarillo anda hacia morado.                                   Yellow walks towards purple.

Amarillo le toca a morado suave.                             Yellow touches purple softly.


Amarillo le dice a morado: ─Está bien, morado.     Yellow says to purple, “It’s OK, purple.”

Amarillo le dice: ─Anaranjado es tonto.                  Yellow says to him, “Orange is stupid.”



(Students will need more repetitions with anaranjado. In this little story anaranjado is the pesky one, but this time it is not bothering another color, this time it is bothering the students.)

 For this tiny story, it is helpful for students to know;

 alrededor                    around

hacia                           towards


Anaranjado está en el pupitre.                                 Orange is on the desk.

Anaranjado se levanta.                                             Orange stands up.


Anaranjado mira alrededor.                                      Orange looks around.

Anaranjado anda alrededor.                                      Orange walks around.


Anaranjado mira tu pierna.                                      Orange looks at your leg.

Anaranjado anda hacia tu pierna.                           Orange walks toward your leg.


Anaranjado salta y anda en tu pierna.                    Orange jumps and walks on your leg.

Anaranjado te toca la pierna.                                   Orange touches your leg.

            (Ask the students about the way orange is touching your leg.)

¿Anaranjado te toca la pierna? ¿Sí o no?              Does orange touch your leg?

¿Anaranjado te toca la pierna suave o fuerte?      Does orange touch your leg softly or hard?

¿Anaranjado te toca la pierna mucho o un poco? Does orange touch your leg a lot or a little?

(Use student responses and restate their answers.)

Anaranjado te toca la pierna suave y te toca la pierna mucho.

Tú gritas:                                                                    You yell (as if orange were a bad dog):

¡Anaranjado!  ¡No me toques!                                   Orange!  Don’t touch me!  (Good expression)

“¡No me toques la pierna, Anaranjado!”                   Don’t touch my leg, Orange!


Word Count in the three stories:  “Anaranjado” 34 times; “Morado” 20 times; “Amarillo” 6 times.