I love coloring books. Why would I want to ditch them? How does that inspire creativity?
I always have and probably always will love coloring books. I was a color in the lines, always follow the rules (coloring in the lines is a rule), everything in place kind of girl. I LOVED coloring in the lines. It was predictable, safe and I could make something beautiful. If another child was not coloring inside the lines my body would cringe. I wouldn’t say anything though…I was too shy. I would passive aggressively try to show the other child how to do it the RIGHT way. The other wrong way to color in my 4-year-old mind, was to use the wrong color. Human skin color is not green! Yes, I was that kid. Poor guy, he could have been coloring the hulk for all I knew. But for me it was WRONG!
Now that you know how much I LOVE a good coloring page, I want to share my intentions for this post. While coloring books are not all bad, my goal is to inspire you to inspire creativity in the young children around you. Whether you are a teacher, mom, dad, or caretaker YOU help foster an environment of creativity. Below I’m going to provide some reasons coloring books do not foster creativity in your children. After that I’m also going to provide you with some tools to help inspire creativity in your child’s imagination.
Reasons to put down the coloring books:
- Coloring books hinder the process of art. Art is a process, a creative process. Provided a coloring page we strip our children of that joy in celebrating a finished product.
- Pre-drawn shapes, images, displays inhibit the opportunity to experiment, create, and develop. Think of it this way, you have a great idea of how to do your next presentation and your boss comes in and gives you a script with prompts of exactly how you are to execute the next presentation. How would you feel?
- Coloring a coloring page is easy. By providing children with something where they don’t have to think, develop, or create you are sending this message: you don’t have to reach your potential. All they have to do is pick a color. Is it not our goal to challenge our children to grow? Some of you might say but coloring books help with fine motor development and hand-eye coordination. True, however allowing your child to be free to create with paint brushes, markers, crayons, scissors, glue also develops those areas.
- Coloring books eliminate a child’s ability to express their problems, feelings, and views through art. Often children draw and create what is going on in the world around them. If all you provide them with a picture of My Little Pony they will never be able to work out what is going on inside them. Art provides a safe venue for them to out and express their feelings in a safe way.
- A coloring page never allows a child to create something from nothing. Open-ended art allows children to be flexible, make their own decisions, to fail and to use their intuition to figure out how to fix it. These are all life skills that they will take with them even if they don’t continue with art.
The possibilities with art are endless. “Every child is an artist” -Pablo Picasso. Children gain fine motor skills and develop hand-eye coordination. They experience the patience is seeing a project through to completion. Watching a child’s eyes light up with pride like the brightest stars is a feeling I hope all teachers, parents, and caregivers get to experience. Below are some tools to help inspire open-ended art and creativity in your home or classroom.
How to inspire creativity:
- Ditch the coloring pages with pre-drawn lines and shapes and provide blank paper with coloring utensils. It’s cheaper too right?!
- Provide an art center or art space in your home or classroom. This area should have age appropriate art tools. Here is a list of art tools you could provide: markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, paints, scissors(only for appropriate ages) glue, tissue papers, plain white paper, construction paper, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, paper scraps, tissue paper rolls, playdough, paintbrushes, sequins, googly eyes, old fabric, popsicle sticks, plastic straws, feathers, chalk, glitter. Please do not think you need all of this in your art area. Pick a few things you have lying around the house and put them in your art area. Art is an activity that could last for hours at a very low cost if not free. Be creative and think about recyclable materials you could use in your art area. Encourage your child to use this area daily, but never force art or any play activity.
- Be a role model for the children around you. Sometimes you have to inspire the creative juices to flow. Say, “hmm, I think I’m going to make an elephant today.” Then head of to the art area and make an elephant out of the materials provide. Describe out loud what you are doing for each step. If a child sees you taking risks, he/she will follow. Let them!
- Talk about what you love in their picture or sculpture. Use an excited tone of voice. Say, “Wow, you’re flamingo looks beautiful with all the bright colors! Those colors make me feel happy. There are even circles and squares in your picture!” This kind of verbiage expands the child’s vocabulary.
- Don’t simply hang your child’s art in their room or on the fridge. Make a special place for their art in your house. Make them feel like their art is just as beautiful as the rest of the art on your walls. Use frames, get creative in how to hang their out and rotate out old art with new. Ask them first what pieces they would like to display
- Find or buy a nice blank book. It can be as simple as a school notebook or an art notebook. Allow them to bring this in the car, when traveling, and encourage use at home. It is a great way to see how far your child has come when you flip through the book. It also allows the child to look back over their pictures and remember what they were going through at the time. It is almost like a diary.
- Show a strong preference for your child’s own creative work. If they copied or traced something and come to you hoping you will love it, never be negative but simply say, “Hmm, I really like when you made that zoo the other day. You worked so hard on it!” This one is tricky because it all depends on where your child’s skill level is. You know your child. You know what they are capable of. Remember it’s your job to foster creativity.
Follow these pinterest boards to inspire creativity!