Nothing ruins the fun of scribbling like the frustration of discovering that clothes, skin and walls are also covered with “creativity”. It is important to teach children that we color only on specific surfaces, but messes will happen on the path to full comprehension and compliance. Crayola has just about solved this problem for parents of kids 12 months and up with their Color Wonder line!
There are paper pads, fingerpaint, markers, and coloring books in the Color Wonder line. The markers and fingerprint will only work on their specially-treated paper, but I have a suggestion for those of you who are as frugal as I am: use regular markers on the back of this thick paper, and then use it for scissor practice! The fingerpaint is really only safe for children that do not put their fingers in their mouths. I imagine that the chemicals that allow the paper to react with the paint are not to be swallowed. The coloring books are widely branded. If you have a fan of “Frozen” (who isn’t?) or “Cars”, you are in luck. My strong preference for kids under 3 is the blank pad and markers. Why?
Perceptual skills are very immature before 3, so the black-and-white line drawings in the coloring books appear to them as just a mass of curved and angled lines. The little ones get so much more creativity out of plain paper or coloring on your drawings. If they need a simple graphic, you can draw them a face that they can scribble on, or an ice cream cone like mine above, on which they can add colorful sprinkles.
The magic of Color Wonder is that the markers will not leave a mark on anything but the paper. Not skin, not clothes (maybe silk, but who wears silk in the presence of toddlers?), not sealed wood furniture, and not walls. The fine print on the products says that there will be a mark on unfinished wood and some fabrics, but in my experience it has been unable to leave a mark on most everything a toddler can reach. If you are willing to allow a toddler near a 10K designer sofa, then maybe you can afford to buy another one next year. I can’t.
This no-marking feature makes it safe to bring to public places and relatives that do not appreciate their home being attacked by young artists. Not everyone decorates in “toddler chic”. You probably know that style, where nothing is white and nothing exists that cannot be scrubbed clean? The grandparents have redecorated since you left home, and they will not thrilled to see their home drawn on. Make them happy and make your toddler happy too, with these Color Wonder products.
Once a toddler realizes that they cannot draw on themselves or you with Color Wonder, they usually give up decorating themselves and your home. They color on the paper without an argument. But not always. One of my families with an almost-2 year-old did get the plain paper pad and mini-markers on my advice, and the mom reported that her son didn’t scribble with her as much as he does with me in our sessions. The reason? We figured out that he really enjoys getting a negative reaction out of her when he tries to color on the walls or the floors. Deprived of her strong response, he wandered away, searching for another way to get her attention. I guess I should link her over to Turn Around Toddler Defiance Using “Feed the Meter” Strategies for some methods to engage him in more positive ways.
I very much prefer the mini-markers, with the caps removed (not clicked onto the ends) while coloring to the standard size markers. The short shaft promotes a more mature writing grip, while the longer shafts encourage children to use a fisted grasp. There are pastel and bold color sets. One feature of these markers is that they take a few seconds to react with the special paper. Young toddlers may think that they don’t work. Demonstrate that they do indeed work, and even count it off:”One, two, three….magic!!”
My trick for impulsive or impatient kids? I keep my markers top-off in a small, well-sealed, zip-top plastic bag. They don’t dry out and I can quickly grab a few markers to offer to a child before she races off to find something else to do. Clean-up is faster too. Since the markers don’t stain fingers, I can just scoop and dump them in.
Try these products and see how easy it is to color this summer when you don’t have to clean your walls, skin, and clothes!