mother watching her toddler coloring something while lying on the bed

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A search for “coloring books” on Amazon yields over 50,000 results. The popularity of coloring is usually attributed to the perception that it reduces anxiety and helps you focus on the present. Using new technologies, researchers found changes in heart rate and brainwaves that demonstrate the calming effect of coloring even on individuals who don’t benefit from traditional relaxation techniques.

Benefits of Coloring for Kids

The idea that such a simple and easily accessible activity makes you calm down is certainly appealing and worth trying out both in grown-ups and in kids. If you’re looking for more ideas about how to help your child deal with stress, anxiety and anger, check out the Coping Skills for Kids Workbook for over 75 fun and engaging activities. But the truth is that the benefits coloring provides for kids go far beyond relaxation.

kids coloring on the floor

There’s a very insightful article on Scholastic’s website about developmental milestones of coloring inside the lines. “When children are really young, they scribble because they’re just using the movement of their arm and holding the crayon in their fist,” says Denise Bodman, Ph.D., a principal lecturer with the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. “As their fine motor skills develop, they start using their fingers and wrist to move the crayon. That eventually leads to basic writing skills.”

Coloring contributes to the development of fine motor skills, spatial awareness, hand strength, hand to eye coordination, concentration and attention to detail. It stimulates creativity and experimentation, giving children the opportunity to learn about cause and effect. And when a project is completed, the sense of accomplishment is priceless!

Best Coloring Books for Toddlers

So, considering all the benefits of coloring for kids, there’s no doubt that coloring books make a great present. But in the ocean of different products on the market, finding the right one for a toddler can be tricky. Many parents complain that, when designs are too complicated for little ones, the coloring process can quickly turn from relaxing to frustrating.

With thousands of search results, it’s easy to miss out on some great, toddler-approved products. That’s why we’re here to save you time and help your little one get a wonderful coloring experience.

If you’d like your toddler to become familiar with the basic concepts, such as letters, numbers and shapes, while coloring, these four options offer simplicity, toddler-friendly images, thick lines and large format 8,5″ x 11″. (Click on each cover to check out the book and the reviews on Amazon.)

Animals are one of the themes that toddlers enjoy the most. In these two coloring books, you’ll find a great variety of cute farm, jungle and sea creatures.

If your toddler is fascinated by vehicles, they will love these coloring books with easy to color images of cars, trucks, planes, ships and many other things that go.

For those who prefer a mix of different themes, characters and objects in one spot, these three items are a perfect fit.

This beautifully illustrated unicorn coloring book is not merely a collection of coloring pages. It’s a storybook about Jemma Joy Unicorn waiting to be colored by little hands. Size 8,5″ x 8,5″.

“Santa Claus is coming to town…” Your little artist will enjoy Christmas magic even more with these cute holiday-themed coloring books.

How to teach coloring skills?

And when you find the coloring book that suits your toddler’s needs and interests, what can you do to help them master coloring skills?

Most importantly, keep it fun and carefree. Don’t try to impose any restrictions on the appropriateness of their color choices or insist on them coloring inside the lines. Let their imagination run wild and encourage them to explore what their little hands and minds are capable of.

Share the coloring pages with your little one as this is a great way of bonding. Show appreciation for their artistic efforts, but don’t express your enthusiasm only in some vague, generic terms. Sit silently with their creation for a moment, the way you would pause in front of a masterpiece, and try to notice and articulate the little achievements that their apparently simple project reveals.

This article by OT MOMMA can give you some helpful tips on how to stimulate skills that are necessary for coloring. As time goes by, watch the progress in your kid’s pencil grip, movement patterns, spatial skills, coordination, focus and celebrate her wins.

Coloring inside the lines

There’s been a lot of discussion about coloring inside the lines. Children tend to develop this skill between three and five years of age. While some educators and parents emphasize the importance of explicitly guiding kids toward this developmental milestone, others claim that the insistence on this convention kills creativity and undermines free thinking.

No matter if you ask your children to color within the lines or not, they will inevitably become familiar with this norm through the exposure to the images in their environment. Sooner or later most kids will accept this coloring convention. However, instead of teaching them that this is the only valid option, it may be more stimulating to encourage them since the earliest age to engage critically with the rules and experiment with what’s possible. There’s nothing wrong with letting children know that most people color inside the lines but this observation should be accompanied by the remark that they are free to make their own choices and create their own art.

Happy coloring (no matter if it’s inside or outside the lines)!



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