It’s day 2 of summer break here, and the forecast in Atlanta for the foreseeable future is rain, rain, and…
You guessed it, more rain.
Insert obligatory rain condemnation song here.
So it’s a good thing that I’ve been slaving away at my computer for way too much time over the past few evenings, creating homemade alphabet coloring pages while binge-watching Sense8 with the hubs.
Why in god’s name would anyone do that in their spare time, you ask?
A few days ago, Matt and I were comparing the academic progress of Hugo, our 2 year old, to Sofia, our 4.5 year old when she was his age. I know, parents of the year, amiright?
Matt casually mentioned to me after putting the kids down for the evening, “did you know that Hugo doesn’t know his letters yet? Or his colors?”
But he’s wrong. Hugo totally sings the ABC song with me and I’m pretty sure he knows the color yellow. I mean, he says, “yellow” every time we ask him what color something is, so at least part of the time, he’s completely right.
Yes, I know. He’s only 2. I swear I’m not a tiger mom. No, really!
But, as anyone with more than 1 child will admit, it is impossible not to make small comparisons between your children. Not in a bad, judgy way, just in a purely observational way. Sleep patterns, eating habits, motor skills, temperament, etc.
Even if you don’t want to. Even if you start the sentence with, “I’m not trying to compare, but…” — because anything that comes after that is a comparison.
Sorry, not sorry. Everyone does it. Even you. I know it.
Sofia was a very early talker and knew her letters, numbers, and colors by sight before she was 2 years old. She was also talking in full sentences. And I’m not talking just 2-3 words strung together. A few days after she started a 2 mornings/week preschool class at 19 months old, another parent saw me standing outside of the toddler class and said, “I heard there’s a kid in there who’s already talking in full sentences”.
I didn’t admit that it was Sofia. Because, you know, modesty.
Of course, Hugo is a different child and equally as clever as Sofia, but he’s never had the undivided attention that Sofia received when she was a baby/toddler. She and I would read books for hours, all day long when she was young. When we walked to the park together, she’d point at things and I’d say “white flower, red wagon, blue house, pink bicycle. How many petals on that yellow flower, Sofia? Let’s count them together. One, two, three…”
You get my point.
But Hugo has had to go with the flow. No hours of reading books and taking walks with just me. Plus he’s a different child. More active. His physical capabilities at every milestone has been better than Sofia. He’s also much more of a social butterfly, whereas Sofia can sometimes be painfully shy and awkward. But he has a shorter attention span, so he won’t sit for longer than a book or two at a time. Is it birth order? Gender?
Or maybe he’s just a different child. He’s a Hugo. Not a Sofia. And he happens to be perfectly amazing.
BUT. I still ended up starting this alphabet coloring pages project!
The reason was 2-fold: 1) learning letters for Hugo while he colors, and 2) letter writing practice for Sofia, who is starting to write more and seems to be exhibiting some pre-reading skills.
But why? When there are so many coloring books out there in the world?
We have countless coloring books and preschool workbooks, which are great. But both kids only color for a couple of minutes at a time before tiring of them.
They’ll often scribble at bit at a page and then quickly move on to another. No matter how many times you ask them to “finish coloring that page first”. And once they’ve been scribbled on, they consider the page as good as dead.
And lately, Sofia has been drawing more than coloring, so every coloring book’s blank space has turned into a doodling spot. And since she’s just learning how to draw, she likes to see pictures of items she wants to draw so she can try to imitate them, and then searches for a blank sheet of paper to draw on.
So, instead of doing my usual quick Amazon search which ends in a stack of coloring books on my doorstep within 24-48 hours, I decided that I could just quickly create some coloring pages that fit our needs. That I could print out on demand. Endless times.
Hugo and I can chat about the letters and pictures while he colors, and we’ll chat about the colors he’s using at the same time, too.
Since they are only single sided pages, I thought Sofia could flip the page over after she’s done coloring to draw to her heart’s content. A lot of the images I selected (by doing an online search of free “coloring pages clip art” by animal/item) include animals that Sofia loves to draw. Plus, I inserted at line at the bottom of each page so she can practice writing her letters there if she is so inclined.
Bonus: they are single sheets so I can stuff a few into my purse when we go out to eat and not take an entire coloring book (or three).
And since this is a Powerpoint file, I can switch out the images once they tire of them (yes, Powerpoint, and not some fancy design app — I was a consultant in my former life, remember? Not a graphic designer).
I introduced these to Sofia while Hugo was napping this afternoon, and she immediately grabbed the O page. Not a shocker for my owl lover. After coloring the pictures, she flipped the page over and drew a beautiful little owl (completely unprompted). Honestly, it’s her best owl yet.
So I consider these pages a total win!
If you’d like to print these out for your kiddos too, I’ve shared the file below. Feel free to download and print your heart out! And of course, when you want to swap out the owl for an octagon, you can do that too.
So let the rainy summer break continue! (but seriously, only a few more days, I beg you, Atlanta).
– Julie xo
PS: What are some of your favorite, easy, rainy day activities? Please share in the comments below. It’s basically going to rain almost every weekday for the next week. I need ideas!