Preschoolers are a difficult group to educate and train. As a teacher or parent your role is to instill positive habits and information in the minds of your students. However, preschoolers are a different sort of student. They have very short attention spans and they seem only interested in a couple of things. Preschoolers enjoy watching movies about animated animals, eating, sleeping, laughing, and going to the bathroom. They love to play and go outside but when it comes to studying most young kids have little patience. Give them a task and they are quickly doing something else.
One of the few ways to get preschooler’s attentions is to conduct small competitions among them. You obviously don’t want to instill an overly competitive spirit in young children, but a little healthy competition can go a long way to teach valuable lessons. One of the few activities that children actually enjoy at the preschool age is coloring. Give kids a coloring book full of outlines of their favorite animals and they will immediately pay attention. Even if the child has a very short attention span they will probably stop for a few minutes to color.
Combining children’s propensity for competition and their interest in coloring can produce a winning combination. If you want to captivate a group of preschoolers one way to do so is to have a coloring competition. Coloring competitions don’t require a big final prize or reward. Most kids will get involved in coloring competition simply because they want to win or color the best picture.
Before holding the competition you need to explain what makes for a great coloring job. Show the children examples of great coloring. Another good way to do so is to give them a picture of the thing you want them to color. Explain that they need to color inside the lines in appropriate colors. Give them some direction so that they know how they can win. You can set a time limit if you want but most kids will simply color until they are done. This is ultimately an art competition and not a sprint. You want more refined and careful work and not a sprint to the finish line.
Encourage the children as they work and comment on their work. Praise the kids that are doing careful work. Help them to see why they are doing good work. Don’t discourage the children that are doing poorly; help the kids that don’t seem to be coloring well by showing how they could be doing better. When the competition is over reward the child that has done the best by giving them the prize. However, it is more important that you explain why one coloring job won out over the others. Explain that one child has won because they colored in the lines, were careful and focused, and used the appropriate colors.
In most cases the kids will be impressed by the winning coloring job and they will want to improve their own coloring. With repeated coloring competitions you will see many children improving. The purpose of this entire activity is not only to teach them a fun artistic skill, but to also teach them the value of focus and hard work. They will learn that a careful, well executed job produces a satisfying product. Hang up the best work on the wall so that students can look at it for years to come. You can also use the preschoolers as a group of judges to determine which coloring job is the best.