I recently read a post about how we are teaching things to our children that they are developmentally not ready for. I frequently make the argument that while this may be true, we can always find developmentally appropriate ways to teach abstract skills (like time). This post made me reconsider how we are trying to force our primary students to do things that they are not developmentally prepared for. Like using pencils. Are some young children ready to write? Sure, if their fine motor skills are advanced enough for them to do that. This is the exception, not the norm. This is placing many children into OT to undo what they’ve learned because they just weren’t developmentally prepared for a pencil grip. So what does all of this have to do with apps?
My almost four-year old LOVES technology! I often test out apps and tech ideas with him before I try something with my PreK and/or Kinder students. One thing I’ve been giving some thought to lately is how some apps can teach skills in an alternative way. One in particular is coloring - the thing that so many of us enjoy doing yet requires fine motor skills.
He has an array of coloring apps that he enjoys. Some allow him to color and make sure that the color doesn’t go outside the lines and others mimic coloring on paper and if your crayons go outside the lines then do does the color. One of the cool things that I’ve noticed is that the more he uses these apps, the better his paper coloring gets.
When he uses the apps that keep the colors in the lines, he gets to experiment with using an array of colors in a very low risk way. If he doesn’t like the color he chose, he can quickly choose another and start over. In CT, coloring with 3 or more colors in a picture is an Early Learning Standard. Because he can take this type of risk, he works really hard to move his finger (or my cool Nearpod stylus) to stay within the lines. Then when he goes to color a picture either in his coloring book or to use with Quiver, he uses more colors and colors pretty close to the lines.
For a child who has received occupational therapy to develop his fine motor skills and whose personality is a persistent one, this is huge! Where he used to get frustrated with coloring he not only takes more risks, but he also better understands how to create a cleaner colored image.
If you have students or children at home that are struggling with fine motor skills and/or creative risk taking I would highly recommend downloading a few coloring apps for them to increase confidence. There are a plethora of FREE preschool friendly coloring apps available that meet a variety of primary ages children’s interests. If you are looking for a paid app, one of my favorites is Drawing Pad. Not only does it have coloring pages, but it also lets young one create their own images with a variety of artistic tools. This app has helped my little guy grow in his drawing skills! These pictures below you can clearly see trees, a stegosaurs, and that first picture is King Kong vs TRex. Can you say storytelling?!?