One of my favorite activities, especially on rainy or snowy days, is to color with my kids. Now I’m not talking about the box of crayons and the dime store coloring book sort of coloring. I am talking about artist quality colored pencils and Dover Publications coloring books. Dover Publications has hundreds of coloring books on a huge variety of subjects that can really enhance your child’s learning experience. Some of the titles are just for fun and for the joy of creating art but others are very informational. There many historical titles that could be incorporated into unit studies.
Comparing this type of coloring to the old-fashioned crayon variety is like comparing sirloin steak to hot dogs. Hot dogs certainly have their place but for real quality, you might look for something a little more sophisticated. In the realm of coloring books, Dover definitely is the quality you are looking for.
You can purchase a set of Prismacolor colored pencils for a fraction of what they cost in even discount art supply stores. Then we gradually put together a pretty impressive collection of books. Some we ordered new and some we picked up at yard sales for a quarter. We have books that cover all different time periods, nature topics and geometric figures.
We don’t worry about who colors in which books for the most part. We usually just choose a book and a picture that suits us at the moment. There is one exception — Mom has a Victorian House book that’s off limits! I have worked my way slowly through this book one room at a time and am almost finished with my masterpiece. I also have one which contains pictures of the outside of houses that I am enjoying. Of course, I like the nature ones, too especially the ones with flower gardens in them. My boys aren’t too picky but they really aren’t interested in my house coloring books. They prefer the historical and the natures titles.
Another title that has been particularly useful is the Human Anatomy book. It shows the body systems in very detailed illustrations so you can learn how our bodies are designed as you color. A great resource to combine with biology or health studies.
There are a couple of tips I’ve learned that will help the experience to go smoothly. One thing I would suggest is to purchase a pencil sharpener that is strong enough to handle the harder lead of the pencils. We ruined an electric one with overuse. I finally just bought a metal hand-held one designed for artists. It works fine, just remember to give your artists a place to collect the shavings while they are sharpening. A paper plate or something like a piece of poster board will work fine. Also, we have learned that if we want our books to look good when we are all done with them, it’s a good idea to use a piece of plain white paper between the pages so the pressure you exert while coloring on your current page doesn’t “transfer” the colors on the previous pages onto each other. The white paper picks up any color that is transferred by your pencil pressure.