Monday, January 6, 2014

School Language and Inquiry: Color Words

We know how important it is for our young children to identify colors. It is one of those school language skills that can confuse children if they begin kindergarten not being able to identify blue, red, green, etc. Think about it - teachers say, “Sit at the red table. Stand on the green square.” If children are not able to identify colors, it can set them up for early confusion. They may be mislabeled as poor students or behavior problems when the real issue they didn’t understand color words. This is why academic language (or school language) is necessary for children to learn. 

You can use color identification as more then memorization; this skill can lead to inquiry and scientific thought, too. So let’s delve into the many opportunities color provides us!

One fun way to encourage color knowledge is to let children explore. Give them paints and have them plop blobs of the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow on a paper.  Develop expressive language by talking about the colors. Have children look for other objects that match these colors. Be sure to use the color words when looking and discussing these objects.

This child looks for red, blue, and yellow letters.  

You may even encourage children to look through books for pictures of red, blue, or yellow items. This encourages all those Concept of Print components like holding the book right side up, turning pages correctly, or looking at the page on the left before the page on the right.  Be sure to discuss this with your child (or small group of children) as you do this. Model and talk about looking at a book by saying, “We can look for red things by holding the book like this.” Show how to hold the book. “We can look for blue things on this page first.” Point to the left page. “We can turn one page at a time to look for yellow things.” Demonstrate how to turn pages. It sounds simple, but children often don’t know and we forget to show them!  

Children can begin to think about sorting colors. This encourages higher order thinking skills. Sort anything: blocks, crayons, pieces of clay, or even letters. We like sorting as it encourages creative thought!

There are many ways to sort objects. This child sorts by color.
A wonderful way to go beyond the identification of colors is to encourage scientific inquiry. Ask children to predict (or hypothesize) what will happen when colors are mixed together. This is the beginning of science exploration! Let children find out for themselves and rejoice in their discoveries. This can be as simple as letting them mix paint on a paper as shown below:

Stay tuned for more January fun with colors. We’ll show you how to continue to develop creative thought!

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