Color Coding Ideas for the Classroom (Why Teachers Love It!)


Written by Natalie

Why do teachers love color coding in the classroom?

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From a beautiful pack of colorful Sharpies to using highlighters to color-code tasks in your teacher planner – we all have a bit of an obsession with color, don’t we? I even asked our Instagram teaching community if they LOVE color coding and out of 259 respondents, a massive 84% said: “You bet!” So, if you are one of the many teachers that love a bit of color in their lives – this blog featuring color-coding ideas for the classroom is a must-read! / ShutterStockStudio

Apart from the fact that color-coding makes things look pretty, research has shown that color-coding helps the brain by increasing recognition and recall of information. So, apart from it being a little bit of fun for students to highlight those nouns, there is actually proven evidence to state this is helpful for your students!

Inspirational Color-Coding Ideas for the Classroom

The sky’s the limit with color-coding in the classroom… activities, displays, hands-on learning, and worksheets! So, hold on to your highlighters… here are some super awesome color-coding ideas for the classroom!

Color-Coding Classroom Displays

Using color when designing your classroom displays is one way you can incorporate the use of color in your classroom to help students recall and recognize the information. For example, you may be teaching your little learners about nouns, verbs, and adjectives! By displaying this poster that has the word ‘adjective’ in red and an example of adjectives on red paper, you’re instantly associating adjectives with the color red.

You can then do a follow-up activity where your students underline all the adjectives on a piece of text with a red marker!

Here are some other posters where color can be used as a learning tool:

Color-Coding on Worksheets

Another way to use color-coding in student activities is to use colorful highlighters for particular words or parts of information. Make boring old worksheets more engaging by incorporating the use of color! Plus, students love using highlighters so it’s a win-win really!

In this example, we have used our Monitoring Comprehension Worksheet and used different colors for each symbol featured on the worksheet!

Make it even easier by sticking a word on each highlighter so they know what the color is used for…

Here are some other examples of worksheets where you can use color:

Color-Code Small Group Organization

Make group work, Literacy groups, or Math rotations that much easier by incorporating color into the organization!

We have used our Fruit Grouping Posters and Fruit Tray Labels to label these folders and task card containers – all in the same color. This allows for a more seamless collection of activities for each rotation. For example, the Apples group will always know to get the green folder or green task card container!

Small additions of color to group organization can make a huge difference when it comes to classroom management.

Colourful group organisation in the classroom

Color-Coding Student Journals

Color dots on books! Works marvelously, especially in the primary grades when you are trying to identify a variety of student journals.

For example, add the same colored dot on all of your students’ Reading journals, let’s say – yellow! This journal then becomes their ‘yellow dot’ journal and they will easily be able to see it and get it out rather than spending time looking through their desk. And we know how long that can take!

Colourful sticker dots for classroom organisation

You can purchase a variety of colored dots or labels from an office supply store or the Dollar store.

Using Colors for Phonics Instruction

During phonics instruction – you may find using a different color for a particular digraph or grapheme may assist your students to identify it more easily. For example, in these flashcards, the digraph that each set of task cards is focusing on is red. This makes it visually easier for the students to see the two letters that come together to make that particular phoneme.

Here are some of the sets of these task cards:

Here’s another example of how color can be used for phonics instruction by using blue and red whiteboard markers to show the two different ways to spell the b sound on a mini whiteboard. / Nilobon Sweeney

Traffic Light Colors

The use of red, green, and yellow is often used in the classroom due to its instant recognition of red – stop,  green – go, and yellow – pause!

We recently featured this idea in our Classroom Management Hacks Blog and love the simplicity of the concept and the use of color.

Thanks to the wonderful @thekozyclassroom for this awesome idea!!

Color-Coding Those Glue Stick Lids!

Ok, this one is for a bit of fun – but really does serve a purpose! Prevent those glue lids falling into that black hole in the classroom by color-coding them with colored sticky dots!

Thanks to @teachingwithmissle for this awesome photo and idea!

Keep it Simple!

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of color-coding everything! Be careful not to overcomplicate it for your students. Always make sure it is helping your students rather than confusing them! And, one more point: colors should remain consistent. For example, if you picked red to identify adjectives – red should always be identified as the color for adjectives throughout the school year!

Share your color-coding ideas in the comments section of this blog!

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