Beyond Coloring

In the Montessori educational model, teaching materials build upon each other in a specific sequence that allows for students to learn at their own pace while also addressing the need for order and independence.  A clear example of this is the use of Metal Insets.  For toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary age students, this engaging practice helps develop  early pre-writing skills, hand-eye coordination, and concentration.

Metal Inset

In preschool and kindergarten, my children enjoyed using Metal Insets at school so much that we continued a version of this practice at home as well.  Using the large simple shapes from a wooden large shape puzzle, and easy-to-use shape stencils, we practiced tracing shapes and creating focused, unique designs.  Much like Montessori Metal Insets, we used this creative activity to:

  • Compare shapes and colors, laying the foundation for Geometry
  • Practice how to grip and guide a writing instrument
  • Experiment with the effects of changes in pressure on the pencil
  • Use guide materials (puzzle pieces/stencils) to aid in controlling the movement of the pencil.
  • Using small controlled vertical pencil strokes and dots to fill in shapes, practicing fine motor skills needed for printing letters and numbers.
  • Drawing continuous pencil strokes to trace and infill shapes, practicing fine motor skills needed for cursive script.
  • Experiment with a variety of pencil movements to practice control of pre-writing movements and changing directions.

Puzzle Shape Tracing

As their writing and artistic skills continue to develop, they’ve continued to revisit the basic foundation of this practice, both at school and at home.  Using focused pen strokes and tiny dots, they infill entire coloring pages as well as draw free-hand designs.

As they create these detailed symmetrical patterns and designs, they are practicing early math skills, such as counting and addition, and visually discovering more complex math concepts including multiplication, division and fractions.  For kindergarteners and early elementary age children, a simple mandala coloring book offer a perfect template for developing patterns using radial symmetry.

Patterns Fill

Inspired by their early Metal Inset work and the use of pattern making in both art and math studies, my little artists started implementing these focused coloring techniques throughout their artwork.  As fine-motor skills (and interest!) develop, a more complex mandala book offers new challenges in creating these mathematically-inspired designs.

Patterns Dots

Looking for more creative ways to color?



One thought on “Beyond Coloring

  1. Pingback: Color Mixing and Marbled Eggs | Design in Play

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