06 November 2006

Teach toddlers their colors using M&Ms

Sechy's hack teaches toddlers their colors AND gets rid of Halloween candy!

I was trying to figure out a way to get my son to learn his colors. I know that kids love being rewarded for things they do and what do kids like more than candy? I bought some M&M's and rewarded him when he got the answer right. It took a while but he finally started get them every time and now knows his basic colors. I am sure you can do the same thing with Skittles or any other colorful candy.

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There has got to be a way to help your child learn colors without filling him with sugar.

Fruit and vegetables come in lots of different colors. Throw the M&M's and Skittles away.

M&M's for a toddler? How do you ever justify giving candy to a small child on any regular basis? Teaching suger, or any food, is a reward leads to habits in adult life that are hard to shake. And why does a toddler need a reward system for learning this young? Because they don't know their colors yet there is something wrong? The flip side of getting a reward for the right answer is the disappointment and feeling punished for getting it wrong. What a lot to put on a small child...

My two cents: a child shouldn't need incentives to learn. It is its own reward because learning is fun. When you introduce the idea of rewards you change learning into a task.

That's the larger issue with our school system, where learning has become a chore. It's also an issue with the toys we give children; they too often are designed from the perspective that being educational means being boring.

Here we go. A study showed that intrinsic motivation (doing things because they are interesting) is more effective than rewarding results. Once rewards are removed, children become even less motivated than they were before the incentives were offered.

http://www.tinyurl.com/yma744

I have to agree with the other comments - rewarding children for a learning activity is redundant - the reward is in the learning itself - not to mention the bad habit you are establishing in teaching your child to expect a sweet just because she/he has performed well. It's bad form and destructive to your child's health and well-being.

A fun learning game I play with my children is to assign them a shape or color, give them a basket and tell them to fill it with items from around the house that fit the criteria; e.g. "Fill this basket with things that are ROUND." or "Fill this basket with things that are YELLOW." Then we sit down together and sort them - into sizes, smallest to largest; or by shades, lightest yellow to darkest yellow. It's interactive; the reward is they get your attention and time and love and they learn at the same time.

Color training

I used coke and pepsi for red and blue
Mountain dew for green
7up for the other green.
RC Cola for royal blue

We stayed up LATE into the night my 2yo and I learning our colors.

No one said that using M&Ms has to be the EXCLUSIVE way of teaching colors. When my 2-year-old has M&Ms as an occasional treat, we do the colors. But we also do the colors when we put away the Legos, when we pick up fall leaves, when we read books.

The point is, there are many opportunities for teaching and learning. Seize them when and where you can!

Read the book "Put Me In the Zoo," by Robert Lopshire, to your child every day. It's a good book anyway, but has the added benefit of teaching colors.

Another good one for colors and numbers is the game of Uno. I couldn't believe that my 2 1/2yo could play it! We have to help him out when he can't match a color or number, but he's holding his own quite well these days. Also good for older kids beginning to learn a foreign language.

I have to say I am very disappointed in the comments so far on this post. We all have different parenting strategies and the whole idea behind this site (I thought anyway) was to share ideas in a welcoming and open environment.

I'm sure that all you people who posted negative and judgmental comments have parenting strategies that we could all disagree with, but we don't discourage you from sharing. I personally like Jill's comment, instead of criticizing other parents we could all just suggest other ideas we have found useful in our great parenting adventures. Being a parent is hard enough as it is, why don't we try to foster a supportive atmosphere here.

I'm for being supportive, and no one likes being insulted, but I hope all parents would appreciate hearing differing perspectives (especially when such a parent offers up his or her experiences as an example). I do it on my blog with such issues as keeping TV away from toddlers, knowing full well most of the western world has its kids plugged into Baby Einstein videos. Do I cringe at the prospect of people offering differing viewpoints? No, I expect them to speak up. Parents should feel passionate about their parenting choices. I wager that most parents reading parenting blogs *are* passionate.

This blog is all about sharing what works and using it as a springboard for discussion. Obviously, what works for one family doesn't necessarily work for another. Dissenting opinions are welcome, encouraged even, as long as the tone is respectful and constructive.

What's not OK: sarcasm, finger pointing, flaming.

I'll add: the quality and tone of the comments on this site is generally A1. I'm very pleased that Parent Hacks is a low-snark zone. I hope everyone feels comfortable sharing honest opinions here.

I'd just like to add another way to teach colors with something you're probably already using - sippy cups.

Each morning when I get the kids their drinks, my toddler is there to help me. I've started asking him which of two cups he wants by showing them to him and saying the colors.

This morning I gave him the choice of pink or orange. He pointed to the orange and said, "booo" (blue). Ah well, he's excited he gets to choose. ;)

M&M's and their artifical colors, no thanks. My wife & I play I spy with our 2 yr old all the time. We've recently found organizing all the colored letter & number magnets on the frig is a strangely fun and educational, in a sort of obsessive compulsive way.

I think you all need to take it easy on the negative comments. There are nicer ways to speak your opinion than the ways above. Yet another way to teach colors is with colored straws. You can have the child pick what color straw they wish to drink with or you can dump out the whole box and direct them to pick up red ones first, then blue, and so on.

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