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Getting Kids to Remember Secondary Colors

by Erica Loop

If your young artist can't seem to remember that yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple and red and yellow make orange, help her along with a few lessons on remembering the secondary colors. Green, purple and orange -- also known as the secondary colors -- are hues that your child should know and have the ability to recall at will.

Child's Age

According to the child development experts at PBS parents, between the ages of 2 and 3 years, your child can understand anywhere from 500 to 900 words and express up to 570 words. These often include descriptive words such as colors. Your older toddler should have the ability to remember and identify the color names of objects that are green, purple and orange, but might not yet have the skills to recall the specific word "secondary" in reference to these hues. By the close of the preschool years -- 5 years of age -- your child's vocabulary will grow to up to 3,000 words, according to PBS Parents. This mega-step in language development will allow your almost school-age child to remember both the colors names and the art term "secondary colors."

Color Mixing Activity

A simple color mixing activity is an easy way to get kids to remember the secondary colors. Making the colors themselves can help children to better understand and recall the color concepts. Give your child the three primary colors -- red, blue and yellow -- and have him mix and blend them into the secondary ones. Use nontoxic tempera paints and a brush or finger paints and his hand as a tool. Pour pools of each primary color and encourage your child to mix two at a time to create the secondaries. Don't worry if he doesn't paint "something" such as a house, tree or a portrait. The objective for this activity is to remember the secondary colors that he is creating, and not to make a masterpiece.

Matching

As your little learner begins to develop the literacy skills to point out and identify common words -- the experts at PBS Parents note that this typically happens around age 5 or 6 -- she will have the ability to learn and remember the secondary color names when she sees them. According to the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, kids might need to see an unfamiliar or new word six or more times before remembering it. If you want your child to remember both the color and the way that its name looks, try a basic matching game. Write the words green, purple and orange on separate index cards. Using three more index cards, have your child draw a picture -- only using one of the secondaries each -- on it. Play a matching game, stacking each pair together.

Conversations

You don't necessarily need to stage an elaborate activity to help your child remember the names of the secondary colors. Use them often in daily conversations with your child to reinforce their meanings. For example, comment on the brilliant green leaves of the tree at park, the orange color of your child's favorite sherbet or the purple dinosaur on TV. Encourage your child to use these words as well. Ask him to describe objects that contain these colors, using the correct names for all of the secondaries.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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