Learning Colours

Did you know that babies can see colour as well as adults from around the age of 6 months? They can see it, but don’t understand that colour is a quality of an item (ie something that describes that item). So sometimes we will give the child a lid like the little girl is holding and tell her that it is a lid, another time we tell her it is plastic, another time we tell her it is round, another time we tell her it is small, another time we tell her it is red, another time we tell her it is hard…and so when we say, “What colour is this?” the child often just says the first colour name that pops into her head! To help children understand this, try to always say the quality and the name of the item eg “This is a red lid” or “This is a round lid”.


The ability to match colours comes before the ability to name colours, so matching activities are important from around the age of 2. The activity shown here is made from egg tray strips, blobs of colour from magazines, and cold drink lids. The teacher has asked the children to find which house each lid lives in. She names the colours as the child is picking them up and mentions words like “matching” and “the same colour”.
Look at how she is also developing her pincer grasp at the same time.