What To Know About Using Colors In The Classroom

I have aversions to certain colors. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – most people find themselves drawn to either warm colors or cool colors, and there is a whole business of the psychology of colors. The handy infographic below takes a look at the psychology of colors and how they’re used in branding. Not applicable to the classroom, right?

Wrong. There are so many different ways you can incorporate color into what you’re doing in your classroom to help boost your efforts. From designing your presentations mindfully to how you mark student work, color can come into play a lot more often than you may realize.

So what colors should you use for what? Take a look at what the infographic below has to say about colors with branding, and we’ll give you an idea of how this crosses over into the classroom. We’d love to hear if you’ve used colors intentionally in your classroom setting, or if you have other ideas. Leave a message in the comments!

Using Colors in the Classroom

Red

Red evokes strength, passion, and excitement. It is often used with food brands to trigger appetite, convey confidence in the brand, and attracts a lot of attention. On the flip side, it can also convey anger or frustration. Note that in some cultures (Chinese, for example) the color red is strongly associated with happiness, so know your audience!

The infamous ‘red pen of correction’ is probably what red is most often associated with in the classroom. That certainly falls into the ‘attracting attention’ category, but students can often have a negative association to red markings on their paper. Try switching it up and using multiple colors when annotating your students’ work – easy to do especially if you have a paperless classroom and are making notes in Word or Google Docs. You can give them a legend or guide to what each color means at the beginning of the semester.

Yellow

Yellow evokes intellect, joy, and energy. Indicates fun, energy, happiness, and attracts attention.

Do you have something that you want your students to notice and get involved in? A project, field trip, fundraiser, or volunteer extra curricular project? Incorporate yellow into the ‘branding’ of your project.

Blue

Blue tends to evoke feelings of loyalty, trust, and intelligence. Blue is the most popular brand color, and is associated with intelligence and trust.

It is not surprising then, that hospitals use so much blue (and green, see below). Introducing a difficult new concept in class, or asking your students to head way out of their comfort zone? Incorporate some blue into your presentations and materials!

Green

Green is considered the easiest color for human vision, and is often associated with freshness, growth, and safety. Often used to indicate environmental friendliness, green can be used in any scenario that you want to evoke a relaxed, safe feeling.

Your classroom environmental initiatives can obviously be ‘branded’ green, but don’t forget that green is the color associated with “GO”, so take advantage of that! (Side note: Starbuck’s, green logo, caffeine, GO. Coincidence? I doubt it!).

Don’t underestimate using colors to talk about emotions and language directly in your classroom. Reading materials and visuals can come together as students discuss book or movie characters, their experiences and emotions, and the language that goes along with that. Talk about synonyms, antonyms, and alternate descriptions!

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3 Comments

  1. Chad

    March 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Light blue also happens to be best if your classroom is equipped with high definition camera’s for hybrid F2F and online sessions.

  2. Soozie Brown

    March 8, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Learning about the diagnosis of my ADHD, and having family with bipolar, anxiety and autism … be careful with too much busy in the environment or an interface. It something to be creative and expressive with colour – it’s another to distract those trying hard to learn! – Soozie

  3. Carina

    March 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    As a classroom teacher, I always used colour extensively to enhance the environment and as a way of highlighting key words, etc. in teaching materials (e.g., anchor charts). Then at age 4, our son was diagnosed as colour blind (it’s in my family) and that changed my understanding of using colour in the classroom. Colour blindness (and it has many different names) affects 1 out of every 10-12 boys and 1 out of every 200 girls. If colour is used extensively to highlight key teaching points, these students miss out. One main recommendation is to use words, symbols, underlining, circling in order to ensure they don’t miss out on the cues everyone else is getting. There are many other great tips at Colourblindawareness dot org