How to Teach Colors to a 2-Year-Old

By Michelle Johnson
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According to developmental psychologist Judith Hudson, toddlers begin noticing colors around 18 months, the same period when they also start recognizing different sizes, textures and shapes. But even though a 2-year-old may recognize differences between colors, he may not know the names of the colors yet or have the vocabulary to say a color's name. By teaching him about colors in a fun, low-pressure way, you can help encourage the natural interest he has in colors at this age.

Step 1

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Point out colors you see in your daily life. When you get your daughter dressed, say, "I'm putting your pretty pink shirt on you." Offer her two different colored cups and ask if she would like the red or green one. Mention the colors of cars, flowers and houses you see while taking a walk. You don't need to bring up colors constantly, but finding ways to naturally work the names of colors into conversations with your 2-year-old can help her start matching a color with its name.

Step 2

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Buy some children's books intended to teach toddlers about colors. As you read, point out all the red or green or purple images on the pages. Even when you read books that aren't specifically about colors, talk about the colors you see in the pictures.

Step 3

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Play color games. While sorting laundry together, pick up a pink sock and ask her to find the sock that matches it. Choose a "color of the day" and spend the day looking for all the items of that color you can find. Buy tablets that you put in the bathtub to change the color of the water. Mix red and blue or blue and yellow tablets and talk about the new colors the tablets make.

Step 4

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Ask questions about colors while your toddler is playing or while you are going about your day. Start by asking your toddler to point to the blue ball or to pick up the yellow block, suggests Michigan State University. When you think he may know specific names, show him a shirt or toy truck and ask him what color it is.

Step 5

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Help your 2-year-old play an educational computer game that teaches colors. Choose a game with one of her favorite characters, if possible. Games are often more fun than the old-fashioned method of using flashcards, and toddlers enjoy being "grown up" and working on the computer like Mom or Dad. Many educational games are also specifically designed to attract toddlers, hold their interest and help them quickly and easily learn new concepts.

About the Author

Based in southern Idaho, Michelle Johnson started writing in 1991. Her work has been published in the science fiction and fantasy journal, "Extrapolation." Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a Master of Arts in fantasy literature, both from Hofstra University in New York.