Teaching colors

I read an article recently about how hard it is to teach colors to children because color is everywhere and hard to separate from other aspects, or even other colors. If you say, “The red balloon,” the child has no idea that you’re talking about color specifically rather than other aspects, like its roundness, its floatiness, its rubberiness, etc. The article claimed that there are sometimes kids of six or seven who don’t completely have their colors sorted out yet.

The article kind of baffled me because I haven’t really had trouble teaching colors to my kids. I just find objects that come a) in identical shapes, b) in varying colors, and c) in solid colors (so no bit of green on the red object, for instance). Colored blocks work great (as long as they’re all the same shape), as do game pieces, Tupperware bell tumblers, Candyland cards, etc.

Group all the red objects in one pile and all the blue objects in another. I never teach more than four colors at once. Point to the red pile say “red.” Then name each object and say, “The block is red. Red block. The cup is red. Red cup. The ball is red. Red ball.” Then do the same for the blues. Remove one object from a pile and hand it to your child. Ask, “Where does it go? Is it red? Or blue?”

If the child gets it right, praise him or her and choose another object to sort. If the child gets it wrong, say, “No, it’s blue,” and place it in the correct pile yourself. After a while, you’ll find that they get it right more often than not.

Just now, El Guapo and I played with Candyland cards for over 20 minutes. He was fascinated. He kept collecting all the orange cards, and he could identify red cards, though he called them blue. A pretty good start, I say.

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