Colors, Colors Everywhere: Poems & Writing Exercises for Kids


Colors are everywhere in our world.

From my office on the second floor of the UA Poetry Center, I can see the library’s tan book shelves and crimson chairs, and the burnt orange spines of an encyclopedia set. If I look a bit farther--through the windows that encase the building—I can see brick red buildings, slate monsoon clouds and leaves in two different shades of green: mantis and dusty myrtle. And, in the office itself, I can gaze up at silk cherry blossom flowers or use my favorite teal pencil to write to-do lists. I can also pull the two Writing the Community anthologies—When I Go Very Far I Glow and A Dog Barking At a Red Door That Goes Nowhere—off the shelf, and read poems about purple and blue, black and rainbow written by local K-12 students.

I’ve chosen seven of these poems to share with you, along with some fun facts and writing prompts related to color. Let’s start with pink!

Pink Fluffy Hair
by Jaime Mejia

My pink fluffy hair is cotton candy
Soft, smooth, and colorful
The smell of sugar runs through
my strands

Jaime’s not alone in associating pink with sweet foods—in fact, lots of people do! Pink is a popular color for sugary treats like strawberry ice cream, conchas rosas, and chi chi dango, rice flour candies popular in Hawaii. Do you have a favorite pink-hued treat? Try writing an ode to it!

The Purple Traveler
by Abigail Salazar

Purple glass bottle
Purple diaper
Purple trash
Purple sea
Purple isn’t trash
Purple is particles
Purples is the sea
Purple is a book
Purple is fish
Purple is a paper that was written on.
Purple is a marker that
was used and now is in
the sea
Purple is YOU!

While most people think violet and purple are interchangeable, they’re actually quite different. Violet is a shade on the visible color spectrum, while purple is made by combining blue and red. Write two four-line poems, one where each line starts with “Blue is” and another where each line starts with “Red is”. Then put your poems side-by-side and combine them to make a “Purple is” poem. Here’s an example of what one line could look like:

“Red is a wheelbarrow full of stop signs” + “Blue is a delicious blueberry” = “Purple is a delicious wheelbarrow, full of blueberry stop signs.”

In “The Purple Traveler” Abigail writes: “Purples is the sea.” Usually we think of the sea as blue, but did you know that the color blue is a fairly recent phenomenon? Blue is not mentioned a single time in ancient books like the Iliad, the Icelandic Sagas, the Vedic Hymns or the Hebrew Bible. Scientists theorize that one of the reasons for this is that words for color come about when humans figure out how to make those colors, and blue was one of the last pigments to be developed. Imagine being alive thousands of years ago, looking up at the sky, and not seeing blue!

Everything is Blue
by Betsy Flores

Everything is blue, my hair
The sky
My emotions
My teachers
The sky
The top of the world
My teachers
My blue tears that run down my rosy pink cheeks
The top of the world
My clothes
My blue tears that run down my rosy pink cheeks.
The veins in my body.

Blue is often considered a sad color, an emotion Betsy invokes by writing, “My blue tears run down my rosy pink cheeks.” But blue doesn’t always have to be melancholy! Write a happy blue poem, describing all the wonderful feelings and memories that blue evokes.

“Dear Always Greener”
by Eduardo Urquidez

Dear Always Greener,

Your greenness reminds
me of animals in nature
you help plants grow
and help animals exist
without green they would
be extinct in the world

Your smell is like
a hint of mint
but why are you so green
in mint ice cream
crocs are greener
then gators but
they are both
major predators

Eduardo’s poem connects green to plants and animals with powerful imagery. Green is a common color in the natural world—plants are green because they contain chlorophyll, a chemical used in photosynthesis; and many animals are green because the color allows them to camouflage, or blend in with, their surroundings.

Green has many associations beyond nature: In the United States green is associated with money, in Ancient Egypt the living and the dead wore green makeup to ward off evil, and English playwright William Shakespeare used the color green to denote jealousy. What else do you think of when you think of green? Write a poem starts with a line from Eduardo’s poem: “Your greenness reminds me of …” but try not to write about nature. Instead, focus on other images and ideas that come to mind when you think of green.

by Selvin Ham

Fritos are brown
Their brown is light
Kind of like ochre
Makes me feel scared

Their brown is light
They’re creepy as a zombie
Makes me feel scared
They sleep a lot

Their creepy as a zombie
They write in cursive
They sleep a lot
At day they sleep

There are so many shades of brown in the world, and most of them have cool stories associated with their names! “Khaki” comes from the Persian word for earth, while sienna—a type of ochre--is named after the soil color near Sienna, Italy. Russet takes its name from a coarse homespun cloth, while chocolate brown is the same shade as the delicious Mesoamerican treat. Write a list poem, listing as many shades of brown as you can think of. Feel free to invent your own! And if you need inspiration, look around your house or out the window—there’s brown everywhere.

The Wonders of Black
by Jose Cardenas

Black looks like brand new tires.
It’s a freshly paved road.
Black is a panther big and dark.

The smell of fire triggering smoke.
Burnt toast is black in ways.
The aroma is burnt rubber.

The sound of bats in a cave.
A pitch black hole the quietness echoes the crowing of crows in
the distance.
The Oreos being dipped in milk.
Mmmm sweet black berries.
It tastes like chocolate so sweet.

The darkness creeping kids at dawn.
The touch of a bonfire is so hot.

Jose’s poem references burnt toast and rubber, as well as a bonfire. Did you know that in many languages, including Proto-Germanic, Latin, and Ancient Greek, the word for black derived from words for “burnt,” “to blaze,” and “to burn”?

Black ink was invented in Ancient China and India, and is the most common color used in printed books and newspapers because it is incredibly visible against white paper. Find a pen that isn’t black—it could be red, blue, green, pink or any other color—and use it to write a poem about the color black.

Black is the absence of color, but a spectrum of all the colors is called a …

by Jessica Suarez

The animal I am colors
the blue dark night.

The animal I am kicks
the glitter bag and makes it shine
like god.

The animal I am stings
like a bee.

The animal I am dances
like a kangaroo.

The animal I am grows
off candy.

Some people say that leprechauns hide pots of gold at the end of rainbows. What would you hide at the end of a rainbow? Write a poem about it. 

Wren Awry is the K-12 Education Coordinator at the UA Poetry Center.