Colourful Semantics

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What is Colourful Semantics?

  • This is an approach for children who find producing sentences difficult.
  • It uses colours to identify different parts of a sentence.
  • This approach supports children to understand a range of question words and to build grammatically correct sentences.

The parts of the sentence are colour coded like this:

Who? (orange) A person, character or animal

What Doing? (yellow) A verb or action word e.g. ‘running’, ‘eating’, ‘sleeping’

What? (green) An object e.g. ‘apple’, ‘car’

Where? (blue) A location or place e.g. ‘the park’, ‘outside’, the cinema’

When? (brown) Time, part of day or special occasion e.g. ‘1pm’ ‘night’, ‘birthday’

How to use Colourful Semantics:

  • When looking at picture books, watching TV or while outside ask “who?” “what doing?” “where?” and “when” questions.  For example:
    Who is riding their bike?
    What is that boy doing?
    What is he cooking?
    Where are they in this picture?
    When do you think this picture was taken?
  • Use the colourful semantics strip to help build sentences (click on ‘download as PDF’ above).  Examples:

  • Click on ‘download as PDF’ above to download a worksheet for your child to colour in.


Bryan A (1997) Colourful semantics. In: Chiat S, Law J, and Marshall J (eds) Language disorders in children and adults: psycholinguistic approaches to therapy. London: Whurr, 143–61.

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