Identifying colors is a skill we expect children to develop in the preschool years. Here is a simple game you can make to help children master the first step of color recognition, which is color sorting.
You will need:
- White poster board, approximately 22 inches by 14 inches
- Markers in primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary (purple, green, orange) colors
- A round shape to trace (I used a small plate)
- A variety of safe objects in primary and secondary colors
- On one side of the poster board, trace three evenly spaced circles and use markers to color them in primary colors, red, blue and yellow.
On the other side of the board, trace six evenly spaced circles and use markers to color them in primary and secondary colors, red, blue, yellow, purple, green and orange.
You can cover your board with clear contact paper or have it laminated to make it more durable.
For a young toddler, start with just the primary color side of the board and provide a variety of safe objects in those colors. Show your toddler how to put all the yellow objects on the yellow circle, red on the red circle and blue on the blue circle. If your toddler puts the wrong color on a circle, that’s OK. It just means he or she needs more practice or more eye development to be able to tell the colors apart. When your child is able to sort the primary colors, you can switch to the other side and add the secondary colors.
What Your Child Will Learn
This activity will help your child practice the first step of color identification, which is sorting colors into groups.
Make sure the colored objects you choose are safe — big enough to prevent choking, no sharp edges, and non toxic paint.
Be patient! Learning colors is a multi-step process that takes time. We typically don’t expect a child to be able to name colors until about age three. Even though your child will have words for colors and may point to something and say, “blue” (even if the object is actually red), it may not mean he or she associates the word with the correct color.
When you call attention to colors, instead of pointing to a blue car and just saying, “blue”, say “That’s a car; it’s blue. “ This helps children understand that the name of the object stays the same, even though the color may be different. If your child points to an object and incorrectly names the color, avoid giving a negative response. Instead of saying, “No, your shirt is not yellow,” simply say, “Your shirt is blue, but the ball over there is yellow.”
With positive encouragement and lots of practice, your child will be on the way to being a color expert in no time. Once that happens, you’ll have to figure out how to explain why purple is not a “girl” color!