I love to color; I have as long as I can remember. Even before we had Peanut, I still liked crayons and coloring books, and one of the things I looked forward to most as a new mom was getting to color and do arts and crafts with my kids. Imagine my sadness when Peanut had no interest in it whatsoever.
I tried everything. I got an enormous Sesame Street coloring book with a big picture of Elmo’s head on the cover (it’s a super-sized coloring book–it was taller than my toddler when we bought it). Nada. I put sheets of sandpaper under coloring book pages. Zip. I ripped apart part of a diaper box to expose the wavy parts of corrugated cardboard and slid that under the coloring book pages. Squatola. Nothing I tried worked.
Then, in a moment of inspiration (desperation?), I tried the bathtub.
It turns out that the bathtub was, for us, the ideal place to show our vision-impaired kiddo the joy of coloring. The walls are white, they’re straight up/down rather than horizontal like book pages, the colors show up as high contrast. Once he started coloring in the tub, Peanut latched on to the joy of coloring in general.
Now, Peanut is a coloring fool–it’s one of his absolute favorite things to do. He loves coloring on his Magnadoodle. He loves coloring in chalk on his two-sided easel (the easel was an excellent buy, by the way–we can put pages on it so that they’re horizontal, like in the tub, so he can see them better). He will color on the TV in crayon if he and crayons are left unsupervised (crayon comes off of standard TV screens quite easily, by the way). He happily colored in pen in my planner when I dozed off this morning while he was sitting with me. My kiddo will color on anything at any time given opportunity–and I couldn’t be happier.
Over time, we’ve found that some bathtub art supplies work better than others. Here are the ones we’ve tried out and my opinions of each:
Crayola Bath Paints. I don’t remember our set saying that they were 3D, but it’s been over a year since I bought them, so it could just be me. These were what we started with. The tubes are hard to use for little hands: you have to squeeze while you draw to get the paint to come out. However, they’re great as first fingerpaints. I squeezed bands of color onto the tub wall and helped Peanut fingerpaint with them–the paint is runny enough that it’s easy to manipulate in the tub. This product is how I got Peanut to start coloring.
Crayola Bathtub Crayons. I have mixed feelings on these. At first, I hated them: they are little waxish crayons in plastic sleeves, kind of like the sleeves for the push-up erasers people use along with their mechanical pencils. The crayons don’t stay in the sleeves worth a darn. It’s been months, and I’ve finally gotten a few to stay stuck in there by sheer determination and force; the plastic sleeves, in a word, suck. The crayons also bleed in the tub–it’s like being wet pulls the color out of them. It’s not a huge drain, but it does make a notable difference in the brightness of the color. That said, now that Peanut’s older, these are easy to use: the art in the photo above is made with these crayons (most of them without their stupid little plastic holders).
Sesame Street Finger Paint Bubble Bath. These smell–strongly–but not in a bad way. Any Sesame Street purchase helps support their nonprofit, Sesame Workshop, so you’re making a positive difference in the world when buying these. However, the paints really don’t work very well. In my experience, they’re really thick on the tub wall–even when Peanut rubs his little hands through the paint, the paint won’t smear. It’s not runny enough to finger paint with. This might be different in warmer months (we got these for Christmas), but so far, I’d say to skip them.
Avon Kids Bath Time Body Paints. This is one of the first things I tried. The smell is very strong (we got blue, which is uber-coconutty), and they’re designed to be rubbed on your kid, not on your tub. The color isn’t very dark, so Peanut didn’t notice it at all when we first got it, and he wondered why on earth mama was trying to rub him with this funky plastic thing. It is soap, which is nice, but it really doesn’t work for tub-coloring purposes. The package is the same as for roll-on deodorant, so you could do some fun practical jokes with this stuff if you’re mischievous and play your cards right. (Ahem. Not that I would be the sort of person to do such a thing . . . )