Color Recognition and Development

It’s quite incredible to think of all that a child learns in those first few years of life. Everything is new! Some of the concepts that adults may see as quite elementary – counting, shapes, letters – are building blocks to understanding the world; but, they are also quite abstract. Color in particular is challenging to learn and understand. There are so many shades, with lighting affecting perception (as Nuggeteers well know!). There’s a lot to learn about the world of color! 

Color recognition is a milestone for children 18 months to 3 years. This verbal and spatial awareness skill enables kids to identify which color belongs to which shape, as well as to name different shades of a color as that color. Nug Mom and experienced elementary teacher Maria shares, “Color is a unique milestone because it’s so abstract. One object can have so many colors! Think of leaves: they can be green but also turn red or orange. But some things, like a stop sign, are always red.”

Nugget x The World of Eric Carle Coloring Sheet

One activity that can help with color recognition is looking at outlines of shapes and exploring which colors can be used to color it in. Looking at The Very Hungry Caterpillar Nugget coloring page, for example, a child could explore which colors would make the strawberry most resemble a strawberry in real life. This is matching one color to an object, just like stop signs and school buses. 

With the apple on the coloring sheet, there is an opportunity to talk about how apples come in different colors. Decide if today your apple is red, or green, or a nice golden color! This explores the way that the same object can be different colors, which is a more advanced step in color recognition. 

There are many other ways to support color recognition for your child. Maria shares, “One strategy we’ve used is picking a color for the week. For example, let’s say we pick green. I only put out toys that are different shades of green, or maybe my daughter wears green in her outfit. You can even do this with food, putting some green on the dinner plate. All of this helps explore the shades of color, acquiring the language for green and adjectives to help describe what they are seeing.”

Our The Very Hungry Caterpillar Nugget coloring sheets are available for download here. For the youngest Nuggeteers, you can practice shape recognition during coloring. A question prompt for older Nuggeteers could be: “What are three objects that are always the same color, and what are three objects that can be lots of different colors (hint: Nuggets!)?"