This past school year, it has been my privilege to “homeschool” my preschooler. I can’t say anything but positives about the experience. It has brought us closer as a family and I have seen so much growth in my preschooler and in myself as a parent.
One of my favorite parts of our preschool routine has been a regular “coloring time” on Wednesdays, at which time my 2-year-old, 4-year-old and I sit down with crayons and blank paper. Coloring on blank paper was all but unheard of in our family before fall of 2008, when I dove into Waldorf head first. Early on I choose to relegate our coloring books to the top shelf of our craft closet, soon to be forgotten. My daughter was a bit off-kilter at first. She didn’t know where to start with blank paper. Even now, she’s stumped at times. My son, on the other hand, who has only ever drawn on blank paper, goes at it with gusto. He already tells us that his 2-year-old squiggles are daddy or a house or a cat. I think his imagination flows more freely because he’s never been hemmed in by coloring book lines or been made to feel that a “proper” bear looks like Winnie the Pooh.
One of the things I enjoy most about our coloring times is the crayons we use. Of course, I grew up with Crayola. Turns out there’s something way better – beeswax crayons. These crayons are made in Germany with a beeswax base, instead of with oil, making them more eco-friendly, more vivid and surprisingly sweet-smelling. They’re pricey (natural always is, right?), but they last a long time. Also, the colors can blend, so red and yellow make orange, etc. which actually can create beautiful effects, while teaching a little science in the process.
We have both Stockmar’s block crayons and Stockmar’s stick crayons, both of which are available at www.EuphoriaBaby.com. The block crayons are rectangular blocks. At times, when my son doesn’t feel like coloring, he’ll actually make towers with them! The stick crayons are nice and thick – like Crayola’s chunky crayons for tots. But, although they seem tougher than Crayola’s, they do break. I hate that. It’s never seemed to bother my children much, but broken crayons just grate at my nerves. I attempt to limit my youngest to a particular set of stick crayons that’s already pretty broken, but I’m sure you can imagine how insistently he goes after his older sister’s set.
If I was to do it again, I’d save the stick crayons for kindergarten or first grade, and only have block crayons for now. And, that’s not just because I hate broken crayons. When I color alongside the children (which I do about 1/2 of the time), I’m finding I prefer the block crayons. You can set the background awash in an even, pale blue with a few swipes of the blue block. You can make interesting and useful shapes by twisting the blocks as you move them. And, it seems easiest to blend colors when I’m using the block crayons.
I recently purchased a DVD by Sieglinde de Francesca, called “Coloring wtih Block Crayons: Emphasizing the Primary Colors”. It is available at a great Waldorf homeschooling site www.ALittleGardenFlower.com. The DVD has been a treat. I’ve learned simple things that make coloring more fun for all three of us, as well as worked on some drawings that are developing my extremely limited coloring skills (I hated coloring as a child). I tell you, it’s absolutely breathtaking what can be created with three simple block crayons – red, yellow and blue. Here’s a great teaser on YouTube for the full DVD that’s sure to have you inspired to try some block crayons!