Techniques for Coloring in the Lines

Coloring in the lines? That’s so…conformist! Ok, so maybe it’s an important skill when it comes to fine motor control and spatial awareness. Recently, I’ve found myself working on this skill quite a bit, so I went to Pinterest to find a few new ideas to refresh my approach a bit.

I picked three different techniques to try, as outlined below, all of which provide some sort of boundary to reinforce the idea of coloring “inside” vs. “outside” of a shape:

Full disclosure, I have also tried this technique in the past using Wikki Stix to outline the shape, (Remember when I tried to make those myself? Yikes. I can still smell the chemical reaction…) and they provided a similar boundary to the 3D art paint. However, I found the Wikki Stix to be a lot more obnoxious because the kids that applied more pressure to their coloring would send those things flying off the page.

My top pin-spirations (Oh my, is that a word? Is it bad I sort of like it? Let’s move on…) was from a blog called HeyDay Living which focused on trying Montessori techniques at home, and an awesome post from The OT Toolbox about line awareness.

So, how did they work out? Check out this example:

Embroidery Hoop
This was a HIT! The children repeatedly asked if they could try this one again and again. They felt incredibly successful, which makes sense, because this technique provided the highest amount of assistance.

The high boundary of the hoop provided:
-more success staying within the guidelines.
-increased tactile feedback when they hit the edge.
-high awareness of “inside” vs. “outside” the lines.
-an easy edge to grasp with their helper hand for bilateral coordination.

3D Art Paint
Who doesn’t love glitter? Wait, let’s rephrase that: Who doesn’t love glitter suspended in paint that doesn’t get everywhere?

This was another technique that kids were excited to try, simply because it looked so cool. “Do you have more?” they would ask, rooting around my pile of papers. And let’s face it, any time you have a child asking for more repetitions of a challenging skill, you are winning.

Plus, with this technique, you can play around with high or low contrast, trying different paint and paper color combinations until you find the right cue for the child.

School Glue
This is by far the lowest amount of assistance. It’s low contrast, adding just a slight tactile edge to the shape. My heavy-handed colorers burned right through that edge with little awareness. It is best used with those that just need a little cue or increased awareness of the guideline.

These techniques are basically a hierarchy of assistance. I might start with the hoop, move to 3D paint, then on to glue as the child gains control and understanding of the concept, eventually moving away from any additional cues at all.

The downside of using the 3D art paint and the school glue is that you must prep these at least a day ahead of time; that stuff is not going to dry within a session. OR… just dedicate an entire morning to gluing and painting tons of papers, using every available surface of your home as a drying rack, like I did one Sunday. Whatever floats your OT planning boat!

(If you want to check out previous Pinterest Test Pins, click here.)

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About TheAnonymousOT

Pediatric Occupational Therapist
This entry was posted in Occupational Therapy, Pinterest Test Pins and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Techniques for Coloring in the Lines

  1. Pamela Merrill says:

    You can get some boundary feedback by tracing the shape or picture with a crayon. It seems to help.

  2. jackie Murray says:

    I have used glue gun because it dries fast and gives the nice tactile edge. I highlight the boundary line with a marker first, so it is very visible. I use construction paper. Also spread all over my kitchen surfaces! lol!

  3. Interesting. I have only used the school glue method and will now have to try the other methods you mention here, especially since school glue takes a bit to dry and the kids seemed to really like the other methods you listed and had high success: embroidery hoop and 3D art paint! Thank you!!!!

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