Everyone knows that crayons and small children seem to go together. But why? Adults view crayons as an art tool. Fortunately, children view them as much more! Crayons lead to self-expression, they help teach colors, they develop small muscle coordination plus they constantly delight and amaze young children. Their versatility is part of their popularity.
Writing Skills – Learn to hold and use crayons properly helps young children develop control in their hand muscles, thus aiding future writing efforts.
Creative Art Skills – Crayons are useful introducing children to the art forms of rubbings and crayon resist. Crayons are one of the first tools children can use to record their environment and imagination.
Math Skills – Crayons can be useful in providing children with many opportunities for counting, matching and identifying sets.
Science Skills – Young children love experimenting with crayons by rubbing them over paper placed on various textures. They also are fascinated by the fact that crayon shavings can be melted and appear opaque on certain papers.
Social Skills – Crayons are great for sharing. They also are one of the first tools through which children can express their feelings.
Language Skills – Learning to name crayons is a great way for young children to learn the names of common colors.
RECOGNIZING TEACHING MOMENTS
Adults hold the key to preserving the creative spirit found in all young children. Stop and think for a moment how vulnerable children are when they make those first attempts at drawing. When adults ask what a particular drawing is, children usually react defensively or pull away from further attempts. They perceive that their drawing was not good enough for the adult to understand what they were attempting to draw. Therefore they should only draw if their picture can be perfect. Without knowing it, an adult can totally destroy their child’s creative spirit.
Instead adults should not ask about the picture at all, they should tell the child what they like about the picture. Example: “I like the colors you used”. “It looks like you had a fun time drawing this picture”.
When children draw, they may start out drawing one thing, then they start experimenting with the colors, shapes and techniques and end up with something entirely different. Even if the child tells you what the picture is, don’t praise the objects in the picture (your child will probably know it is not perfect) but praise the effort, the colors, and techniques used. And please don’t ask your child to draw a specific object, even if your child asks, “what should I draw”. Say things like, “Draw something that makes you happy”. “Draw your favorite red thing.”
Below you will find some suggested crayon activities to do with children ages 2-6.
A fun activity for beginning drawers is to put tape around 2 or 3 crayons. When your child uses these crayons, they will automatically be able to make colorful arcs and rainbows.
Even before children can color very well, they will be able to successfully do rubbings. Begin by taking the paper off one or two large crayons. Next, place cardboard shapes or leaves on a flat surface. Cover with a piece of paper. Show your child how to lay the crayon on its side and use it to rub across the paper. Voila! Instant shapes appear before your child’s eyes.
Another sure-fire success for beginnings is to have them color both sides of a plain paper plate. Then color a black (eye) circle in the center of the plate. Now starting near the outer edge, cut the plate around and around in a spiral so that when you are finished, the plate resembles a snake.
For this activity, you will need a regular piece of medium grade sandpaper. Have your child color across the paper, however they wish. When they are done, turn the sandpaper upside-down on a piece of white paper. Next, carefully help your child to iron the back of the sandpaper. When the child separates the two papers, he will find that the white paper now contains a delightful dot picture, the reverse of his picture drawn on the sandpaper.
Another art project you can do with your child involves crayon shavings and a warm iron. Start by having your child help you grate old crayon pieces onto a piece of waxed paper. Next, have your child tear up small pieces of colored paper and aluminum foil onto the waxed paper. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper and place a towel on top. Then, using extreme caution, let your child help you press an iron over the towel to make everything melt together. When your child holds up the pressed papers, she will be delighted with the result. Next, cut the papers into seasonal shapes and hang then on a window to catch the sunlight.
One of my children’s favorite crayon projects was to color crayons on a white piece of paper, then paint across the page with a paint wash (thinned down paint) revealing the wax picture. One of my favorites was when they drew an ocean picture and then they would add a blue wash to complete the ocean.
|Crayons can be used to create many match-up type games. One simple one would be to give your child a crayon and have him find something in your house that matches the crayon color.
|Another game involving crayons would be to take a paper plate and divide it into 6 or 8 pie shaped sections. Color each section with a different colored crayon. Next, give the crayons to your child and have her place the matching crayon on the pie section with the same color.
Provide your child with a tray containing multiples of 4-6 different colors. Mix up the crayons and encourage her to sort the crayons by color.
Place crayons around a room in easy to spot locations. Then play the following game with your child. Say the name of a color and have her try to find that color of crayon. Take turns by letting your child name a color for you to find.
Crayons are a fun way for children to practice beginning writing skills. Interesting colors are much more fun than lead pencils. A fun way to get children to practice making large circles and lines that go up and down, is to encourage them to imagine they are drawing cars speeding around a racetrack or bunnies hopping up and down.
Soap crayons are also fun for writing on the sides of bathtubs. Small muscle control takes a lot of practice. It might as well be fun!
If you end up with a box of small pieces of crayons, you can recycle them by turning them into rainbow crayons. Put a foil baking cup in each cup of a muffin tin. Chop a variety of colors of old peeled crayons into ¼” pieces and place them in the baking cups. Heat the crayons at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until the crayons pieces just begins to melt. Remove them before the colors mix together and become muddy. When the crayons have cooled, peel off the baking cups. The colorful crayon rounds are ready to use.