Thursday, May 28, 2009

Online Coloring Books and Drawing Tools for Children

I came across some interesting online Coloring Books and thought I would share. They're provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and while they also have conventional coloring books to print out and use, they have some nifty online drawing tools as well.

First, they have what are essentially online coloring books. They provide a wide variety of different pictures with each one divided up into small parts (they look a lot like a picture made out of stained glass). At the bottom, they have different "crayons." You simply click on the color you want and then click on whichever small part(s) you want and it gets filled-in with that color. You can change anything you've done, including putting it back as plain white.

LR has very little problem doing any of this and he's just shy of being four. Granted, he does have a fair amount of experience with the computer and he's also able to do such things as moving the page up and down, hitting the "Back" button, and closing out a window entirely. [Note to self: don't leave important pages in other open windows unless they're bookmarked]. But I don't think most children will have serious problems once they've put some practice into it even if a computer mouse is new to them. However, I should warn you that many of the pictures do have one, or several, areas that are very small and thus very difficult to color; you may want to point out to your child just how hard they are so they don't get too upset if/when they can't do it.

They also have an interesting (free) online drawing program here. This one is a bit harder to use but it lets you draw your own picture, allowing you to "draw" in a variety of colors and patterns. The have many, many other things on their "Kid's Pages," including songs and jokes among others, but I haven't tried them out yet.

All of this is just wonderful for developing fine motor control, hand-eye coordination, and computer experience. They may as well get started now, they'll certainly be using them pretty much incessantly for the rest of their lives.

They're also great for rainy days, which we've had a week of. They're even better when your child has been stuck home for nine days (see my last post) and is going very, very stir crazy. Best of all -- they're free.


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