This may sound a bit simple, but the rainbow was my teaching source about mixing color.
What’s your favorite color?
Has your favorite color changed as you’ve grown older?
Do you have a color that you hate?
If so, what is it?
Why do you hate it?
Do you think colors affect your mood?
How does red/green/blue… make you feel?
What do you think of orange?
Do you think different cultures have different meanings for colors?
What do the different colors mean in your culture?
Do you associate any colors with specific items, numbers, or letters not usually associated with color?
Can you think of different idioms or expressions involving color?
What’s a “black and white” matter?
What does it mean to “see red”?
What does it mean to “feel blue”?
What does it mean to “be yellow”?
What does it mean to be “the black sheep in the family”?
What does it means when someone says they are green with envy?
What does it mean when someone says “he was black as an ace of spades”?
What is pink eye?
How many colors are in the rainbow? What are they?
What colors are on your national flag?
What’s the best color for a car?
What’s the best color for a house?
What do you think is the best color for lens in sunglasses?
What’s the color for passion?
What’s the color for hatred?
What’s the color for happiness?
What’s the color for sadness?
What’s the color for anger?
What’s the color for death?
What’s the color for jealousy?
What is the color of envy?
What’s the color for cowardice?
What color is money in your country?
Do you know anyone who is color blind?
What colors do most color blind people not see?
Do you think animals can see color?
Do you dream in color?
Do you think people who are color-blind can dream in color?
How would you compare the feeling you get watching a movie in black and white to watching it in color?
What color clothes do you like to wear?
What colors do you think look good on you?
What color shoes do you like to wear?
What do you think is the strangest color for a car?
How about a house clothing?
How about hair color?
Do you know anyone who has dyed their hair a strange color? (... an unnatural hair color such as blue or multiple shades?)
Have you ever seen a pet dog or cat with dyed fur?
Do the color-blind dream in color?
What color ink do you like using the most?
What is the meaning of writing with black/green/red/blue ink?
What color of paper you like most if you want to write a letter to your friends or loved ones?
What is the color of the bedspread on your bed?
What color toothbrush do you have?
Does everyone in your family use a different color toothbrush?
What color are the curtains in your bedroom?
What would you think of life without colors?
What do you think life would be like without colors?
How would life change?
What things wouldn’t change?
Have you ever tried to invent a new color?
Try it right now: try to think of a color that doesn’t exi oes it look like?
(Note: It is physically impossible to conceive of a color that isn’t a shade of a color that already exists, but students will enjoy trying for a few minutes and the impossibility of it makes for good conversation.)
All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul.
Make Your Lessons Colorful
Is there anything that hasn’t been written about teaching colors? And is the subject itself worth discussing? And what IS the subject? Is it just a few words which are usually presented in the first months of the lowest levels and which are normally easily memorized by students? And then why are they so important?
As for the subject, it really contains a short list of words, some of which (e.g. red, green, black etc.) are familiar even to people who have never studied English. That is why teenagers and adults hardly ever have problems learning them. They do it at once and then sometimes use them in appropriate situatons.
Most courses for children pay more attention to colors. Young learners spend several lessons or several weeks drilling and practising all new words so it’s no wonder that each course book for kids has a number of exercises “with colors” and different teacher’s books offer a set of special games to use the vocabulary. Last week we played with numbers 1-10, this week - with colors, the next one – with “animals” vocabulary or school objects or something else depending on the programme.
Everything seems easy and colors just seem a part in a series of subjects. But are they in fact?
I dare say that colors are more important for young learners than anything else including the abc and numbers. Colors are among the first things which a baby clearly identifies, so colors can be taught at different ages, even to 1-2 year-olds. I remember an experience which one of my American friends told me about. She was invited to teach a one-year- old Russian girl. The girl couldn’t say a word in Russian, but her parents wanted her to speak English with a real American. Thus, my friend had to play with the baby pointing to different objects and giving them names. In several months time the lessons stopped. When I asked my friend about the results, she was proud of the fact that the little girl could finally do one thing: she could point to colors!
So if a baby can learn colors in a different language, this material is easy for 5-6-7 year- old children. And they enjoy studying it as much as they enjoy studying numbers 1-10. It is the knowledge which they can demonstrate right after the lesson to their mums and grannies.
But it isn’t the only reason why colors are good and nessesary for a teacher. The second thing is more important and I feel sorry that we, teachers, don’t often use this great opportunity. I mean using colors as one of the simplest and working methods to make your lesson interesting and fun.
When teaching children you have to make great efforts to ensure your students concentrate on work. They soon get tired or bored. But you can’t only play, you have to teach them some boring things or make them do tiresome exercises. Why don’t you let them be less dull? Why don’t you:
– use color pencils instead of grey in different activities like matching, completing, putting ticks and crosses, etc.? Color pencils will make workbooks (which are usually black-and-white) bright. Children love bright things and they love making the world more colorful.
– use colors in drillings? You can drill almost anything with them: vocabulary, grammar constructions (for example, ask them to make true sentences and tell their partners: “I’ve got a blue car. I’ve got a yellow car. I haven’t got a brown car” or “I can see a green pencil. I can see a black pencil. I can’t see a pink pencil” etc.) Your students will enjoy saying nonsense: “a red crocodile, a blue crocodile, a white crocodile…” instead of just repeating “crocodile, crocodile, crocodile…”. Or you can use flashcards, pick up two (one – an animal, the second one – a color) and ask your students to make only real, correct phrases. Or – vise versa – only strange. If you ask the children to stand up when calling a real animal and sit down to call unreal, you will get a game.
You can play with the colors of letters, numbers, clothes, pieces of furniture and parts of the face. Food, toys, even seasons are colorful. Their colors are more important for children than we think. Why don’t we exploit this fact?
– use colors when teaching to read and write? These are the childrens’ most difficult and least favourite parts of studying. But if you ask them to read and draw or color the picture (if you can draw one yourself) they will be happier with the task. Then they can write (or complete with some words) a similar text for their partners.
– use color pencils in tests? Some good foreign courses offer such tests for young learners where children have to read and color, listen and color, think and color. As children feel more confident with colors, they suffer from the stress much less.
– use colors to evaluate the results? Some teachers use colors to give their young students a mark for classwork, for homework, for behaviour. They usually use red for a “5”, blue for a “4” and green for a “3”. But you can have other systems: for example, a red star for excellent homework, a blue one – for perfect behaviour, etc. Your children will soon compete who has more stars of one color.
– you sometimes do projects? You could make a Christmas postcard or decorations for your classroom or something else. You could use color paper, pencils or even paint. Some simple instructions, your example and believe me, your students will never forget this lesson!
– play games at the end of the lesson, when your children are tired, need positive emotions and you have five more minutes? One of my students’ favourite games is very simple and funny (but noisy). I call out a color and they have to touch anything of this color as quickly as possible. They can’t share objects and can’t use their course books (which are colorful) – these are the only rules. Very primitive, but this game is what they always enjoy playing. And this game guarantees their happy faces when they say goodbye.
To be honest I must admit that some of these ideas are not mine. I was inspired by Caroline Nixon and Michael Tomlinson, the authors of a really good course for children which I’m using now. I expanded and added something but the idea of using colors in every lesson is theirs. Why don’t we accept it if it works?