When Do Kids Learn Colors? All In Good Time!

At what age do kids learn colors can be a complicated question to answer. For children, learning colors is an involved process that takes time. To answer your question, we will provide some guidelines, milestones, and color activities to support your child’s color learning.

wooden building blocks-toddler boys is playing with colorful filled wooden building toys on a wood floor.

So when do kids start learning colors? It starts early! Babies begin to observe color as early as four months. Do you recall how your baby was drawn to bright colors? By visually stimulating their interest in color first, it helps their ability to recognize colors later.

Color Learning For Toddlers

You might be asking, at what age do toddlers learn colors? Typically by 18 months, they will be able to recognize some colors. Yet, as with other developmental milestones, this timing will vary by child. Although they have started to see the color differences, it takes a while to understand and complete activities based on color, such as sorting and matching.

Do not be concerned if your toddler uses the color words but does not correctly match them with an object, as this is part of the learning process. Soon enough, the pieces will come together, and they will be able to match the color name accurately with the color.

Kids learn colors best through hands-on exploration, play activities, and everyday conversation. Make it fun and part of their daily activities. With their limited language skills, they probably cannot name the color, but you might be surprised to find they can identify it.

Start by asking your toddler to find colors non-verbally.

  • For example, while at the park, you might say, “Do you see a blue ball?” and wait for them to point to it.
  • If they are wearing red shoes, ask them if they see anything else the same color.

When Should Kids Know Colors?

As your youngster approaches three years of age, the concept of color begins to take shape. Most kids will know at least one color by age three, and by mid-year may be able to name more, while most 4-year-olds know and can point to even more colors.

It is essential to keep adding fun color activities and references in everyday chats. For example, continue to ask questions like:

  • “Can you show me the blue triangle?”
  • “What color shoes do you want to wear to the library?”
  • “Let’s find your yellow pants?”
  • As they start to name the colors, you can reverse the process. You might point to an object and ask, “What color is this block?”
  • When reading a book, you might ask, “What color is the flower?” or “Can you find the green car?”

Should they miss one, don’t pretend they are right or say, “That’s wrong.” Instead, in an encouraging tone, say the correct color.

Kids learn colors at their own speed. In varying order, some will

  • Master the matching
  • Identify the color by pointing
  • Use the color name but not associate it with the correct color yet

Don’t worry! It will all come together in time.

Color And Learning

Sometimes children may appear to know their colors more than they genuinely do. Often kids associate the color with the noun object. It becomes important to expose them to various items of the same color and vice versa. For instance, if your child is working on the color green, present them with a green square, a green ball, and a green crayon. Next time reverse it and use a green square, a red square, and a blue square to see if they can identify the green from the other colors. If you always use the “green square,” it becomes difficult for the child to separate the object name (square) from the color name (green).

color and learning-green square-red square-blue square toddler stacking the rainbow blocks
Green Square – Blue Square – Red Square

Language skills also influence the rate at which kids learn their colors. Some may know color words but do not understand how to match them correctly. Children not only need to learn the color names but also how to identify and match them.

  • If you said show me something blue, they should be able to point to it.
  • They should also be able to find many items in the same color, like a red ball and red crayon.
  • Finally, if you asked what color the square is, they should be able to name the color.

As your child gets to know their colors, you may want to mix things up. Try using the color words both before and after the object. For example, “This is a red ball, or the ball is red.” This simple change helps them to grasp the meaning of color better.

If you are confident that your child has a good understanding of their colors, try using the wrong color and let them correct you.

  • For instance, say, “Wow, those are pretty pink flowers!” and they will likely correct you and say, “That’s crazy, those flowers are orange!”

Color Milestones

Some parents might become concerned about whether their children are developing on schedule. Remember that learning color can be a difficult concept and requires time. Be patient! If it helps ease your mind, use the milestone that by age three, they know at least one color and several by age four.

Also, if you notice your four-year-old names the same color consistently incorrect, like calling a purple marker blue or is having trouble learning specific colors, talk to your child’s doctor.

Color Activities

We live in a color-filled world, so it is easy to expose your child to the concepts of color. Children can begin to build color skills by becoming aware of the colors in their surroundings. For example, when you are out, think about the color of the signs, vehicles, buildings, or landscape. Point out things like the green grass, the red stop sign, the blue building, or the yellow car.

Also, below are some exciting hands-on color activities for kids to expose your child to the world of color.

Color Matching Games

Typically, one of the first color skills learned is color matching. Ironically, this coincides with their ability to observe sizes, shapes, and textures, which at times may confuse the color learning process.

Color Hunt

An activity that involves placing objects of one color (say blue) around the room. Then give your child a matching colored basket and let them hunt for blue things to put in the basket.

Rainbow Blocks Matching

One easy way to encourage color matching is to take colored sheets of paper and place them on the floor. Then have your child take their rainbow blocks and place each one on the matching sheet of paper. Start with one or two colors until they master the idea, then add more.

Color Sorting Activities

Sorting is another form of matching. Children naturally love to sort and organize things. The activities below help strengthen the concepts of color sorting and matching.

Group By Color

Have them sort multiple items by color into matching containers. This activity reinforces the separation of the color name and the noun object.

Color Sorting Activities

Find The Colored Blocks

An exciting way to get the kids involved is to ask them to find all the “red blocks” and put them on the shelf or in the basket. Each time choose a different color. This activity isolates your child’s focus on one color at a time.

Sorting Blocks (Or Socks!)

Grab some wooden stacking blocks in multiple colors and have your child divide them by color into piles. Youngsters love to help, so you could also have them separate and pair socks by color.

Color Pointing Activities

Try “pointing to colors” games. These activities are great for mastering their colors anywhere and at any time.

I Spy

Using the “I Spy” format, you can ask your child to point out different colors. For instance, you could say, “I spy with my little eye, something that is red,” then wait for your child to point to something red. This game is enjoyable with no pressure and helps them increase their color understanding in real-life settings.

Grocery Store Point

While grocery shopping, your child can point to and name the color of the items you place in your cart.

Color Naming Activities

Once your child has begun to grasp the matching, sorting, and pointing ideas, you can try some color naming activities. To start learning color words, focus on two to three (primary or secondary), adding more as they become proficient. 

Color Hop

This activity is fun, whether you are inside or out. If outside, draw some colored circles using chalk. If you are playing indoors, you can use colored paper or carpet tiles to create some squares. Next, play some music while the kids hop from one color circle or square to another. When the music stops, have each child name the color of the circle or square they landed on. This game helps them separate the shapes from the colors.

Color Books, Puzzles, and Board Games

These activities help solidify their color naming skills while spending some quality time together.

Mixing Color Activities For Preschoolers

With preschoolers, you can begin combining colors to see what happens while expanding their color knowledge.

Playdough Color Mixing

Playdough makes an ideal first medium for color mixing activities. Make some playdough in a variety of bright colors. Then together, experiment by blending different colors. Start with primary colors and ask, “What do you think will happen if we mix the blue and the yellow?”

Color Mixing Paint

Painting with your kids is an interactive way to immerse them into understanding colors. Start with a single primary color and work your way up to multiple colors. As you add more colors, begin mixing them and forming new colors. Add some bling to the project by including items like glitter, pom-poms, and colored craft sticks. Let them freely use their imagination and creativity.

Color Games For Kids

Here are a few lively color learning games to play and explore color, whether outside or in.

Color Relay

Fill two large buckets with all kinds of colorful objects. Then call out a color and have the kids run down to the bucket, grab the correct color item to bring back to you.

If it is a hot day and you want to add some water play, fill the buckets with colored water balloons to break and splash when correct.

Red Light, Green Light

This game is quick and easy, using colored sheets of paper in red and green. Hold up the green piece, and have the children start walking towards you. When you hold up the red, they have to stop. The goal is to make it to you first.

Color Scavenger Hunt

Draw or attach colored squares to the front of white paper lunch sacks. Choose how many and which colors, depending on the age of the kids. Use a few primary colors for younger children. For older kids, you can add secondary colors, black, white, and brown. Then send them out into the yard to collect items in their bag that match the colored squares. The idea is to find at least one thing for each color. Then gather in a circle, having each child match and share what they found for each color.

There you have it. Learning colors can be a lot of fun for all ages. While there is no absolute timeline, we did provide a few guidelines to help you answer the question, “When do kids learn colors?” For some enjoyable color sorting, matching, and mixing, grab a set of Wooden Blocks for Toddlers – Rainbow Blocks, Jr.

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