Whatever happened to …

… the activity of colouring?

This was a tough one to research and write. I was inspired by my friend Les Mepham in one of his quotes on last week’s post.

Even the ability to colour neatly has gone by the wayside. That might be a good topic for Whatever Happened To – the activity of colouring.

I don’t have too many memories of colouring or enjoying colouring as a child. Personally, I would have rather worked on a suitable Mathematics puzzle. There was one project that I distinctly remember when I had a wood burning kit; I burned a map of Canada to a piece of wood, coloured the provinces, shellacked the board and hung it on my bedroom wall.

Other than that, there were a couple of contests that we always participated in. One was to design and colour something for Easter and they were taped to the entryway of St. Paul’s. The other was the local drug store which held a contest for kids and taped the entries to the inside of the store windows for the town to enjoy. Oh, and while you’re there, you might as well come in and buy some chocolate.

While doing my research, I found this.

We had a Big V in town years ago and a rabbit hole just opened – “Whatever happened to … ” but I’ll resist the urge. Our kids were encouraged to colour and submit their efforts.

As I look at the image, I did have the urge to open it in a paint program but the urge faded when I looked at how much work it would have taken.

Colouring is an important skill. Children learn to colour long before they learn to handwrite. There are skills learned like how to hold the crayons or paint brush and the determination to stay inside the lines. Of course, there’s an even big skill and art in the choice of colours.

I asked Copilot for references to the Ontario Curriculum

Colouring is often integrated into various subjects within the Ontario Curriculum to aid in the development of fine motor skills and creativity. It appears in the Elementary curriculum, particularly within The Arts and Language programs, where students engage in activities that involve colouring as part of their learning process1Additionally, resources like colouring books are sometimes used to complement educational themes, such as learning about emergency preparedness2 or recognizing Canadian flags3.

For specific details on where colouring fits within the curriculum, you can refer to the official Curriculum – Ontario website or educational resources that align with the curriculum’s expectations.

That wasn’t terribly helpful. Every Ontario teacher knows where the curriculum is and that what should be taught is in there.

So, why should kids be taught to color? According to this article, it is magic. That Magical Moment Your Preschooler Starts Coloring Inside the Lines

  • Your child is developing fine motor skills.
  • They’re honing in on their spatial abilities.
  • They’re experimenting, and learning as a result.
  • They’re exploring new topics.
  • They’re tapping into self-control (and self-confidence).
  • They may be more socially aware.  

Our kids don’t colour any more that I know of but their kids do when they come over here. We went the traditional route of colouring books but also have these new cool things that you paint with water and there’s an appropriate colour that shines through. It still is fun to watch the two youngest go at in when they sit down at the kitchen table.

It’s also one of those times when my wife will give me one of those “You’re such a teacher” looks when I try to help with choices and how to hold writing instruments. Of course, this isn’t school, and projects often go half-finished. Sometimes it’s as neat as you’d want and other times, it’s a scribble.

There is an element of pride in this artwork activity and that is display space once it is done. Ours, like I’ll bet yours, was and is the refrigerator door. Sadly, colouring isn’t the preferred activity when they visit the toy room; there are lots of other things that get attention first.

So, for a Sunday, let’s have at it.

  • do you have a favourite remembrance of a colouring activity that you did as a child? How about for your own kids?
  • is there enough colouring done in school to develop that skill and the skill of attending to detail? Is there room in the school day for it?
  • can you remember a name brand of a crayon?
  • can you remember a name brand of a pencil crayon?
  • did you or do you have a size that a crayon will get whittled down to before you get a new crayon or choose a different colour?
  • if the activity of colouring is not around in school, what has replaced it? Is this a good thing?
  • has there been a drop in students who want to pursue studies in the secondary school Arts program as a result of choices made by elementary schools?
  • do you have a preferred app for colouring on the computer like Microsoft Paint or the GIMP? Are you seeing AI appearing in your app to help with digital colouring?
  • do you remember Big V pharmacies? What happened to it in your community?

As with any other Sunday, what are your thoughts? Les and I would appreciate reading them in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here. You can check them all out at this link and if you have an idea for a future post, just reach out like Les did.


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