Ideas for whānau to help support the developmental stages children move through as they learn about colours.

Children move through a number of stages as they learn about colours. The first thing they learn to do is to match things that are the same colour. Later, they are able to point and name a colour. Then they reach the stage of being able to identify and use the name of the colour themselves. For example, they’ll be able to say, ‘That’s a red car’.

Ask whānau:

  • What have you noticed about your child’s awareness of colour?
  • Do you think they could match things that are the same colour?

Puzzles and matching colours

Libraries often have selections of puzzles you can borrow, which are suitable for this age group. These puzzles are likely to include some simple colour matching ones.

Ask whānau:

  • Have you been to your local library?
  • Have you had a chance to look at their puzzles?

It might be worthwhile checking out the puzzles in local op shops too. Once children have repeatedly solved a puzzle they may lose interest in it. This is why it’s not worth spending a lot of money on simple puzzles.

  • What do you have in the house that your tamaiti could use to practise colour matching? This could include milk bottle tops, pegs, shoes, socks and play dough.

Whānau could try helping their child to match colours in any of the following ways.

  • Show and talk about one colour at a time, 'Look at all these blue milk bottle tops. Let’s find some more blue things and put them together in a pile.'
  • Say, 'Here’s your yellow sock. Can you find a yellow peg to hang it up with?' Then choose another colour and repeat the process.
  • Have a colour for the day and point out when that colour appears throughout the day. Look at food, clothing, toys, crayons, paints, play dough and cars, identifying the colour.
  • Book sharing can be a great opportunity for colour finding. 'Can you see something yellow on this page?'
  • During book sharing, ask 'What colour is this?'
  • Read books about colours.
  • Play I spy colours both indoors and outside. For example, 'I spy with my little eye something that’s green'.
  • Add a couple of drops of food colouring in their bathwater. This might be a fun way to have a colour focus. It doesn’t seem to permanently colour the bath or the child.
  • Identify and use the names of colours in everyday ways. 'Would you like a drink in the blue cup or the red one?'
  • Make a colour collage — cut or tear pictures out of old magazines and glue pieces of the same colour onto a page.
  • Choose a colour and go for a walk to look for things of that colour.
  • Use an eye dropper to mix food colouring into small amounts of water in a muffin tin or ice cube tray. The colours can be dripped onto a paper towel, which when dry can be used as wrapping paper or taped to a window for a stained glass effect.