“Coloring In”

DrawingPadApp“Today we are going to do coloring!” The crowd roars “yay!” And then I explain, “not coloring on paper, coloring with our bodies!” Cue the puzzled look! Here’s what we did…

This works best with 4, 5, and 6 year olds!

Partner up the class and still working on Partner A and Partner 1, ask them to decide. Then ask one partner to make a shape with a lot of space in it. It helps to model what that might look like. A frozen shape with “holes” in it.

One partner makes the shape and the other partner “colors in” the empty space with all of their body parts. Encourage them to use shoulders, and feet, and head, and legs and many other body parts. Otherwise, they will only use their hands and then it just looks like they are waving their hands around their partners body.

Eventually they are improving the movement around their partner. When that partner thinks they have it all colored in, they then choose a shape to make and freeze. That tells the other partner that it’s their turn to color in their shape.

It keeps switching back and forth, until you feel like they have gone back and forth a few times. I tried to encourage them to make different shapes every time too, just to make it more interesting! It’s so beautiful to watch! I put on some instrumental music and it seems I could have put it up on stage. They were creating a dance!

I just had open classes last week and we shared this with the parents. They loved it!

Have you ever tried teaching your preschoolers negative space? Have you ever tried this “coloring in” exercise? I would love to hear!

p.s. I did this exercise for the first time in college modern dance. The fact that my 4 year olds could do it, just completely blows my mind. 🙂 

p.p.s. the drawing above was the best I could do for a frozen shape with space in it. You get the idea, right? 



  1. I love this activity! One thing I learned the hard way was to make sure the first dancer making a shape makes a shape that they can stay still in FOR A LONG TIME. I’ve had kindergartners make arabesques, partners try to color under the arabesque, the arabesque leg falls down on the coloring body, and voila! Tears! Since that happened, when I introduce this kind of activity, we talk about making shapes we can stay in. This limits the choices a little, but I’d rather have everyone participating than have dancers need to take breaks because they are upset that they got hurt.

    1. Author

      Good add on to the lesson Danielle! I had a lot of student pick upside down shapes, but not to many balancing ones. I’m so happy you do this too! 🙂

  2. Did this with my 6-8 year old Intro to Modern Class today. They loved it! It was so interesting to see the creative choices that they made.

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