Learn how to offer creative, open-ended, and developmentally appropriate alternatives to coloring books for kids.
Updated January 2024
You might think that I’m a fan of coloring books and coloring contests; I love art and creativity and have a whole career focused on making art with kids!
I think coloring within the lines is overrated. There is no real benefit to it except neatness and an adult concept of what is right and fitting. And kids naturally begin coloring inside the lines over time as they develop, grow, and most importantly, care.
But why give them lines to color inside in the first place? They are perfectly capable of drawing their own lines and pictures and deciding where to color those lines and pictures.
And that—making your own decisions about line, shape, color and placement—that is the very core of making art.
Creating something from scratch is art. Coloring inside someone else’s lines? It might be relaxing and even fun at times, but it’s not truly art.
Creative Alternatives Coloring Books for Kids
1. Try a blank piece of paper
They can draw and scribble and color their own art. Encourage your kids to draw and scribble and create at whatever developmental stage they are at. You don’t have to understand their art making. You can talk about the colors they are using, ask questions, and make observations.
2. Try a drawing prompt
If your child is four or older and wants something other than a blank page, consider offering drawing prompts or art prompts sometimes. Drawing prompts are open-ended, creative, and are great for travel and waiting rooms. Check out our printable book of 30 Days of Drawing Prompts!
3. Play a drawing game
Drawing games are fun, not just for kids, but for the whole family! Check out our list of 12 Kids’ Drawing Games for Creative Fun and try a few out.
4. Try a drawing book
We LOVE the book Invitation to Draw, by our founder Jean Van’t Hul, which has 99 creative drawing prompts.
But if your child is expressing interest in learning how to draw certain things or learning how to draw more accurately, try a step-by-step drawing book. Here are a few to consider:
- Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals
- Ed Emberley’s Make a World
- All the Things: How to Draw Books for Kids
- How to Draw Adorable: Joyful Lessons for Making Cute Art
5. Check out our Drawing Skills Master Class!
If your child would like to build their confidence and skills as an artist, you’ll love our three-part Drawing Skills Master Class for kids! Kids can learn to draw at home with 3 unique modules: Line & Shape, Light & Shadow, and Perspective. Each module contains at-home video lessons and easy-to-follow printable workbooks.
More Drawing Ideas for Kids
- 16 Drawing Printable Art Activities for Kids
- 12 Kids’ Drawing Games for Creative Fun
- Kids Drawing: How to Encourage Creativity, Skills & Confidence
- Observational Drawing for Kids
- The BEST Art Supplies for Drawing
- Drawing for Kids: Tips for Encouraging the Reluctant Artist
Does your child want to explore the world of drawing and expand their skills? Check out our three-part Drawing Skills Master Class for kids! Your child can learn to draw at home with 3 unique modules: Line & Shape, Light & Shadow, and Perspective. With at-home video lessons and easy-to-follow printable workbooks, your child will build skills and confidence as they learn to draw!
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