Students select circuits
I have students look through many books for circuits they'd like to build. I use the Forrest M. Mims books one can get at Radio Shack, and old books from the 70s and 80s that include simple IC circuits. Sometimes a student picks a circuit that is too simple or too complex. I could instead hand out sheets that contained only the right level of circuits, but then the students wouldn't have the experience of seeing the range and learning that such-and-such circuit is not a good starter.
Learning the resistor color code is related to learning the system of scientific notation. By keeping resistors sorted by the last color in the color bands on them, students learn how the power of 10 is the most significant part of the measurement.
To be able to place ICs in circuits, students need to learn to identify the pins of the IC. The basic rule is that pin one starts CCW from the indentation or hole on one side of the chip and the count goes CCW from there. Another important thing to learn about ICs is that improper connections can fry them, without there being any visual evidence. If a circuit isn't working, one can replace the IC to see if it is the problem.