Rainbow Play Dough Color Matching Caterpillar

Color recognition is a basic skill for toddlers that can easily be integrated into a variety of ways to practice.  A hands-on repetitive activity helps to increase recognition while building on new vocabulary.  As we’ve learned about the colors of the rainbow and now moved on to exploring bugs, I decided to combine both topics with a rainbow play dough color matching caterpillar activity for my toddler.

This color matching activity is a tactile way to combine color recognition with fine motor practice as children will identify, sort, and use their fingers as pincers to push the colorful beads into the play dough caterpillar. It would also be great for your preschool butterfly theme.

Rainbow Play Dough Color Matching Activity-Toddler and preschool fine motor activity. Perfect for your preschool insect or butterfly theme for spring

Materials Needed

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We started out this activity by sorting out the pony beads by color.  I used an egg carton to hold our rainbow of colors.  As expected from a toddler, my little one initially tried to grab a handful of beads and drop them all into the container!  Once I showed her how to carefully select one color with her fingers and place it in the tray according to colors, she took more care to individually match the colors.  This sorting activity was a great way to review colors and apply the new skill of color matching.

Once the beads were sorted into a rainbow of colors, decorating the caterpillar could begin.

Color Matching Caterpillar Invitation

I instructed her to match each bead to the color on the caterpillar.  She loved squishing the beads onto the caterpillar.  As her little fingers poked each bead onto the play dough, we would say the color together aloud.

Preschool Insect Theme Activity-Caterpillar Color Matching

She was quite proud of her rainbow insect’s new decorations and would shout, “Yay!” each time she correctly matched a color.

Preschool Insect Theme Activity-Caterpillar Color Matching

Although she’s not quite able to pronounce indigo yet, I know we are getting there and this color matching activity definitely helped in giving her the repetitive practice she needed!  I can only imagine this caterpillar would morph into a beautiful rainbow butterfly!

What are some fun hands-on ways you like to introduce colors to your little ones?

Get a Full Week of Caterpillar and Butterfly Theme Learning and Play

Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.


This set includes active hands-on learning ideas and the following printables:

1) Butterfly Life Cycle Roll and Graph Game
2) Butterfly Life Cycle Roll and Graph Game
3) Caterpillar Uppercase Alphabet Cards
4) Butterfly Lowercase Alphabet Cards
5) Butterfly Life Cycle Cards
6) Butterfly Symmetry Matching Cards
7) Butterfly Life Cycle Word Building Mats
8) Caterpillar Measurement Recording Sheet
9) Caterpillar Patterning Activity
10) Caterpillar Syllable Sort
11) Caterpillar Egg Leaf Counting Mats (Numbers 1-10)

Get Your Lesson Plans

Home Preschool Butterfly  Theme Lesson Plans

Preschool Classroom Butterfly Theme Lesson Plans

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  1. I’m totally doing this with my almost 3 year old! She’s already really good at naming all her colors, but this will just be extra practice and help with fine-motor skills!!

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