Tuesday 10 August 2021

Child Engagement in Museums: DIY Colour-in Pages

The first instalment in a series of guest blog posts by Shiona Herbert of Ignite Your Audience

A small table with pencils, textas and colour-in pages will always attract the eye of young visitors in a museum. It's an area that they'll naturally gravitate toward for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's the only thing that is allowed to be touched in a museum space (and boy, do kids want to touch things in museums); it might be the only furniture in the museum suited to their height; or it might be a space that family members encourage them toward as Mum's and Dad's are grateful for the bit of bonus time they can have to themselves to stroll through the collection! It's much more pleasant seeing kids absorbed in a creative endeavor than watching them like a hawk so that they don’t disrupt precious artefacts.

You could choose any old colour-in but something unrelated to your museum lacks authenticity and the opportunity to make a connection to the items in your collection. If you have lots of tractors and vintage farming equipment, provide colour-ins related to this. If you have an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, find sport related colouring sheets. Or maybe you’ve got some wonderful dolls and toys on display – provide colour-in sheets related to this theme.

There are plenty of free colour-in sheets available on Google, just conduct a search of your chosen theme and collect half a dozen suitable images, print them out, and photocopy a bunch of them. If you’ve got a little more time on your hands, consider making your own colour-in designs using images from your photo collection.

How Do I Do That? 
  1. Find photos in your collection that you think will connect to a child audience.
  2. Scan them to create a digitised version of the photo.
  3. Open the image in Photoshop, another photo-editing program or even Word!
  4. Apply a treatment to the image to make it black and white and adjust the brightness and contrast to make the image more simplistic.
  5. Place your museum logo somewhere on the page in a spot that doesn't detract from the image.
  6. Print it out, have a go at colouring it in yourself and check if it feels right for colouring.
  7. Print or photocopy a small pile of them with textas, crayons or pencils, ready for the young visitors to your museum.
If you don't have photo-editing software, you can download a guide on how to do this in Word here.

More Ideas
  • Take it to another level and have a cleared wall or large pin-up board to display completed colour-in sheets. Remember to ask your artists to sign their work! It may just prompt a visit from other family members to see their children's colour-in art displayed in the museum!
  • Have a whole set of different museum colour-in’s stapled together and ready to give out to those who show lots of interest in the colour-in pages. Everyone loves a freebie to take home and while they work on the colouring sheets, it will prompt them to think about the museum again. Who knows, it might even provoke them to ask Mum or Dad to take them for another visit.
  • Many little country towns have colour-in pages included in the community newsletter or local paper. Including a museum-colour-in page is a double win: kids get to colour something of local relevance and your museum receives a valuable marketing opportunity.
If you really enjoy creating these personalised museum colour-ins, consider other platforms and places where they may be welcome. For example, there are often kids attending sports practice and you could create a series of Sport Legends colour-in pages of former local team photos. Or you might have some absolute cracker photos from agricultural shows of the past. Use these for a Let’s Put on a Show collection of colour-ins and make them available at the next town show.

The colour-in sheets shown on this page are from our Milk, Cream + Butter education resource.

This is the first instalment in a series of guest blog posts by Shiona Herbert of Ignite Your Audience.

No comments: