Preschool Practice: Shapes and Colors!
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Learning shapes and colors may well be a young child’s first educational endeavor. Although recognizing objects as red or blue, round or square might seem like child’s play, it’s actually integral to a young child’s cognitive development, and sets the stage for math concepts from sorting and patterning to geometry, and beyond!
What can you as a parent do to help your young learner master these academic milestones? You may not have to look beyond the backdrop of your life for the perfect learning tools. Try a few of these fun activities to help your child master colors and shapes.
Color Their World
“The best way to teach preschoolers their colors is to use their environment as a teaching tool,” says Maureen McCourt Boylan, former kindergarten teacher and author of Leap into Literacy. “Ask yourself 'What is important in the life of a three-year-old?': choosing the purple shirt or the green shirt, the yellow banana or the red apple, the orange toy or the blue toy. Take advantage of these "teachable moments" and your child will learn their colors in no time.”
Try a few of these color recognition activities throughout the day and you will be amazed at how quickly your little one will become a master of colors:
- Add a colorful description. Always add a color word when talking about items in your environment. For example, instead of “Can you bring mommy the ball? Say “Can you bring mommy the red ball?”
- Find colorful foods. Parents are encouraged to feed children a colorful diet to aide in balanced nutrition. Take advantage of the rainbow of foods on your plate everyday by asking your little one to show you the red food on her plate or ask her what color her peas are. As eating is something that is done several times daily, simply taking a moment at each meal and snack to notice colors will make your child more aware and interested in colors.
- Color your bath time. Adding color capsules (found in the bubble bath section of most discount stores) can help children become aware of colors. You can ask them what color they would like their bath to be and create it using 2 colors if necessary. This is also a great introduction to the science skill of color mixing. Bath crayons (washable soap crayons used to write on the bathtub and tiles) are also a wonderful springboard for talking about colors.
- A colorful family. If your child is having trouble learning a particular color, try creating a day in honor of the color for the entire family. Everyone can wear the color of the day, add the color of the day to meals and snacks and point out the color in your surrounding (street signs, flowers, food boxes, cars etc.) For example, lunch on orange day might consist of macaroni and cheese, carrots and oranges and you might try canned peaches for snack. Adding food color to many foods can help you accomplish your colorful menu easily.
- Color books. There are many wonderful picture books designed to help children master colors. Try a couple of these favorites or ask your librarian for her favorite selections: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh, Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni.
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