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Ideas for coloring-obsessed toddler?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

My son (23 months) is OBSESSED with coloring. Crayons, pens, pencils, blank paper, coloring books, you name it. He'll do this for HOURS. I've only seen him be this absorbed when we were doing Montessori activities that were recommended for his particular age and stage (like an exploration basket at 6 months). I'm just....well, frankly, *I* am bored with the coloring. I was wondering if you could recommend any other activities that will scratch the same itch as the coloring.


I thought about maybe trying to introduce some transferring activities, but I'm not sure what exactly. He self-feeds with a fork and/or spoon and/or fingers, so transferring with a spoon doesn't seem like it would be too exciting. I'm not sure he has the hand strength for tongs, and I worry that it would frustrate him.


I should also note that he loathes all art activities that involve getting messy, such as finger painting or even playdoh, which seems to be the bulk of activities I have found that are recommended for his age.

post #2 of 6
Is he happy to do the coloring by himself or does he want you to be there sitting next to him? If he can do the activity independently then I really think you should let him continue with his obsession in his own way. If he wants you to sit next to him, well then I can certainly understand that you're getting bored though.
One idea for a fairly non-messy art activity is water color pencils. You draw/color with the pencils first and then paint over them with water. My 3 1/2 year son enjoys them quite a bit.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

He wants me to do it with him about 2/3 of the time. The rest of the time, yes, MORE POWER TO HIM. I'm bored with having to color with him, and especially with him being "Tiny Art Director": "Draw blue pony in the bath, Mama!"

I also feel like it would be nice to have some other options for times when the crayons are in time out (materials that he uses improperly go into "time out" for a non-specified period of time--so, if he uses the crayons to draw on the wall, which he knows he isn't supposed to do, I put them up out of reach for a bit. It's easier than putting him in timeout, and more effective), or times when *he* seems finally bored with it. Sometimes he acts out, and I think it's because he's bored and wants me to be more interesting. I'd love to have something else, besides coloring, that would give him that same feeling of flow...and be more productive than deliberately driving me crazy.


Watercolor pencils are a great idea--I think I have some around here somewhere...Thanks!

post #4 of 6

My kids love drawing and colouring but liek your's they don't want to sit and do it alone. We found making the colouring more portable so they could follow me around worked OK when they were little. A clipboard and pencil was handy and could go anywhere. We also got an easel and chalks, which they liked.


Magna doodles and the aqua doodle were also fun for a while, and didn't generate bucket loads of paper. A bonus for us as they wanted to keep each and everry piece.


Outdoors we had big chalks to draw on the patio, or a bucket of water and paintbrush to "paint" it. They loved doing the chal first then following over the lines with water to make it vanish.

post #5 of 6

I'd say let him color - if you're willing to sit with him, then fine, if you're not - he needs to learn to color independently, maybe even at a child size table in the kitchen while you're making dinner or whatever.  23 months is still so very young - it sounds like he's very capable for his age, vocal, etc.


The fact that he can stay absorbed at a single activity for a long time is great.  If he wants to color, fine - I'm sure when he's 16, he'll be begging to borrow the car and not drawing.


Perhaps this essay may be reassuring - it's about a child who spent weeks, if not months polishing a duck in Montessori.


When provided with opportunities, children will make choices - maybe you have the next Rembrandt or Picasso.
Best of luck!
post #6 of 6

Pattern blocks?




We had an "Artist's" magnetic set from the company that produces the Magnetic Poetry series. You could make abstract Picasso-like creations on a magnetic board using brightly coloured shapes. I can't find it on-line, but I only did a quick search. This Design Shapes set is the closest thing I could find, so maybe they don't make it anymore. I'm not sure whether it's suitable for a toddler, since I think using the thin magnetic pieces needs some fine motor skill. It might keep him interested though. 

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