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Toddler - Week #54

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Week 54: A Budding Artist

By Meg Leonard, edHelperBaby

           Your 54-week-old has probably made great strides in his gross motor skills. His confidence as a walker may have increased and he may even be close to running as he moves around the house. He may show greater coordination with each passing day. While his gross motor skills are thriving, you can also take this opportunity to work with his fine motor skills by introducing him to drawing with crayons.


           To make this experience a positive one for all, don't just hand your baby a box of crayons and see what happens. Make sure to stay close by your baby at all times. While crayons are non-toxic, you still want to monitor her closely to make sure that she doesn't bite off a piece of the crayon or draw all over the floor or walls. Large sheets of paper will make it harder for your baby to accidentally color on something other than the paper. It may work best to have your first coloring time on the floor so that you both have a lot of room to spread out.


           Use large crayons and big sheets of paper or newspaper and show your baby how to draw with the crayons. If this is his first exposure to crayons, demonstrate how they are used by drawing a mark on the paper. Then, put the crayon in your baby's hand and guide it along the paper to show him what the crayon does when it touches a surface. See if he will make marks on the paper on his own.


Fostering Your Baby's Imagination
    Book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
       If you are looking for a book to teach your baby about imagination, then read Harold and the Purple Crayon. This classic book is a beautiful story of a little boy who uses his imagination to draw the world as he wishes it was. The illustrations are done in purple and the contrast on the page is striking. As Harold sets out on his imaginary journey, he faces some challenges along the way. He needs to figure out a way to proceed on his journey. Eventually, he uses his purple crayon and problem solving skills to return to the place he loves best - his bedroom.


Real Life with Baby
           We have been slowly introducing Mary to crayons for the past few months. I bought large crayons that are specifically for children ages 12 months and up. They have plastic covers on the bottom which are supposed to make it easier for your baby to hold the crayon in the palm of her hand. Our first few times with crayons have not produced much in the way of drawing. Mary has always seemed much more interested in trying to put them in her mouth than making marks on any papers.

       Since she is officially one year old now, I thought that she might be ready to understand how crayons are used. One night after dinner, I spread two sheets of newspaper on the kitchen floor and got out the crayons. I called Mary over to me and she willingly came to see what I was up to. I took one of the crayons and drew a mark on the newspaper, explaining what I was doing as I drew. Next, I gave Mary the crayon and encouraged her to imitate me.

       She put the tip of the crayon down on the paper and not straight in her mouth, so that was progress. However, she didn't seem very interested in drawing anything on the newspaper. I took a second crayon in a different color and drew more marks on the paper. I was hoping that she would see what I was doing and imitate me with her own crayon. She made two tiny marks, but that was it. Then, she became more interested in seeing if she could hold both my crayon and her crayon (she could). She also tried to lick the plastic holder and put the crayon part in her mouth. We continued for about ten minutes, while I continued to write on the newspaper and encourage her to draw, too.

       We stopped our drawing session rather abruptly when Mary managed to bite off the tip of the blue crayon. I fished the piece out of her mouth and put the crayons away. I'm not sure if the specially designed crayons are easier for her to use than regular jumbo crayons. When she finds a pen on the floor, Mary will pick it up and move it back and forth, as though she's writing. I think she has a better understanding of what to do with a traditional writing utensil than the special crayons that look like toys.

       On the next night, I decided to see how Mary would do with some traditional crayons. I haven't bought any jumbo crayons yet, so these were just the standard sized crayons. I took a piece of junk mail and showed her how to make a mark with the blue crayon. She stood on the paper and bent over to move the crayon on the paper, making marks as she did so. She made a few marks from a standing position and then sat down on the paper to make a few more. This crayon seemed a lot easier for her to handle and she seemed to know exactly what to do with it. She didn't try to put this one in her mouth either, although I was keeping a very close eye on her after the previous night's encounter. I think that the crayons designed for toddlers are too much like her other toys and that's why Mary wants to put them in her mouth. The traditional crayon is different from all her other toys and so she knows that it has a different job.

       Unfortunately, Harold and the Purple Crayon did not hold Mary's attention for more than three pages. It was promptly pushed to the floor. I thought it fit in very well with our activities this week, but apparently Mary isn't ready for stories that require some imagination. We'll put it aside for now and try again in a few months!


Express Yourself!
           While your baby draws on the paper, you may find it soothing to do some drawing yourself. Doodle on the paper next to your baby or get your own coloring book. Coloring can be very therapeutic and calming. If this isn't your thing, find another outlet for your creativity. You can use another art medium, build something, or sew. Whatever you choose to do, allow yourself the chance to express your creative side. It will help you to encourage your baby to be creative as well as make you smile.


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