Coloring can be a fun and relaxing way for children to spend their time. It also helps to build important pre-writing skills, such as hand strength and endurance, fine motor control, and promotes developmental grasp patterns. Some children are resistant to coloring, often because it is hard. This article aims to give tips and tricks to increase interest and build coloring success with your little artists.
Considerations for Successful Coloring Sessions
With early academic expectations, it is easy to put pressure on ourselves to make sure our children are coloring and writing at an early age. However, it is important to remember that while each of our children learn and grow at their own pace, they all learn primarily through play. So, let’s take the pressure off of ourselves and our children and find ways to create positive and playful experiences to build coloring success.
Consider Your Child’s Interests and Attention Span
Does your child love Legos? Animals? Tacos? There are coloring sheets for every theme you can imagine! Using themes that you know will capture your child’s attention can make their coloring activities more fun. Of course, it’s always important to start with short, positive coloring sessions to build on your child’s success. A stress free and successful coloring activity that lasts 30 seconds is more powerful than a negative one that lasts 5 minutes. Teaching kids that coloring is something they can be successful with helps to build their interest in coloring more in the future.
Coloring Materials for Coloring Success
When we think of coloring with our little artists, we often immediately think of crayons. Crayons are great for developing hand strength because they provide resistance when coloring, however other materials may be a better match for a hesitant artist. Consider these crayon alternatives:
- Paint: A great starter, as it spreads more easily and quickly than crayons. Kids can use a paint brush, make-up pads, Q-tips, or even their fingers with paint.
- Do-A-Dot markers: Also called bingo dabbers, these create dots of paint and are held with a full-handed grasp, making them easier to manage than other utensils.
- Kwik Sticks: Looking like a glue stick, these tempera paint sticks are less resistant than crayons and can cover a large area quicker.
- Saving Cream/Foam Soap: For kids who may not be ready to hold a writing utensil, shaving cream allows for great tactile play and color without the fine motor demands.
- Dot Stickers: For kids hesitant to pick up writing or coloring tools, consider using dot stickers to cover a coloring page or ripping up construction paper into small pieces, then gluing it to the paper.
More Coloring Success Tips
Limit visual overstimulation
Many coloring pages have large images and complicated backgrounds that can be overwhelming. Starting with a few small targets on a white background can be a good starting point. Sometimes less is more!
Help your child stay in the lines
For children who have difficulty understanding how to color inside boundaries, you can print out a coloring page with a few simple targets (such as balloons). Outline the shape with glue and let it dry before coloring in. This creates a physical outline on the edges of the design (also known as kinesthetic feedback) which makes it easier for your child to stay inside the lines when they are still developing the control of those small hand muscles we need for writing.
Change positions based on preferences
Position the coloring page on a vertical surface (such as a wall or an easel). This position encourages wrist extension which places in hand in a more naturally efficient coloring position. For kids that have trouble sitting still in a chair, try taping the page under a table or laying on their stomach while coloring.
Learn more with this handout: Sensory Tips for Handwriting Development
Check out our printable coloring pages to start the journey with your child. Ensuring that the coloring materials are a good match for your child’s abilities, keeping things positive, and incorporating your child’s interests can go a long way. Have fun with your little artists!