Five Colorful Counseling Activities

Do you ever stop to think how color impacts our lives and our moods? Do you notice if your students respond differently to various colors? Before I introduce five fun color activities for children, I’d like to take a moment to explore what color might mean for you. Are you attracted to certain colors? Do particular colors bring up past memories? What colors do you wear the most? What color is your office?

My mood is definitely affected by the colors that surround me in my everyday life. My office is decorated using reds, yellows and blues. This is where I am able to tap into my creative energy. While my office is vibrant and full of life, my bedroom is painted a calm grey/green tone with linen drapes and crisp white bedding. It is my sanctuary after a long, active day. Through my work as both a teacher and school counselor, I’ve noticed how well children connect with color. A recent study in the United States showed that school children instinctively chose a yellow crayon to sketch a happy story and a brown one to sketch a sad one.

My Early Childhood Color Story

When you think back to your childhood, what color stands out to you? While the majority of my friends were obsessed with pink, I was obsessed with the color yellow. My first memory of my parent’s car was that it was gold, but I called it YELLOW. My favorite food was YELLOW bananas. My favorite character on Sesame Street was YELLOW big bird. I also remember my attempt to run away from home. The only thing I grabbed on my way out the door was my favorite YELLOW dress. Even as an adult the color yellow brings me joy. I decided to do a little research on the meaning of different colors. Did the color yellow accurately represent my personality/temperament as a child? Does the color yellow still fit with who I am today? Before you read the color definitions, take a moment to think about what your favorite color was as a child. What memories do you associate with that color? What is your favorite color today?

What Your Favorite Color Says about You written by Amy Patterson

Everyone has a favorite color or two. But not everyone knows that it may have a deeper meaning. Below is a list of colors and what they may mean about you!

White

White is sometimes considered “boring”, or not even a color at all. But it actually is a very pure color and represents innocence and youth and the simple things in life. White is often associated with being pure, clean, fresh and good. Hollywood often portrays their characters in white as being good; the white horse, the cowboy with the white hat, the white wizard etc. White usually is associated with being pure and almost heavenly. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and heaven.

Red

Red is a very aggressive color. People who love the color red are usually very outgoing and aggressive. But they can also be very abrupt and judge people. They love life and are never pessimistic. On the other hand, quiet people that love red may want to be more outgoing, or they may just need the strength of the bold color. Red is a very strong color. It is a noticeable color that is often used on caution and warning signs. It’s a hot color that evokes a powerful emotion of passion, energy, blood and war. Red is often used in flags for nations, as it is a symbol of pride and strength. It is also a sporty color that many car manufactures choose to showcase their signature vehicles.

Pink

Pink is usually known as the favorite color of vain women. The ones that love shopping and all things girly. But the color pink is actually the favorite color of maternal, caring women. They require lots of attention and affection, but they love to return the same affection to others.

Orange

Orange is the color of socialites. Those that love orange usually love to be dramatic when telling stories. They tend to be very popular and also curious. Orange is a combination of Red and Yellow. It is also a bright and warm color. It represents fire, the sun, fun, warmth and tropical images. It is considered a fun light color that has appetizing qualities to it. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain and stimulates mental activity.

Yellow

Yellow is the color of those that have a sunny outlook on life. These people usually have a great sense of humor and are clear headed. They love to learn and are very intellectual and are great at owning or leading businesses. Yellow is the brightest color to the human eye. It represents youth, fun, happiness, sunshine and other light playful feelings. It is a cheerful energetic color.

Green

The color green is a symbol for peace and hope. People that like the color green are usually very gentle souls, but they can also be very open and honest. They love their community and the people in it and do whatever they can to help. Green is the color of nature and health. It represents growth, nature, money, fertility and safety. Green is a relaxing color that is easy on the eye and has a healing power to it. It is often used to represent anything having to do with health. Many pharmaceutical and nutritional companies use green in their logos and material to advertise safe natural products.

Blue

The color blue represents compassion and patience. People that love blue often have lots of self-control. They tend to be very wise and don’t like wild, flamboyant behavior. Blue is a cool calming color that shows creativity and intelligence. It is a popular color among large corporations, hospitals and airlines. It is a color of loyalty, strength, wisdom and trust. Blue has a calming effect on the psyche. Blue is the color of the sky and the sea and is often used to represent those images.

Purple

People that like the color purple are usually unique individuals that don’t like to follow the crowd. They can be very temperamental. They are usually artistic and sarcastic. Those that choose purple are also likely to be chosen for authority positions. Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Throughout history purple has been associated with royalty, nobility and prestige. It symbolizes mystery, magic, power and luxury.

Brown

People that choose the color Brown are often very patient, responsible, and dependable. They usually think everything through, rather than doing things on impulse. Due to this, they tend to not be very flexible when it comes to changing plans.

Grey

Grey is the color of people that love compromise. They tend to work too much but have great business skills. They like to run life with routine.

Black

The color black is very dignified without being too flashy. People that love the color black (or even wear it often) want to look mysterious to others. But they may be hiding other feelings. Black is often a color used to portray something evil, depressing, scary or even death in western civilization. It has negative imagery with it at times such as “black mail” “black list” “black hole” etc. Black is also a very powerful color that also portrays one of class elegance and wealth.

My Adult Color Story

After my research on color, I thought back to my previous morning interaction with my husband. What did color mean in my work and marriage?

As my patient husband (wearing a blue t-shirt) slaved away in the kitchen preparing breakfast, I slaved away in my closet deciding what to wear. My first attempt was a simple black dress. While it was comfortable and classy, it left me feeling a little blah. A feminine pink and grey floral maxi dress also caught my eye. Though it was soft and precious, it did not inspire me to be creative for the day. Finally, I spotted the right combination that would provide me with a huge dose of inspiration. I paired my favorite white tank top with a bright tangerine orange skirt and turquoise necklace. I felt clear, creative, and mentally alert! During our breakfast conversation, my husband commented that I looked vibrant and ready for work. I noticed that he looked calm and relaxed as usual. He informed me his day had the potential to be pretty stressful. It is interesting that he chose a blue t-shirt. Could it be that my strange obsession with color and mood had rubbed off on him? Did he realize that he was managing his mood by picking a calming color to wear during a stressful event? The more I thought about it I realized that he wore blue or green almost every day. Either his job is more stressful than I realized or he is attempting to find balance in our relationship. What does that say about me, I wondered, and my affect on him!  What color do you wear? What color do other people in your life wear?

Using Color with Children

 Activity 1: Color Journal

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss is a great starting point! This simple, but colorful book, explores the different moods associated with different colors. After reading the story, I help my students make their own color book. I take several sheets of paper, fold them in half, and staple the spine to make individual color books. It is easy to adapt this activity for different ages. When working with younger students, I simply have them use a crayon matching the color word to draw how yellow feels, etc. For older students they might draw how they feel on a yellow day. What events make them feel yellow? Do they have any yellow memories? You could also use this activity for journaling. Today, what color or colors are you feeling? Remind students that sometimes we feel a variety of different colors/moods throughout our day. What color were you this morning? Did your color change and what did it change to? What event changed your color? Did you want to change colors? Is there anything you could have done to prevent changing colors? Were you able to change back to your color of choice and how did you do it? This is a great activity for teaching students how to manage their emotions and how to take ownership of their feelings and how they react to feelings.

Activity 2: Measuring Mood with Moody Beans

This is a fun and effective visual for students who are working on managing their emotions. I find this activity especially helpful when working with my less verbal students. I take beans and color them a variety of colors using a permanent marker. Since color means different things to different people, I like to ask the students what each color means to them. If they are not able to verbalize their connection with color then I provide them with the language. I like to start with only a few colors in the beginning and then work my way up to more advanced colors/feelings. I normally begin with red and yellow. Example: Many times red is associated with anger because it is an intense color and is the shade of fire. Also, I see the color red as a signal to stop and think about why I am feeling angry. Remember, stop signs and other warning signs are red. So, when you are angry the color red warns you to stop and think! Many times the color yellow is associated with happiness because it is a fun, bright color and is the shade of the sun.

Activity 3: Color Check using Moody Beans

 

When a student comes into your office instruct him or her to pick their moody beans. Remind students that they might be experiencing more than one emotion and they might be experiencing one emotion stronger than the other. If a child is really angry, he or she might pick up ten red beans and one blue bean. This activity is a great conversation starter and sends you a strong message on the emotional state of your student. When your session is complete you may ask the student to pick some more moody beans. What beans do they have now? Do they look different? What is different? Did talking help? Maybe you used a stress ball or other stress reducing activity? I then ask the student what emotion they’d like to experience for the rest of the school day. Hopefully, they will want to be either happy or relaxed. I then send some beans of that color with the student as a reminder of their goal mood for the day. If they begin feeling an emotion that will get them into trouble or interfere with learning then the beans signal the student to use his or her de escalation strategies.

Activity 4: Color Stress Test

Another tool that connects color with a child’s emotional state is Kids Stress Test cards. I ordered these cards from http://www.stressmarket.com The child places his or her thumb on a heat sensing strip in the middle of the card. If the strip turns black then the child is tense. If the strip turns red then the child is upset. If the strip turns green then the child is calm, easy, and nice. If the strip turns blue then the child is relaxed, peaceful, and happy. I like to use these cards in a stress management group or anger group. I ask the students to check their mood when they enter the office. After we talk and practice stress reducing strategies (stress balls, breathing, counting, drawing, etc.) then we recheck our mood.

Activity 5: Paint Color Sample

Read my previous blog, Save with Samples, to get ideas on how to use color samples for managing moods.