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How do you answer the question: "is white a colour?" for a 4 yr old?

(46 Posts)
ejt1764 Sat 23-Jun-07 12:03:38

title says it all really - don't want to lie, but can't think how to tell him without completely confusing him!

Tutter Sat 23-Jun-07 12:04:42

you can tell i'm not a scientist

i'd just say yes

when he's older you can explain (if you're a better woman than me)

Speccy Sat 23-Jun-07 12:04:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

beansprout Sat 23-Jun-07 12:05:02

Just say yes for now. Most adults still think black and white are colours!! They appear in all the books as colours so it's hardly the worst white lie (geddit) you will ever use!

Gobbledigook Sat 23-Jun-07 12:11:52

At 4 years old I'd just say yes it's a colour.

Gobbledigook Sat 23-Jun-07 12:12:25

If you have a white top on and you say 'what colour is this?' you're just going to want them to say 'white' aren't you?!

singersgirl Sat 23-Jun-07 12:14:02

It depends what he wants to know. If he is interested in how we see colours, and what we mean by colour, then you could explain.
But "white" is, after all, a "colour", in the sense of "What colour paint do you want?" or "What colour T-shirt would you like to wear?" So it's not wrong to tell him it is a colour.

singersgirl Sat 23-Jun-07 12:14:22

Cross-posted with GDG!

Flamesparrow Sat 23-Jun-07 12:15:06

He's 4!!!! Yes its a colour!

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:33:16

While light contains light of all the other colours in the rainbow!

Things look different colours because they relect light of that colour, which then enters your eye.

So red things reflect light in the red wave length.

ejt1764 Sat 23-Jun-07 12:33:42

Thanks for your responses ... this has come about after seeing a rainbow (of all things) ... however, I think I'll follow your advice, and worry about the technicalities later (or let somebosy else do it!)

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:35:00

when you see a rainbow, the white light is split into the different wavelengths when the light passes through rain drops.....which is why you see rainbows when it is sunny and raining at the same time.

cornsilk Sat 23-Jun-07 12:35:11

White is a tint that can be added to colours to make them brighter. That's what I have always told my ds's. Not too difficult to understand!

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:36:06

ejt....your son asked a really good question, based on an observation of a real life even....a scientist in the making! Well done that boy!!!!!!!!!!!!

ejt1764 Sat 23-Jun-07 12:36:30

thanks for that mb ... ds carries on asking if he's not satisfied with the response - on this occasion, I've told him I'm going to ask somebody who knows and then I'll try to explain it to him so he can understand ... it's exhausting!

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:36:37

You have to be very careful and distinguish between colour in Art and colour in physics!

KerryMum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:37:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:37:17

My poor kids get me being their ears! You can never win!

ejt1764 Sat 23-Jun-07 12:38:45

the original question was: "Why does a rainbow not have white brown and black in it?"

I can explain brown and black, but got myself tangled up in knots with white - I understand the fundamentals myself, but not so clearly that I can explain to ds!

Flamesparrow Sat 23-Jun-07 12:41:03

Ooooooooooooooh - with the original question, yup it needs the science.

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:44:40

ohh fantastic question.

NB this explanation is about light and not paint

Light exsists in different wavelenghts. The different wavelenths react with cells in the back of the eye, and we percieve them as different colours.

The colours of the rainbow are R O Y B I V

and each one of these has a different 'range' of wavelenths. Waves exsis above and below these but we can't see them....intra red and ultra violet for example. But there is no Brown wavelenth. Brown is seen when an object reflects red and blue light and yellow (probably). Our brain 'decodes' that as says....this is brown

Our eyes can only detect colour because the different wavelenths trigger the receptors in the back of the eye, ro differening degrees, and our brain puts the information together.

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:46:21

and white light is made up of all the different wavelenths added together. so the sunlight is white light......and the rain droplets spilt it into all the different colour wavelenths that make it up.

Things look white, because the object reflects all wevelenths. Things look black, because black objects absorb all wavelents.

Light and pain are different things!

Blandmum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:46:42

light and paint!!!!

KerryMum Sat 23-Jun-07 12:46:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

katelyle Sat 23-Jun-07 12:49:21

Haven't read the whole thread, but don't forget to do that fab thing with a rainbow coloured spinner that goes white when you spin it! My dcs love that!

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