Just The Two of Us!

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One of my favorite things to do is color.  Now this shouldn’t come as a surprise since I blog about coloring books all the time.  But most of those posts focus on books that are appropriate for children.  While I love to color by myself to help calm down after a long day or when I am feeling particularly overwhelmed by some kind of life event, I have found that it is also an activity that my daughter and I can enjoy together.  The good news is that my 6 year old daughter has inherited my love for coloring and it’s one of the things that we love to do together.  For a while, we would color side by side sharing our special pens, markers and pencils.  She would color in her princess or unicorn books while I tackled the more complex ones like Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.  As Quinn has become older, she wants to do exactly what I am doing but they are often too difficult for her, causing her to become easily frustrated and wanting to give up.  So what was once a fun and bonding experience for us began to turn into a more stressful activity than I was willing to make it.  

So, imagine my excitement when I discovered a whole set of coloring and activity books that encourage kids and their adults to color, draw and create side-by-side!  Not only that, there are a handful of books out there that allow kids to do the same thing!  Below, you will find the ones that I have tested out and fallen in love with.  
Draw With Me, Dad!  Draw, Color and Connect With Your Child-I happen to be married to a guy who loves to draw and create with our daughter.  I will do the coloring but have failed when it comes to being more creative with her.  What I love about this book is that there are these great pictures and illustrations that you need to complete together.  Since my husband is super creative, he often has an easier time coming up with big ideas than our daughter.  What I have noticed is that that tends to stress Quinn out (although this is improving and she is becoming much more creative.  Over a span of two pages, there is a scene that a dad and kid can complete together.   They give you suggestions on what you could add to your pictures if needed but you can be as creative and imaginative as you want.  
Color With Mom-there is finally a coloring book out there that is perfect for moms and their kids to work on together.  You can sit next to each other or across from each other and each color in your own page.  The pictures have a similar theme but one page is a little more complex while the other one is a bit simpler so your child can have success.  After you both complete the picture, you can display them side by side (some may even choose to frame them) for everyone to see
Color With Me: A Coloring Book to Share-from the same people who created Color With Mom.  Color With Me is intended for friends to do together.  Each spread has two different pictures with a similar theme that can be done side-by-side.  Kids are encouraged to not only color the pictures in but to also add details to the images.  
A Coloring Book for Two-Best Friends Forever-Color Together-I’m sure I am not the only one who has watched their kids on a playdate trying to negotiate what picture each of the kids will color.  What sets this book apart from others is that kids don’t have to choose one because there are two identical pictures side-by-side.  Each can do the same picture just the way they want to.  
There are so many occupational therapy benefits to coloring including: 
*improving bilateral coordination skills
*improves fine motor coordination and graphomotor skills
*improves self-regulation, modulation, focus/attention and other executive functioning skills
*improves self-esteem and confidence.  When a child completes a picture and is able to show it off or display it for others to see, they end up feeling much more confident in themselves and will be much more willing to try more challenging graphomotor activities in the future
Additionally, these side-by-side activity books are a great way to encourage social and language skills in children.  The social benefits of coloring with a friend are learning things such as sharing materials, waiting your turn if the materials you want are in use and improving social conversation.  Encourage children to talk about what they are coloring or have them work together to add details to their pictures.  While you are coloring with your children, you should be talking to them about what they are doing or what is happening in the pictures.  For older kids, you can encourage them to write a sentence or two about the picture in order to work on improving handwriting skills at the same time.

One of the other great benefits of coloring with your children, especially if you have a child who is a perfectionist like mine, is for them to see that you have to patient and focus on your work.  I have found that my daughter has become more creative and less concerned about things being perfect since she has started coloring and drawing with us more.  Things used to have to be by the book and being silly made her feel anxious.  She is now the one who is initiating the additions of silly things to some of the pictures these days and she is having more fun in general.

Now that summer is officially here, parents may be looking for something to do with their kids at the end of a long day.  These coloring and drawing books are a perfect way to wind down with your kids.  If you have any questions or want some more suggestions, please don’t hesitate asking.  I’m just a click away and love hearing from you all!

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