12 Ideas for Teaching Your Child the Joy of Coloring

Painting, drawing, and coloring are more that just ways for a child to while away empty hours. These arts greatly enhance the growth of cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor pathways in children. Parents should introduce children to coloring as early as possible and consider this time spent as fundamental to their development. Here are 12 great ideas for teaching your child the joy of creating with color.

  1. Computer coloring: Pages abound on the internet that allow a child to click on a palette and then transfer the chosen color into a simple line drawing. This is a great way to teach a very young child to use a mouse, and learn his colors. A fun game for an adult and child to play at these sites is to have the child close his eyes while the adult selects a picture. The adult then "paints" the picture totally black with a few clicks. The child then takes the mouse and selects other colors, then clicks randomly on the page. As objects emerge such as a green hat, blue wings or a brown saddle, the child guesses what the picture is. Research has shown that when children are taught to search their minds for images, it enhances their ability to learn and increases retention.

  2. Finger painting: Young children love being messy. Finger painting is a wonderful, exuberant way to be creative while watching how paints swirl and blend to make new colors. Children can also paint their fingers and hands different colors and press them to the paper to see themselves in the artwork.

  3. Coloring pages: There are plenty of coloring pages also available to print out. Putting color on a printed page with crayons or paint not only helps a child learn colors but also helps him develop his fine motor skills and provides the household with an abundance of refrigerator art. This experience is deeply cognitive. As the child colors he develops essential thinking tools -- pattern recognition and mental representations of what is observed or imagined. He is carefully observing what is on the paper and how it relates to what he sees in the world.

  4. Paint with water books: This is different from regular water colors. The pigment is in the paper and plain water brings out the color. It is a popular activity for toddlers who want a nice picture to display but haven't yet developed the skill. It helps the youngster learn to hold a brush and teaches him a love for making art.

  5. Coloring books: Coloring books often have themes such as numbers, letters, or classic fairy tales. When a child actively interacts with a book, he retains much more of the content.

  6. Watercolors: This has been a children's favorite activity for many years. Children choose their colors by dipping their brush in water and choosing paint by wetting a dry palette. They can mix colors freely and decide whether they want to fill in a coloring book or create their own design.

  7. Paint/Color by numbers: These kits contain cardboards with the outlined picture and numbers printed to show exactly where different colors should go. While they don't encourage creativity, they do demonstrate to children how shading and modulating colors can enhance a picture.

  8. Paper dolls/figures: There are many internet pages that offer paper figures that can be colored and then cut out to become toys. For centuries, girls have colored clothes for paper dolls, but other figures like animals or cars are available that will appeal to all children.

  9. Murals: Older children often participate in cooperative drawing projects in which they are assigned to work on a small part of a larger scene. This can be easily and cheaply done at home by buying rolls of brown paper or wallpaper and inviting friends or siblings to cooperate on a scene. A cooperative project enhances social skills. A street scene also makes a great backdrop to use the figures or dolls that the child colored in a previous project.

  10. Sidewalk art: Special chalk is available for the child who wants to publicly display his artwork. This is much like making mural in that a child has a long canvas and can be part of a group. Make sure child or children have permission to use the sidewalk before you start.

  11. Snow coloring: Snow makes a wonderful canvas. Kids can smooth out a flat surface and use tempera paint. Or they can give their snow sculptures an exciting, colorful look. A food coloring and water mix also works well.

  12. Coloring contests: Many organizations hold coloring contests. Sometimes local newspapers or kids magazines will print pictures for children to color or send in. For younger children, simply creating a neat page with many colors will challenge their neuromotor skills. Older children can participate in contests that require relying on their own creativity to draw pictures that depict a certain theme. Contests add excitement to coloring projects.