Why Are We Coloring in Math Class?
Today, as my 6th grade students were working on a color by number in math class (which I thought was a fun, different way to practice math), one of them asked, “How does coloring help with math?”
- The question was asked with a “there’s no reason I should have to do this” attitude.
I explained that:
- Coloring helps with motor skills.
- Coloring helps us to use the brain in a different way.
- Exercising the brain in different ways could help in all things that require thinking (not just math).
I don’t think he really appreciated my answer:-)
So, I decided to do a little research, to see what I could find and bring back to share with him and the rest of the math class.
Most of what I found (I didn’t spend a super-long time searching, because I didn’t have that much time!) was related to:
- Benefits of coloring for young children (and did relate to math skills)
- Benefits for adults
Here are a few benefits I found, as coloring relates to adults (which all those middle school math students will be turning into soon enough):
Benefits of Coloring
Coloring can help delay the loss of fine motor skills as people age. Coloring may also help fight cognitive loss, especially if challenging pieces are completed every so often.
While I didn’t necessarily find research to answer my student’s exact question, what I did find was quite interesting and can certainly be applicable to middle school math students!
Anecdotally, I’d add that when I spend time coloring, my mind wanders a bit….thinking, exploring ideas, brainstorming. While my hand is coloring and my brain is being stimulated, I’ve often thought of solutions to problems and stumbled upon excellent new ideas:-)
If you know of other articles or published research to support the role of coloring in improving math skills, please let us know in the comments! This post was originally written in 2015, so there may be new research by the time you read this!
In a few more recent blog posts, I wrote about:
- Why it’s important to include coloring in math even if your students are virtual.
- What types of coloring you can include!