Friday, September 23, 2016

Drawing For Two

If you have read my blog, you will know that one of my favorite things is a good coloring or activity book.  I have a quite a collection at work and home and love to pull one out when I am beginning to feel a little stressed or overwhelmed by things.  Coloring and drawing happens to be one of the activities that my daughter and I love to do together.  In addition to it being a great way for us to relax and spend time with each other, I love that I get to sneak in some fine motor work with her.

There are many benefits of coloring and drawing.  From the perspective of an occupational therapist, I love that you can work on improving graphomotor and grasping skills during this activity.  It's also a great opportunity to work on improving visual motor and visual perceptual skills including eye-hand coordination, tracking and several other things.  Coloring and drawing is also a wonderful way to work on developing executive functioning skills such as focus and attention, organizational skills and problem solving.

In addition to all of the skills above, drawing and coloring can also have a positive impact on a child's social emotional skills.  It can build confidence and self-esteem; the simple act of completing a complex picture or puzzle is an accomplishment for them to be proud of.  Coloring and activity books are also good for encouraging creativity and self-expression with kids.  There is no right or wrong when it comes to coloring which takes the pressure off of them.  I have spent a lot of time over the past 6 years learning about the importance of social emotional development and social skills through my work at The Meeting House.  So when I began to see coloring and activity books that were created for two, I quickly grabbed them.  I loved that in addition to working on fine motor and visual motor skills, kids are being encouraged to color, create and complete different puzzles with another person.

Here are a few of the great coloring and activity books out there that are made for two people.  Whether you want to color/draw with friends or your parents, there are some great books to choose from!

Tandem Activity Book- this activity book by Chronicle Books was created for kids to use together.  There are over 75 activities in this book that will get kids thinking, creating, drawing, writing and socializing with others.  Each side-by-side page has the same exact picture or activity for you to complete.  Kids will get to compare and contrast their finished products.  Whether it be drawing on the front of a postcard and then writing a letter on the back or drawing a picture of a gift you would want to receive in your mailbox, kids will have hours of fun completing this book and talking about what they drew.

Two Player Big Fun Book-as coloring and drawing become more popular with older kids, I have heard of play dates being centered around this activity.  For some kids, they are able to multi-task and color and socialize at the same time.  For others, they become so absorbed by the coloring that it ends up being a play date where two kids are just coloring side by side with no conversation.  The Two Player Big Fun Book is a perfect solution for this because it encourages kids to socialize while doing something they enjoy.  In this book, each child picks one side of the book.  There are mazes, connect the dots, word games and drawing/coloring activities that require collaboration and teamwork.

Color With Me: A Coloring Book to Share-another great coloring book that friends can color at the same time.  Each two page spread contains different pictures with similar themes.  This way each child gets to color and create their own image but not made to feel like they have to make the picture exactly the same thing.

Color With Mom:  A Coloring Book to Share-if you love coloring and you have a kid who loves to color, they often want to color in the same book that you are.  However, as great as the adult coloring books are, they are not created with young children in mind.  When I found the Color With Mom book at Barnes and Noble, I had to grab it for me and my daughter.  The great thing about this book is that there are similar pictures on each side-by-side page but one side has a more complicated image and the other is more kid-friendly.  My daughter has loved this because the she can be successful coloring in the same book as me.  I love it because there aren't tears because she is stressing out that the picture we are coloring is too hard for her and that it isn't perfect.  Great for bonding with your child.

Draw With Me, Dad!  Draw, Color and Connect with Your Child (A-Side-By-Side Book)-there are a lot of books out there for moms and kids to do together, but if you are like me, I have a husband who LOVES to create and draw with our daughter.  One of my favorite things about this activity book is that in addition to providing a platform for dads and kids to create together, it also includes tips on how to maximize your time together and lots of questions that you can ask while coloring.

Usborne Pencil & Paper Games-I am a huge fan of the Usborne activity books for a variety of reasons.  When I discovered the Pencil & Paper Games book, I was really excited.  Featuring a variety of simple games, this is a great book for two (or more) people to do together to pass time.  This portable activity book is filled with classic games like Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe, The Dot Game and many others.  What I love about this book is that it is great for older kids who need to work on executive functioning, problem solving and reasoning skills.

Pirasta Coloring Pages-one of the coolest things I have seen, especially for older kids, are these giant coloring page posters by Pirasta. While they have smaller size posters (that are also super awesome), they have these giant posters that you can hang on a wall and a bunch of kids can color at the same time.  There are a bunch of different subjects to choose from but my personal favorite is the New York City one.  I have recommended these posters to tons of people and they are always a huge hit.  I actually used one last year with my TMH Juniors group and it was so fun to watch them all lying on the floor together working together to complete the poster.  These posters are great for working on improving fine motor skills, upper extremity strength (if you hang the poster on the wall) and visual motor/perceptual skills. You can even play a game of I Spy with these posters having kids challenge each other to find things that they spot when looking at the poster.

Do you have any great activity and coloring books that you have discovered that encourage kids to work together?  I would love to add to my collection!  I am always a click away and love hearing from you all.

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