When our kids were young my husband and I made a conscious effort to keep passive-entertainment games and devices out of our house, encouraging active play instead. They learned to love creating and making things. We encouraged a lot of drawing because, as this was before the internet, there wasn’t much available for them to color besides the usual clownish cartoon coloring books.
So, it’s thirty years later and the internet has arrived, offering almost every kind of image, instantly. Coloring pages abound. Sadly, the banal princess-themed images and every other variety of infantile cartoon images abound too.
But hark, what light from yonder website breaks! Today there are other choices, many of them wonderful and educational at the same time. Using public domain images we’ve made some coloring pages of our own, using images from stained-glass windows, medieval tapestries, and old woodcuts or etchings. But there are many others of like mind who spend, seemingly, their whole lives finding wonderful images for children to color. This site, for instance, has some wonderful images (as well as some that are not my favorite). Artist and Art Educator Donna Grimm offers coloring pages on every subject from the alphabet, running through Art History, Architecture to bird pages, Bible pages, etc. clear down to Winter Fun.
Here are a few images that Anna Sofia found online and cleaned up to be easily printable and color-able for our little ones. You can click on each one to enlarge it enough to print it full-size.
Historic maps, so full of ships and sea monsters (like this one below of the Mediterranean), can be wonderfully fun coloring for children.
Anna’s not even entirely sure what this one below is, but it’s an old woodcut depicting sea monsters, always something worth coloring.
Albrecht Dürer‘s almost-photo-realistic “Young Hare” was an artistic sensation in the religious-iconography-dominated art world in 1502, but his “Rhinoceros” is what our children love coloring. He did this drawing in 1515, two years before Luther nailed up his 95 theses, entirely from a brief account and sketch of what rhinoceroses looked like, since of course he had never seen one in person.
The Bayeux Tapestry was practically made for coloring. This scene depicts (ostensibly) the legendary death of Harold by way of arrow in the eye, though some now wonder if Harold is actually the figure being hacked down by a sword.
The boys will love the fighting, and the girls will love it when you tell them it’s from a giant embroidery project done by nuns.
Medieval woodcuts are also practically made for coloring, being naturally black and white and with clean lines, and knights and dragons are always a hit with our little ones. The “Sergiant at Lawe” image below is from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
My son David adds another idea:
I’m always on the lookout for good coloring pages for my kids. Well, yesterday I hit a homerun. PATENTS. Black lines on white backgrounds, often high resolution, TONS available on loads of subjects. And they are high-quality technical drawings. I want to instill in my children an appreciation for excellence, so I hope this will do it. And it turns out LucasArts patented lots of toys. :)