A fresh box of Crayola Crayons have the power to take us back to a simpler time. One of endless possibilities. Infinite worlds. Imaginations even run rampant when that colored wax hits the paper. However, there is much more at play than just coloring in or outside of the lines. We spoke with one of our Occupational Therapists, Jenna Zansler, about why she uses coloring when working with her patients.
1. To Work on Hand Strength & Endurance
“The longer you color the more your muscles have to work – and different types of coloring work different muscle groups – am I filling in a large space that needs less precision and using a lot of wrist movement or working on a tiny detail where the movement needs to come from the fingers. Ideally I want my kids to build up to coloring for 10 min without fatigue or complaint… I like short markers and broken crayons the best. Opening and closing markers is great for hand strength. Short writing tools make a child more likely to use an appropriate grasp.”
2. To Work on Specific Finger Skills
“Moving them up and down, side to side, in a circular motion.” This lesson helps develop fine motor skills that are important and even allows for spatial awareness to be worked on; enhancing their and their hand’s position in relation to the lines, objects and shapes. More than spatial reasoning, coloring helps with with hand-eye coordination; by being able to point at an object, move their hand toward the visual input and coloring within a small or larger areas.
3. To Work on Visual Scanning
“Learning to find things in a busy background is a visual skill- It’s also a good way to work on receptive skills (Can you find the horse? Let’s color the dog’s tail), directional skills (at the top, on the left, in the middle).”
4. Remember, Start Small.
“For parents who say their kids don’t like coloring… If your kid struggles with coloring- start with small pictures. A large picture, even if it’s something they love will look like an unreachable goal.”
There’s magic on those pages and in those crayons and markers. But, there’s also magic in each and every one of those kids. Taking the time, working with them one on one and turning those sheets of paper into strong skill sets makes coloring time that much more rewarding.