#5: “Mama, I made GLUE!”
Me: “What? How?”
My youngest is my only son and lately he has been conjuring up new ways to get into mischief that none of my girls have ever even dreamed of. So I panicked a little as he ran in the room one day proud of this particular accomplishment.
Me: “How did you make glue? And more importantly, where did you put it?”
#5: “Look! And I made red too!”
To my relief, he’s holding up markers that he just made using this kit that his godfathers gave him for Christmas.
Me: “Why did you name that one ‘GLUE’?”
#5: “It’s grey-blue, Mom.”
The kids also made a marker that they gave as a going away present to one of their favourite nature mentors. It was a khaki camo green colour.
Me: “Why did you pick that colour to make for him?”
Kids: “It’s the colour of his jacket. And that’s what we named it, ‘Phil’s Jacket.'”
We take colour names for granted. Nothing reminds us of this more as we try to describe colours to toddlers and preschoolers.
When the kids were little, I compared colour to natural objects or I would group very different objects by colour to show what I was talking about when I referred to colour. It was similar to how Laura Tarrish groups her collection of chairs (click on the slideshow link).
How would you describe colour to a blind person? Could you do it? Here is an interesting article on this.
In the foreword of Midstream My Later Life by Helen Keller, Nella Braddy writes how Helen Keller saw colour:
It is annoying to a certain type of mind to have Miss Keller describe something she obviously cannot know through direct sensation. The annoyance is mutual. These sensations, whatever expert opinion on them may be, are as real to her as any others. Her idea of colour, to take only one instance, is built up through association and analogy. Pink is ‘like a baby’s cheek or a soft Southern breeze.’ Gray is ‘like a soft shawl around the shoulders.’ Yellow is ‘like the sun. It means life and is rich in promise.’ There are two kinds of brown. ‘One is warm and friendly like leaf mould.’ The other is ‘like the trunks of aged trees with worm holes in them, or like withered hands.’ Lilac, which is her Teacher’s favourite colour, ‘makes her think of faces she has loved and kissed.’ The warm sun brings out odours that make her think of red. Coolness brings out odoursthat make her think of green. A sparkling colour brings to mind soap bubbles quivering under her hand.
Today let’s really look at colour before we knew their names.
Grab some paint chips from the local hardware store and cut off all the names and re-name them using emotions or verbs or objects that are undeniably that colour.
Do a paint palette of random colours – mixing them in interesting ways to come up with hard to name colours.
If you can get out one morning, watch a sunrise and you will realize how difficult it is to name all the colours that you see. But try anyway.
For those who want to know the origin of the names of colours, this is an interesting read.
And one of the best sources of colour names of all time can be found here. (That’s how I learned the colour of periwinkle.)
For those neutral colour lovers out there, here is a great source for inspiration when trying to name beiges and greys.
And read here for an entertaining and closer look at some paint shades that you may have missed when choosing that perfect shade for the living room.
This is a perfect family activity. Everyone sees a colour differently. We associate them with things from our own personal history.
Most people can identify between 150 and 200 colors. But we do not all see exactly the same colors, especially if we’re partly or completely color blind, as many people are – men in particular. A blue ship may not look the same when viewed from opposite sides of the river, depending on the landscape, clouds, and other phenomena. The emotions and memories we associate with certain colors also stain the world we see. And yet how astonishing it is that we do tend to agree on what we call red or teal or cream. – Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
Find those words for the many colours of the sky and shadow. The colour of an almost ripe mango. The colour of freshly rained on soil. The colour of the light that hits your child’s face as they drift to sleep.
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