From the archives…
Having come from a cognitive development/early childhood education
background, I have often found my “preschool side” at odds with my
“Waldorf side.” The preschool teacher in me felt that my son needed
access to art materials at all times, whenever he wanted them. Paper,
crayons, markers, glue, scissors, play dough- he had it all. He also
slowly lost it all. The markers went when he colored his baby sister,
and the glue disappeared when I caught him eating it. The scissors
were being incorporated into barbershop play, and one day I entered
the playroom to discover everything he could find stuck into a large
pile of glue. When his new paint tray holder arrived (just beautiful,
and very reasonably priced, from naturetables.com) he “christened” the
unfinished white pine by scribbling the jar holders with beeswax
crayons. Thank goodness for Goo Gone! So… the crayons went on
vacation, as did the paper. Now, I am beginning to realize something.
This was just way too much for my just-turned-three-year-old.
So now we are about the task of making coloring special again. How can
we do this? We do a special art project every day at the same time,
and I have decided to make Thursday our coloring day. Thanks to a
Waldorf supplies co-op, I was able to purchase beeswax block crayons
at a good price. You can find these in just about any Waldorf-friendly
catalog, or your local Waldorf school may be able to sell you some at
a discount. But please, don’t let a lack of beeswax stop you from
having a special coloring time. Even jumbo Crayolas can have the paper
removed and be broken into smaller lengths so that your little ones
can use the broad side of the crayon for coloring, layering, and
blending. These ideas, and many others, can be found in “A Child’s
Seasonal Treasury” by Betty Jones.
Sooo… pick a day that suits for coloring, and make a date with your
Buy some big pieces of paper so your child can make big strokes (also
great for large motor development- whoops! There goes the preschool
side of me again) and put them in a pretty basket with your crayons,
some coloring verses (can’t print them due to copyright restrictions,
but you can find two lovely ones in “A Child’s Seasonal Treasury”) and
anything else you feel would set the mood for coloring (a pretty
candle? a silly beret? a beautiful rainbow print?). Invent your own
A couple more items to add to the coloring discussion…
1. Before presenting your child with a clean sheet of coloring paper,
round off the corners. This gives it a more organic and soft feel.
2. After checking into copyright law and fair use/educational
exemptions, I believe it is acceptable to publish a short poem from a
published work for educational purposes.
So, here is a beautiful verse to start your coloring session
Colorful Journey (Betty Jones)
With my crayons I will go,
Journeying o’er the bright rainbow,
Red and yellow, green and blue,
Orange and purple, that will do,
Now let’s see where they’ll take me to.
For this and more coloring verses, see “A Child’s Seasonal Treasury”
by Betty Jones.
3. Coloring Boards. Take a strong piece of cardboard or board that is
a little bit larger than the paper you generally use for coloring.
Cover it with brown paper. This will be your coloring board. Not only
will it define the work space for your child when coloring, it will
also “catch” any marks that go off the paper.
4. Homework for you!
Tonight at the parent’s meeting for the parent-child class I am about
to take with my child, we (the parents) were given white paper and
block crayons and asked to draw a picture for our child as a gift that
we would place at the breakfast table the day before the class begins.
We were also asked to think of a little story to go along with the
picture. If you are committing to having a weekly coloring time with
your child, or are about to embark on any new adventure together,
this would be an excellent way of introducing the concept. Get your
paper, round the edges, and draw a picture (using the broad edges of
the crayons only!) for your little one. Think up a story to go along
with it. Don’t worry whether it’s “pretty” or not- your child will
think it’s beautiful! Place it by your child’s breakfast plate and
tell them all about it!