Reviewing the The Anti-Coloring Book App by Susan Striker is one of the highlights of my teaching/app reviewing career! I have been using these awesome resources throughout my entire thirty year stint as a special education teacher and am so excited to be sharing this resource as a recent app addition to iTunes. If you want to promote critical thinking skills, foster creativity, and encourage risk taking – this is the app for you and your students! The thinking behind this suite of books is founded on the premise that open-ended questions, with no right or wrong answers, will enable kids to problem solve for themselves and growth will come naturally with experience.
We corresponded with Susan Striker, the brainchild behind the ANTI-COLORING BOOKS®, one of the most ingenious concepts in creative teaching tools ever. I have been using her Anti-Coloring books for motivating general education as well as special needs students, along with many other teachers, professional educators, museum instructors and of course parents! Susan Striker, with her prolific and inspirational efforts to bring critical thinking skills to the forefront of education via self-expression has been a trusted and respected resource spanning several decades. Her first book was published in 1978.
Susan passionately states: I have been teaching art for many, many years. Seeing my students deeply involved in the process of self expression daily has been a great source of joy for me in my life. Children learn to solve problems by solving problems. They learn how to use materials by using materials. In my efforts to be the best possible art teacher, I practiced radical passivity. My students learned to find their own answers to their questions. Nevertheless, it has been frustrating to know that as soon as they left the art room, my students would be coloring in coloring books at home and coloring in maps and adult-drawn pictures in their other classes. I realized that good parents and fine teachers simply thought that they needed to know a lot more about art than they felt they did in order to supervise art activities. In 1978 when I wrote my first ANTI-COLORING BOOK, that became the first alternative to coloring books.
When drawing programs and art apps came on the scene, I viewed them at first as simply another art material for potential artists to explore. I was satisfied that they had to be better than all the shooting and killing games and apps that I was seeing! Too soon I realized that what children were mastering was more like a technological coloring book than it was a tool for creative expression. On most drawing programs and games, areas “magically” fill with color at the touch of a paint can, clip art has become a substitute for original drawings, all of the problems have already been solved and there are no questions to figure out answers to. This app was designed to simulate the experience of working with traditional materials…To get back to “smart kids” instead of “smart apps”, I set out to create an app that closely simulated the actual experience of drawing and painting with real art materials. To color in an area, children have to use all of their fine motor skills instead of a magic button. The different art materials provide different effects, and making choices becomes important. The fantasy, imagination and problem solving that the ANTI-COLORING BOOKS® provided are now in an app format that can be used as an alternative art material on a quest for creativity.
Susan says it best when she describes her own app: “Incredible! An app that encourages children to imagine, create, draw, think, plan, solve problems and read! No shooting, crushing or killing!” All of the kids and adults that tried this app out couldn’t seem to put it down, it was a smash hit with all ages! The Anti-Coloring Book App has a shelf-life of FOREVER! But wait, it gets even better – Susan will be following up with more of her incredible ideas in upcoming apps! Big shout-out to Matt Meyers, one of NSBA’s “20 To Watch” Leaders in Educational Technology, and CEO of Slate & Tablets. Matt did the coding for this terrific app!