Thursday, February 11, 2016

Preschool Coloring Development

 This year I have a fantastic group of 3 year olds who are ready to explore the world with me! 

My favorite activity during Friends and Family is when the kiddos bring in a photo of their family to share with the class. This year, I passed out their photos and a plain white sheet of paper. The instructions were to draw me a picture of their families. 

The results were so wonderful, I just had to share a few! Other than in a textbook, I had never seen such a perfect example of the development of coloring in preschool age children. 

I did some digging for those of you who may be a little rusty on your development. This is taken from the Early Childhood Central Website


These stages are taken from Bob Steel’s Draw Me a Story: An Illustrated Exploration of Drawing-as-Language, ©1997.


This stage is typical of children between 18 months and 3 years.
  • Scribbles are random. Children are exploring art materials in a playful way.
  • Scribbles move from uncontrolled to progressively more controlled.
  • This stage allows children to learn to hold a pencil as well as to determine whether they are left or right-handed.
  • While you may not see it, some scribbles are named. The child will point to an object found in the scribble.
Scribbling helps children with:

Physical Development

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fine and gross muscle development
  • Hand manipulation

Language Art

  • Naming or labeling
  • Conversation


  • Stroking
  • Finger dexterity
  • Fine muscle control


  • Self-confidence
  • Independence
  • Initiative
  • Enjoyment

Pre-Schematic Stage

This stage is typical of children between the ages of 2 to 4.
  • Drawings become more complex, although they are usually unrealistic.
  • Children will tend to use their favorite colors, rather than represent objects in accurate colors.
  • Drawings of people are very simple with few features.
  • Objects in drawings float in space. They are not anchored.
  • “Tadpole Figure People” are drawn with a very large head on a small body with extended arms.
  • Interiors and exteriors are shown at the same time. (X-Ray Drawings)
Children continue to develop increased hand-eye coordination, fine and gross muscle development, and self-confidence during this stage.
Additionally, they are developing increased abilities in:
  • Observation
  • Thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Feelings of competence

Can you distinguish between the two different stages? Notice how the drawings focus on the heads and then the limbs are drawn from there. This is a great example of the "tadpole figure people." Some are more detailed than others.  

What other ways have you been able to see clear textbook examples in real life? We'd love for you to share them with us! 



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