50 Shades: The Complexities of Learning Colors Toddler Style 

Quinn Pointing at the Black Bear

Quinn Pointing at the Black Bear

In life, everything is not black and white; there are different shades of gray. Who hasn’t heard that cliche statement or some variation of it? Even a toddler who is eager to learn and explore her surroundings quickly becomes aware of what this means, even is she cannot articulate it, when familiarizing herself with the concept of colors. My little girl, who will be 22 months in two days, does not go day care but has daily number, alphabet, color and critical thinking lessons taught by her father or me, which she enjoys. While learning her numbers and even counting to ten and knowing all of her letters and some shapes too are some skills she mastered months ago, the colors, those countless shades of colors, are taking a bit longer.

Initially, I was concerned that she only recognized about four colors consistently, the primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and purple (we’ve been working a lot with purple). Then it occurred to me (and after doing a little research) that most children do not master the basic colors until around age three. Also, the intricacies involving the many shades of colors can be quite overwhelming. While I try to use items that are “true or basic colors,” we come across so many different shades of the same color in our day to day activities that make learning colors one convoluted task. Why must there be so many shades of the same color? Yes, this comes in handy when picking that “perfect” shade of paint for a living space. But try explaining to a toddler that blue is not just blue. There is light blue, sky blue, royal blue, navy blue, etc. What about those colors that are a cross between two? My daughter has a bath time toy that is a fuchsia shade, which is a cross between purple and pink. How can a toddler, let alone an adult, grasp the concept of colors when there are so many different shades and mixtures?

Presently, we do a color of the week. Quinn and I will wear the color throughout the course of the week. We will have a treasure hunt and find objects around the house in that particular color and sing silly songs about the color. Some of the activities will involve making and playing with play dough in the color of the week and coloring pictures with the color of the week.

While I drive my self nuts trying to make this learning process fun and less confusing for my daughter, I find that I just might be making it more overwhelming than it needs to be for me. Then I must remind myself that a benefit my daughter has is that her brain is absorbing far more and building many more new connections than my adult brain is today. She’ll master those many shades of colors in no time! If you have any suggestions or activities that have helped your child learn colors, please feel free to share.

All the best,



3 thoughts on “50 Shades: The Complexities of Learning Colors Toddler Style 

  1. Pingback: Little Girl, Little Girl, What Do You See? A Beginner Book Just for You! | Mommy's Baby Steps

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  3. Pingback: Terrific Toy Tuesday: What a Colorful Puzzle! | Mommy's Baby Steps

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