When my son was in preschool I asked him who was in his class. He replied, ” Natalie, she’s the yellow heart.” Children learn color before they learn words because it is easier to process.
This is found in children’s toys with color used to guide use of toys.
The obvious use of color in real life in traffic lights. The colors represent different concepts with red being used universally in the U.S. as representing stop. Color is used to partition an object into sections, as often seen in maps of areas with different sections. Think of how many highlighters are sold to college students to help them highlight key passages in textbooks.
The use of color help convey information, especially sections of a whole is an effective and easy to use instructional or support strategy.
The top two images below show my earliest attempts to use color. The student for whom this was used was a 7th grade student with asperger’s who tested in math and reading at a 1st grade level.
In lieu of referring to the “horizontal line” I can refer to the “yellow line” as in “find the yellow 3” for plotting the point (3, -2). Color, as in the aforementioned yellow heart, is much more intuitive for students, especially those with a disability.
Color was used for the same student to represent positive and negative numbers, first with concrete tokens then with colored numbers on paper.
More examples are shown below. Color helps a student focus on the different parts of an equation or different parts of a ruler.
Color can also help organize a room into different parts. Each color represented different courses I taught, e.g. green was used for algebra 2. The room is more organized because of the sections outlined in color. Consider how this can help a student with ADHD, autism or an executive functioning disorder.