Now Bee is growing up I love to do crafty things with her and one of our easiest and most frequent is colouring. When Bee was tiny our first forays into wielding a crayon involved a pad I'd gone out and bought 'specially at Mothercare, I'd been so excited at getting Bee started. Sadly for me she really didn't seem interested, crayons were clearly for chewing on, not drawing.
As she grew it became easier to encourage her to scribble with the crayon rather than eat it, although her attention-span was very short. The paper just wasn't holding her interest and, thinking back, it's not surprising. To give her something to focus on I went out and bought some colouring books with large, simple pictures and it became useful for me to focus Bee's attention on individual parts of the picture: "let's colour the dolly's shoes" etc.
Bee has a very short attention span across the board, not just with colouring so I was pleased when the colouring books seemed to improve matters a little. Still, it wasn't enough. I could maybe get 2 or 3 minutes of really focused attention off Bee before she was emptying the crayon box and wandering away from the table, looking for something else to play with. It's important to me that Bee starts to master simple skills like holding a crayon correctly and control techniques. They are things that will become neccessary as she gets older and we don't want her attention problems to prevent her from achieving.
One day last week inspiration struck. At home we have a digital photo frame that flashes up with a new picture every 5 seconds or so and Bee loves to sit and watch the pictures change, telling me who's on each picture. One morning, while sitting together and watchingt he frame it occured to me that the pictures Bee likes best are of people she knows. She could look at pictures of herself and the people close to her for ages and not get as easily distracted as with other things.
So I got myself on Photoshop and here is the result:
I made 5 different ones in total, all with Bee and various combinations of her loved ones. They were easy to photocopy from there to keep her with a constant supply. So far she loves them and we've had great fun colouring Mama's nose in blue and Daddy's nose in green, Grandma's ears in red and Bee's mouth in purple! So far these personal colouring sheets have held Bee's attention for the longest and so far I've got a good ten minutes of colouring out of her before she starts to lose focus, a record!
If anyone would like to know how these are made:
- Open your picture in Photoshop
- Choose 'filter' from the menus at the top
- From there go into 'sketch' and choose 'photocopy'
- This should open a new box where you can change a few levels about to get it looking how you want.
- Save as a JPG and print!
This doesn't work well with all pictures, some are too busy for them to colour out with large white spaces and can be very black so you might need to try a few different ones.
I've noticed since using these that Bee's accuracy seems to be getting better. To the untrained eye it may look like she's just randomly placing scribbles across the page but if you ask her to colour a specific part of the picture you'll find the scribbles are centered on that part. I'm really thrilled with that, it's one small step of progress along the road towards pen-control. These personalised colouring pages have really worked for us so far and I'm going to keep printing different ones so Bee has a constant stream of pictures to keep her interest.