Thomas & Friends Autism Collection | Color Recognition Activity
Color identification is an important skill for school and life. Let Thomas and his colorful friends help your students with ASD learn how to identify and name colors. Use this activity when working one-to-one with your students.
Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have an interest in trains, and are enthralled by their motion, predictable patterns, complex schedules, and maps. Research shows that Thomas the Tank Engine from the beloved PBS KIDS series Thomas & Friends is a favorite character among children with autism.
This one-to-one color recognition activity can be used in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and discrete trial/ABA (applied behavior analysis) instruction. Because learners with ASD can range from cognitively delayed to gifted, this activity includes a few suggested modifications for children who need more support, as well as extensions for those who are ready to take on more challenges.
Watch the video: As students watch the video clip above, point out the colors of the trains.
Set up the game: Lay one set of cards (also found in the "Student Handout" section) so they are showing -face up on the table. Stack the other set of cards face down in one pile. Explain to the child that you are going to play a matching game. You will take turns picking up a card from the face-down pile. Each player has to find the matching engine card on the table and place it on top of that card.
Identify the colors of the engines: With the cards still on the table, model first how to pick up a card and identify the color. [Please note: the Thomas & Friends engines include accent colors (e.g., red and black). Therefore, when naming the color of the character, you may want to point to the sides of the engine to identify its main color.] After modeling the process, invite the child to try. For example, ask: "What color is Percy (pointing to the sides of Percy's face)?" The child should do his/her best to say the color name out loud. Continue doing this for all the engines on the table. Some students with ASD might have trouble answering these direct questions. If so, use inviting language such as "I wonder what color Percy is..." and move the card next to the cards that are face-up. If students are difficult to engage, you might try matching colors incorrectly, laughing and modeling, "Percy is not red, Percy is green!" These strategies can help model language and increase student comfort.
Sort the colors: Explain to the child that it's now time to sort all the engines. Prompt the child for each engine's color and name, and then put the card into its appropriate pile. (Note: Some engines will be by themselves!)
If the child is struggling with the matching game, ask him/her to tape or glue the engine cards to matching pieces of colored construction paper. This will help the child isolate the color first, with minimal distractions.
You can make the game easier by reducing the number of cards in play. Begin with six cards that represent three different colors. Say the colors aloud as you take turns matching the engines to the colored paper. As the child gains understanding, increase the number of cards and colors.
Extend this Activity:
Once the child becomes comfortable identifying colors, play an alternate version of the game. Shuffle both sets of cards and place them face down on the table. Take turns flipping over two cards at a time, searching for a match. Each time you flip a card, prompt the child to say the engine’s name and color out loud. If you make a match, pick up the cards; if not, flip them back over.