Bonding over colouring pencils

School holidays started a few days early for Little E, but poor weather conditions have kept us all indoors during the morning when J is still in school.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t get a chance to really spend a lot of time alone with Little E in the recent months, as I am either tending to Thumper or helping J revise for his end-of-year tests. However, Little E has been a very supportive sister to her two brothers and just does her own thing, playing nicely by herself. Part of this is because of her own independent nature, but I often feel that she has learned to entertain herself out of necessity.

This morning, Thumper was feeling very tired, so I put him down for a nap early, which meant that I had some extra time. Instead of using this time to catch up on household paperwork, I decided to sit with Little E and do some colouring, which is one of her favourite activities.

I went online and printed out some colouring pages for us to colour together. I decided not to use the usual kids colouring pages that I normally find, but one of the ‘colouring for adults’ pages. Johanna Basford, who started off this adult colouring craze with her book, ‘Secret Garden’, has a few sample pages from her book available as a free printable so I printed those off. (If you like, you can scroll to the bottom of the page for the links).

I personally have never really enjoyed colouring, which I always viewed as a tedious school activity meant to train children to focus and to develop fine motor skills. However, sitting down and colouring with Little E for an hour was a very different experience altogether.

First of all, there is that sense of achievement as you fill a small area with a colour of your choosing. Additionally, as you focus on the simplicity of the action, which is to create something of beauty, it is incredibly relaxing.

One of my friends once told me that having a kid meant that she had an excuse to buy colouring books for herself. At the time, I remember laughing at her quirkiness, but as Little E and I worked on a colouring page together, I began to see how therapeutic it might be. I can now understand why there are colouring books for adults now!


Secondly, it was nice to be able to collaborate on a small art project with Little E and it was interesting to see how organic the collaboration became, especially when I didn’t try to dictate her actions or give her any advice or feedback other than ‘That’s really good! I like that!’.

We started out by colouring in separate corners of the page, but after a while, I began to notice how Little E liked to mix colours within a space, and she noticed how I liked to colour in small areas in one colour before changing colour pencils. We then started to copy each other’s style, but adding our own touch to it by varying the colour choices – Little E tended towards high-contrast colour-combinations, whilst I chose complementary colours. By the end of the hour, we were each colouring over the whole page filling in tiny portions that the other might have missed.

Lastly, Little E didn’t stop singing, humming or chatting to me for the entire hour so I learned a lot about the things that she was learning in school, and about her friends in class. She told stories about the owl that we were colouring, and made up a little song about it, and was generally very entertaining. It was so much fun, I am looking forward to our next colouring session together!

In preparation for that, I’ve found a ton of great colouring resources online, which are free to print with permission from the artist! You can even print them out to make your own mini colouring activity book – so great for long plane journeys, waiting rooms and wedding dinners!

Free Printable Colouring Pages (featuring a large number of owl colouring pages of course) just click on the links to download and print:

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5

Enchanted Forest/Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford: Page 1-3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6

Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8

Steampunk Designs by Marty Noble: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

Words to Live By by Dawn Nicole Designs: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Bookmarks

Easy Peasy and Fun by Andrea Vucajnk: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5-6 Page 7 Page 8-9

Made by Joel: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7

Rachel Beyer: Page 1-3 Page 4

By the way, many of the independent artists who host free printable colouring pages on their websites are very dependant on views and clickthroughs in order to keep those pages free-to-download on their sites. If you have used and enjoyed any colouring pages from the links above, please do take some time to explore each independent artist’s main page by clicking on their names (underlined in bold).

I promise that you won’t be disappointed – I’ve taken great pains in to find artists who do beautiful work and who share many other family-friendly creative projects on their websites. Not only will you also find more free colouring pages on each site that I have not included in the links above, you’ll also be supporting a starving artist, whilst keeping the colouring pages free-to-download for everybody. That’s three good things for the low, low price of one click!


16 thoughts on “Bonding over colouring pencils

  1. I love the coloured piece which you and Little E created, and owls! How we love owls in our house too!! Thanks for sharing those links. I recently (ok, not that recently) bought an adult colouring book for myself and the little one has been showing an interest in colouring it in together with me. I printed one or two separate piece for her to colour while I do mine because I was selfish and didn’t want to share my precious book, but I somehow relented when she kept asking to colour my page. And I’m glad I said yes because just like you, I enjoyed colouring together with her 🙂

    You are absolutely right, it is therapeutic!

  2. Such a meaningful post. You got to learn more about your daughter, she got to spend uninterrupted time with her mom, the page looks amazingly beautiful and a starving artist gets recognized because you linked up. Loving this post to bits!

    • No worries, do support the indie artists by clicking on their websites as they have very generously provided the free downloads for everyone to use! Some of them do have colouring books (or more printable colouring pages) for sale for a very reasonable price as well – worth checking it out!

    • Oh yes, some of the artists that I have linked to also have colouring books for sale on their websites for quite reasonable prices and they would make lovely gifts!

  3. Thanks for the sharing the free printables. I bought an adult colouring book when it was on sale and my son actually colored with me. Who says those are only for adults, right? 🙂

    • Too right! I think they just market them to adults because they tend to have multiple smaller sections to colour which requires well-developed fine motor skills. Children’s colouring books have very large sections to colour – if you ask me, these are a lot less fun to colour in, even for a child, as it’s more tiring!

  4. I feel like hoarding onto my kids’ colour pencils for these beautiful pieces but I really wish I have more time for something therapeutic like that! Maybe next time I should consider colouring instead of heading to the facial spa. (saves some money too hehehe)

  5. Pingback: Colour together – our favourite colouring books and materials | Owls Well

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