Why your child should work on a vertical surface and 15 activities to try

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What you should offer an Easel to your child

In this blog post, I am giving 8 reasons why your child should work on a vertical surface, such as an easel.

My first child received an Easel when she was only 2 years old and since, both my children have enjoyed it. One side chalkboard, one side for felt pens and the addition of a roll of paper make it a very versatile and complete tool.

But why should you encourage your child to work on vertical surfaces?

Benefits of working on a vertical surface:

  1. Gross Motor skills:

While practising activities on a vertical surface, your child will move around, use his whole body to go from side to another side of the surface he is working at. He engages his whole body.

  1. Cross the midline

If your child paints on an easel, in order to paint on the whole surface, she will cross the midline several times.

What is the midline? The body’s mid-line is an imaginary line down the centre of the body that divides the body into left and right. Crossing the body’s mid-line is the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs. This allows children to cross over their body to perform a task on the opposite side of their body. In the case of painting on an easel, it means that your child will be able to draw a horizontal line across a page without having to switch hands in the middle. Crossing the body’s mid-line is an important developmental skill needed for many everyday tasks such as writing, reaching towards your foot to put on a shoe and sock with both hands and hitting a ball with a bat.

  1. Shoulder elbow stability

The use of larger vertical surfaces allows your child to use bigger arm movements that encourage strength and flexibility throughout the joints and muscles of the upper extremities.  

  1. Wrist and pencil grasp

Vertical surface mark making and writing naturally puts the wrist in an extended position which encourages hand stabilization for better pencil grip and control of writing utensils.

  1. Visual attention and hand/eye coordination

When a child works on a chalkboard or easel, he will be closer to the surface he works on. That will foster concentration, visual attention and hand/eye coordination. If your child is distracted while colouring and painting at a table, give him the same activity on an easel and he might be more able to keep his attention on the task.

  1. Spatial awareness

When working on a vertical surface, the child will have a more hands-on understanding of directional terms such as up and down, high and low. He can relate to the words you might use with his own body.

  1. Core strengthening and muscles coordination

Working standing up, moving from one side to the other, squatting and going on their tiptoes to reach some area of the easel will engage your child’s core muscles.

  1. Perfect for fidgety children

Working on a vertical surface is also perfect for fidgety children. If your child is on the move, give him a brush, a pot of water and let him paint the garden fences!

15 activities to try:

  • Paint or draw on an easel. Any art activity can be practised on an easel.

  • Use stickers or make a collage on the easel.
  • Chalk on a chalkboard. Paint a wall or a door with chalk paint to have a great surface for many years to come.
  • Clean the chalkboard with a cloth and water
  • Cleaning the windows with a spray and a squidge.
  • Wiping the kitchen cabinet doors.
  • Painting the garden fences with a paintbrush dipped in water
  • Drawing with chalk on the external walls
  • Attach an old bedsheet to the garden fence and use it as a huge canvas to paint on.
  • Play with magnets on the fridge
  • Sellotape some contact paper on the window, sticky side facing your child and provide some material to stick on.

  • For the fan of legos and duplos, why not fixing a lego/duplo plank on the wall to build on.
  • You can also fix a felt board on the wall or a pinboard to pin pictures on.
  • Use window pens to decorate the windows.

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.