Color By Number Activities- not just busy work after all!

color by number activities
Who knew color-by-number activities aren’t just busywork?!

Color-by-number is just a fill-in, right?

Color-by-number activities means busywork, right? I had lunch with a co-worker recently and she had just printed off some color-by-number activites for her group. Looking at them, I thought, ‘Hmm…maybe she just needs to keep her kiddos busy for a minute.’

Yes, I know, that was super-judgy of me. Mea culpa.)

When I asked her about them, she smiled and said, ‘My group LOVE them! And I get to sneak in some fine motor and concept practice without them realising!’

Cue my remorseful face – of course she had a better reason for the activity than just keeping her kids busy! I should have known better (sorry, Megan!) You see, in my primary school teaching days, that’s what I had done. I gave my class color-by-number activities to do for homework if I hadn’t planned anything else, or I would copy some into a sub packet if I had a sub coming in for the day. And I had even copied a bunch for the fast finisher tub when it ran low on ‘real’ activities. I had never really thought of them as a useful activity on their own. Until now.

Stick with me, here – let’s have a look.

The benefits of color-by-number activities

Color-by-number activities –

  • are great fine motor practice for little people
  • are an opportunity for some quiet individual worktime
  • can be designed around a particular skill or concept you want to teach
  • are a really handy quiet activity for kids who don’t sleep at rest time
  • and perhaps most important of all, they’re fun!

Honestly, I feel like a bit of a dummy… I guess I’ve always felt that ‘serious learning’ was the priority, and I didn’t feel that coloring in was serious. Yes, I knew color-by-number activities were supposed to be great practice for fine motor control, but that kinda felt like something teachers said to justify their use.

Well, consider me a convert! I sat down with a few small friends and we all worked on some color-by-number sheets I had made, and boy, did we have a nice time! My activity was based on shape and color recognition, so I used a mix of basic and more complex shapes, and had options ranging from three colors to five. I also made some with very few sections to color (good for those little hands that don’t have a lot of muscle stamina yet) and some with more sections (for your more practiced colorists!)

The proof was in the coloring!

There was lots of discussion about color, including some I hadn’t expected – I was schooled by a four year old because the sheet said we needed to use blue, but there are different blues (don’t cha know!) and he could use light or dark blue and it didn’t matter which. Consider me educated!

We talked about the shapes, too. My group are only just learning about shape, but we had some pre-schoolers with us who needed something beyond your basic square, circle and triangle. We even had a little friend from the nursery join in – she is only just learning to make marks, but even she had a nice time, and by working alongside the bigger kids, she heard lots of color and shape talk and had some great colouring modelling. I’m satisfied that the activity was engaging (and educational!) for everyone involved, including me!

color by number activities
Color-by-number activities are more than just coloring in – they’re great fine motor and concept development practice!

I’ve put together a little freebie for you to try out – the complete activity is available in my TPT store here, or you can try out the freebie first and see what you think. As always, if you enjoy the activity, upload a photo to Instagram and tag me @the_backyard_teacher – I love seeing you and your kiddos at work!

Scroll down to access the freebie or click on the image to visit my TPT store!

color by number activities
See the whole product on TPT

Annie rotunda

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