Coloring INSIDE the Lines (it’s ok, Mom)

When my oldest was just a roly-poly, I read that coloring books stunt creative growth.   Basically, the recommendation goes that kids should make their own lines and not color in someone else’s art.   Not to over think it, but I have to say, that I buy into this theory.  (I can hear all my girlfriends groaning and preparing to mock me … wait, wait. )

Fast forward ten years and my littles are sitting spell bound at the kitchen table coloring each element of a historical person EXACTLY as shown.  Never mind, that we probably don’t really know the exact color of clothing worn by Aristotle and Khufu.  I explained that they could choose other colors, but they countered, saying that they wanted to use the same colors as portrayed in the book, Famous Figures of Ancient Times.   They were going for authenticity!

For more than an hour – they colored and cut figures into movable art.  My 5YO recreated Khufu, an Egyptian pharaoh, while my 9YO conjured up Hannibal and his elephant.  It’s one of several Figures in Motion books where art meets history.

As we sat there coloring, cutting and fastening, they asked a ton of questions – including, why doesn’t Pharaoh Khufu wear a shirt.  For the most part, I kept it simple introducing new words to the mix for my 5YO and countering with my own questions (Why do you think Khufu wears jewelry?  What else do we know about Egypt?)

History questions from my 9YO left me wondering how I graduated college without the slightest info on Hannibal or his war elephants.   Thankfully, each figure also included a very brief overview (place, time and significance), so I could fain some historical intellect. 

Figures in Motion is a series of activity books intended to bring history to life.   And, they did!  Art, followed by play, resulting in learning is the goal.   The kids color and cut the figures into movable paper figures (think paper dolls).   Clearly, there is a benefit to coloring inside the lines.  It’s called a history lesson – cloaked in art fun.

For us, the activity book was a great conversation starter about people and places that we don’t normally discuss during the rush-rush of everyday.   What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday – kickin’ it at the kitchen table and chatting up Khufu, Hannibal and his 37 war elephants.  When I asked if I could display the finished figures on our art door, my son said, “Nah, I wanna play with them.”

This post was inspired by the book club, From Left to Write.  The September club featured Famous Figures of Ancient Times and Dinosaurs on the Move by Cathy Diez-Luckie.  In full disclosure, I received free copies of these books.  The kinders in my ‘hood thoroughly enjoyed Dinosaurs on the Move, but I’d save the Famous Figures of Ancient Times for the older kids (say 8 & up).

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One Response to “Coloring INSIDE the Lines (it’s ok, Mom)”

  1. Cathy Diez-Luckie Says:

    Michele,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with Famous Figures of Ancient Times. When I started homeschooling my daughter 7 years ago (she’s now in 6th grade) I did not have any knowledge of history. But over the years it has become one of my favorite subjects. I am always fascinated about what life must have been like thousands of years ago.

    We have also received many requests for ancient women and have started to create them.
    If any of your readers purchase Famous Figures of Ancient Times, they may contact us at info (at) FiguresInMotion (dot) com to receive free pdfs of ancient women. All they have to do is tell us where they purchased the book and we will send them the figures as they are available. We have completed the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, and have three more in process.

    In 2011 we have Famous Figures of Medieval Times and Famous Figures of the American Revolution scheduled.

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