My earliest memory of coloring books had something to do with flipping through used coloring sheets. Some pages were nicely colored, some were colored without “staying within the lines.” Early on, you just knew instinctively that something was very wrong with these “lampas-lampas” (outside of the boundaries) pages. Actually, when I try to remember, some colored pages seemed to have started well and for some reason, frustration got in the way.
I wasn’t much of a “colorer.” Maybe one reason is that by the time, hand me down coloring books in our family reached me (yes, last of 9kids), only the corny pages were left to color. Also, honestly, the act of rubbing crayons area by area may have bored me. So bored that my sister and I had to “tweak” our experience.
I vividly remember a coloring book of female faces. We then found a way to put in some creativity by applying “make up” through shading and blending. We experimented on eye shadow and cheek blush blending, and lip lining!
Fast forward to 2000, in a class about creativity, our teacher shared about the story of how a young preschooler gave up her passion of drawing horses after a well meaning grandmother gifted her with a coloring book of horses. As they pried further, the child gave up “drawing horses” after seeing how horses should look like.” Why draw when you can easily color? Just stay within the lines.”
We all know that preschoolers cannot easily stay within the lines so why even set them up for that kind of frustrating activity? Surely, there are many other ways to practice fine motor skills that could also enhance creativity. I then realized then that there was an entire movement against the use of coloring books.
So early on, I limited coloring activities and never purchased a coloring book. Coloring pages would only come through the ‘Activity Books” that had mazes, word searches, puzzles,etc.
I eventually began homeschooling our children and needed some background on Art. And was I so thankful that the first “serious” material that guided our view and take on Art was Susan Striker’s Young at Art. For more information, check the author’s website. Have a taste of this book by checking out one of her entries in her blog about encouraging creativity in young children.
I am not really here to wage war against coloring books. (Certainly, not after our book stores shelves have gotten people crazy over the “adult coloring books” ). Well, adults have that skill of staying within the lines and have opted to color instead of drawing from scratch. They have a choice.
But for little children exploring, little hands venturing into various skills, little minds so fertile for the creativity seeds, wouldn’t we want to give them something more? A large blank paper (A4, or even A3!!) with chubby pens and pencils, lots of washable finger or poster paint, fat crayons would be far better choices indeed!
There is just so much to discover about how our children see the world, process what’s going on around them and express their thoughts in their creations. No, not in how they color within the lines but how they will use raw materials around them to express themselves.
So yes, we had very little “coloring within the lines” activities in our classroom. But in return, we witnessed a whole of creativity and relentless pursuit to express and create. Here are just a few works early on our homeschool journey. Newer works are uploaded on HomesCoolph FB page and Homescoolph IG! You may also check out Raya’s Room category in this blog.
Creativity eventually spilled over other subjects and subject matters!
Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.”