Note from Adam: I’m excited to introduce you all to Alissa Ellett, who wrote the blog post below. Alissa has written for ICM (for An Illustrated Summer, our Illustrated Earth curriculum and is currently working on our Illustrated Children’s Moments) and is going to be helping us get our blog to be more consistently providing you with interesting and helpful posts, starting off with some reflecting about coloring.
Alissa has worked in ministry for fifteen years, serving in churches across California. She earned her master’s in Christian education from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and is currently serving as the children’s and youth director at University Presbyterian Church in Fresno, California, where she lives with her husband, James, and daughter, June. What gets her going? Live music, spicy Thai food, cream Earl Grey tea, travel, and creating beauty and depth, no matter the medium, especially if it elicits uncovering one’s place in God’s ecology.
Here at Illustrated Children’s Ministry, we’re passionate about coloring. Does it involve putting crayon, pen, pastel, marker, colored pencil to paper? Tell us where and when, and we’re in! As a kid, I loved coloring. My dad’s an artist, and he set up a coloring table for me in family room. For a time, it was exclusively covered with Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle renderings. My portfolio has since broadened, but coloring came to be a love of mine at that table. Maybe you’re super fans like we are at ICM. Share your thoughts below if you are! We think coloring is awesome because it…
Encourages fine motor skill development. As we color, placing color strategically on paper, the eye-brain-hand connection is conditioned. This development is then utilized in all the other routine things we do with our hands, skills which increase agency and independence in children’s lives.
Invites creativity. Coloring is that which allows us to place pigment wherever we decide. This can create a space in which children feel free, knowing there is no “right” answer. Color choice, placement and blending are all up to the creative agent, and the possibilities are endless!
Teaches color recognition. Particularly for younger children, learning colors is an imperative skill, one that helps them feel empowered as they can increasingly describe God’s creation. And not only that, but relationships deepen as children can express themselves more fully to those around them.
Relieves stress. When focusing on a project like coloring, anxiety is lowered in the brain and isn’t as easily expressed. As the hand and brain are busied with coloring, negative thoughts are replaced with ideas about the immediate task at hand.
Increases concentration. Coloring activates the frontal lobes in our brain, the portion responsible for focus and concentration. This area of the brain is also that which is responsible for critical thinking.
Curbs boredom. When children become rambunctious, they may need sleep or food. Or they may simply need to be engaged differently or more deeply. Coloring engages children intellectually and physically, staving off dreaded boredom.
Deepens relationships. In a group, negotiating where and how to color encourages conversation and compromise between children. Additionally, children work cooperatively to create beauty, an endeavor that brings people together regardless of age. Sitting together and slowing down opens space to share our lives together. Who knows what conversations will arise around that table as children put pigment to paper? That’s the most exciting part!
What do you think is super awesome about coloring? We’d love to hear and see how coloring has impacted your life and the lives of those around you!