This is what the outside world looks like. The sky in this picture is blue! But other than that, the landscape is largely colorless. It’s also bitingly cold.
So inside, we’ve returned to a forgotten pastime around here: coloring. I haven’t colored in years, though I did enjoy design books even before coloring became popular for adults. Since going outside isn’t that appealing when the temperature hovers near zero, and since we accumulated some new art supplies for Christmas, the girls and I enjoyed a few days recently of coloring together. Here are some of the results from Younger Daughter:
Here are Older Daughter’s, both unfinished:
Here are mine:
While coloring, we listened to Randy Alcorn’s Safely Home, which I remembered from several years back (I reviewed it here). It’s come to mind several times lately, and though the audio version turned out to be slightly abridged and was missing some of the parts I wanted to return to, it was an inspiring, thought-provoking time with the two girls as we sat around the table in the sun for several hours, listening and coloring.
This year, we’ve been studying some American novels using study guides that focus on certain skills of literary analysis. The books are good and the skills are worthwhile, but it’s important to preserve reading for pleasure in the background. I always encourage the girls to be reading something non-schoolish. My inner unschooler secretly wonders if the pleasure reading is ultimately more formative and significant than the studied reading.
The designs and markers and stories and conversation and space to think created some rich moments in an otherwise colorless world. Though we won’t often have the kind of time we’ve had on this break from school, I hope we remember to grab some opportunities to do this again.
This isn’t the first time I’ve reflected on the virtues of coloring together. Here is a post from 2008, retrieved and copied from my old blog, “Findings,” and shared in a Poetry Friday round-up. I’ve left the comments, all of which I still value:
August 22, 2008
In our house, it isn’t just the little kids who color. The grown-up ones do, too.
These are from Prism Designs. I decided a long time ago that if I’m going to color with my kids, I’m going to choose things that are fun to color.
These coloring times always have hidden treasures. In the midst of this quiet activity together, certain kinds of conversation materialize. I couldn’t find a poem that fit, so I wrote one. (A rash move for a non-poet.)
My daughters sit on either side of me.
We’re coloring together, hunched around
a table less than four feet off the ground
and scattered thick with possibility.
The markers are an alphabet of hues,
all spilling out across the tabletop.
The concentration gathers in a knot,
but visiting together shakes it loose.
We talk of the untangling of the lines
that lie so cleverly along the pages —
Patterns perceived according to our ages
emerge from white space into bright design.
This hour with my children spreading colors
restores a symmetry to countless others.
My 4-year-old wanted to try one from my “grown-up” coloring book:
So did my 7-year-old: