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Spring 2001

Liz Palmer: Teaching colours to toddlers

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Between the ages of 1 and 2, depending on your child's development, you will want to start teaching your toddler about colours.  Learning about colours will help your child to recognise different objects of the same shape and size.  And guess what?  It's also fun.

One of the easiest ways to start teaching your toddler colours is through his blocks.  Most toddlers have some form of blocks, whether mega blocks, plastic blocks or wooden blocks.  These blocks usually come in bright primary colours, which are easy to recognise.

Sit down with your toddler and his blocks and start to organise blocks in different groups according to their colour.  Do it by yourself for a while until he gets the idea.  Start to give him blocks and see if he knows which groups to put them in.  Say the name of the colour as you give him the block and as he puts it in the group.  If he puts it in the wrong group, remove it and place it in the right group, while saying the name of the colour again.  If he has trouble doing this, give it up for the day and try again later.  He may not be in the mood.

Start to call things by their colour during the day.  While walking to the shops, point out the colour of cars.  While handling objects in the house, mention their colour.  If your child says words for certain things (for example: ball), ask afterwards "What colour is the (ball)?".  Then say "The (ball) is blue."  Your toddler may seem to pay no attention to these colour words, but gradually it will be sinking in.

Spend some time either painting or drawing with your child.  Talk about the colours that you use.  Keep up a constant dialogue on the colours you are using, the colours your child is using and why you are using certain colours for certain things.  Example:  I'm using a yellow crayon.  You have a red crayon.  I might colour in the flowers yellow because flowers are usually yellow.  It doesn't matter if your child doesn't understand everything you are saying, they will get the general gist.

These are fairly basic steps to take when teaching your toddler colours.  As your child gains a better grasp of colours, you will then be able to progress to different shades and other more advanced activities.

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