Children begin to recognise shapes and colours at a very young age, in fact babies can tell the difference between a circle and a square by touch and sight. This is the first way we learn to categorise things and make sense of the world around us. The first distinction a child will make is same versus different, then they will build on this to begin classifying groups into shapes and colours.
Understanding shapes forms the basis for learning letters and numerals, as these are essentially made up of different shapes. Colour is a beginning for describing, which leads to vocabulary development. Therefore, shapes and colours are a critical base for learning language, science, maths and art.
As your child is learning about colour and shapes, make sure you help them incorporate these things with meaning, for example instead of just yellow, you could say ‘lemony yellow, or circle could be ‘sun circle’. This will help them understand how one red can be different from another, and how shapes can be different sizes/dimensions.
Some examples of playful ways you can incorporate colours and shapes into every day:
- Young children learn by cause and effect, so encourage them to push a ball and discuss how it rolls, to touch the sharp edges of a triangle, to sit on a flat box
- Sort household items into groups, for example your piles of washing as you fold it, cups/platters/bowls as you unpack the dishwasher. Then ask your child to go and find an item around the house that is a similar colour/shape
- Before your walk to the park, pick a colour or shape. Ask your child to point out that colour/shape every time they notice it. Talk about different shades of colour and different versions of shapes.
Books are also a wonderful way for your child to learn about shape and colour, here are a few of our favourites:
- A Color of his Own, by Leo Lionni
- The Mixed-up Chameleon, by Eric Carle
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
- Perfect Square, by Michael Hall
- Dino Shapes, by Suse MacDonald