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Teaching recognition of colours

As a general rule always plan for your child to succeed by giving an example, limit choices and build slowly, praise effort and success.

1. Start with your child’s favourite colour or the colour of something significant in your child’s life, e.g. your car. Talk about the colour of the object, e.g. “We are going in Mummy’s red car. Daddy’s car is not red”. All other colours are “not” the chosen colour.

2. Talk only about this colour: “Look here is a red peg” or “That one is not red.” At this stage don’t test your child, just highlight the word and concept.

3. Once your child can match colour put the red one with the red one, try sorting colours.

4. Using only 2 colours sort the objects into coloured bowls, e.g. “Put the red pegs together”, (that one is not red).

5. Once they can sort like objects, e.g. pegs, try sorting different objects that are the same colour. Find objects around the house the same colour. Give your child a sample to carry around with them. “Here is a red one, find something else red.”

6. Try a treasure hunt game. “See I have a red peg. Can you find something else red / or not red”. Make up a book of all red pictures.

7. Only start another colour when your child is confident identifying their favourite colour when out and about.

Later you can try some other colour sorting activities. Here are some ideas to help your child learn to recognise colours.

1. Make up a colour booklet using an old scrapbook.

  • Encourage your child to fill each new page with a different colour. Use cut outs from magazines, bits of material, crayons and coloured pencils.
  • Make up pages of two colours, three colours, four colours and five colours.
  • Encourage your child to point to specific colours in his or her colour book. Show an example first. “Here is a red plane. What colour is this one (red)?”
  • Let your child select their favourite colour in a book.
  • Use photographs of objects familiar to your child identified by colour, e.g. the blue car, red letterbox.
  • Let your child label colours in book and you can write the words for them.
  • Ask your child to point to colours which are the same or different.
  • Some activities that require colour matching:
  • Textas often come with lids and bases the same colour.
  • Tea sets (children’s).

2. Make up simple colour lotto board and corresponding lotto cards.

  • Play games that need the players to match colours.
  • Use the cards to select colours.
  • Help your child label the colours. Firstly give your child a prompt “Which one is blue?” Start with a choice of 2 then move to 3 when they are more confident.

The information in Learning Links’ Tip Sheets is prepared by experienced early childhood professionals. Each child is unique and this material is not necessarily suitable for every child, parent or carer.
We recommend you discuss this information with your child’s therapist or education professional
prior to using these tips.