Great New Edutainment Application for Kids: Color it by Numbers

by Ostatic Staff - Mar. 09, 2011

I'm always on the look-out for great kids applications to help entertain my very active grandchildren during their weekly overnight visits. Tuxpaint and GCompris were past hits, but as children do, they need new and exciting activities. That's why when I heard of Color by Numbers I just had to test it.

Color by Numbers is an coloring activity that can no only be fun but teach number recognition as well. The interface is pretty and functions very well. It's simplified for ease of use and makes for a tidy workspace. The individual elements, like the paint brush or tubes of paint, are cute yet realistic. The performance is snappy and immediate, the visual effects are enchanting with no lag or glitches. Color by Numbers comes with sound effects and background music to enhance the experience as well.

There are currently three coloring book available: Princesses, Vehicles, and Animals. Each coloring book consists of 20 pictures. There are three modes of coloring, which could technically provide 60 activities per book. The original "Color it by numbers" offers the traditional numbering of elements of the picture that guides the user as to the color to use. This aids younger children not only in number recognition, but it could also introduce those children unfamiliar with computers to the concepts of mouse operation. It could also heighten self-esteem gained from accomplishing a task successfully. For older children, it's quick and easy fun.

The "Color it to make it visible" mode cuts the picture up into many more pieces, so much so that the subject may not be readily identifiable until much of the picture is painted. It still offers a guiding hand by providing numbering for the color recommended. This may be more targeted to the first to third grader rather than the three or four year old.

The activity that would allow the most creativity comes with the "Color it in your favorite colors" mode. This presents the original cut minus the numbers. In this mode your child would paint the picture as they like. The numbered pictures will not allow painting the elements other than what is numbered. All modes allow endless clearing of the colors for another go.

The program is utterly cute and enjoyable. It's appropriate for children anywhere from as young as two up to one-foot-in-the-grave, but it is actually recommended by the company for children four to thirteen. They seem to have targeted the books towards gender, but as any parent knows, stereotypes often don't apply. Any gender could enjoy coloring animals, vehicles, or even princesses.

Although the application is of very high quality and an inspired idea, I do think it might be a bit pricey for some. Each of the books costs $19.95 each. However, the price is still quite reasonable when compared to other children activity games for computers and consoles. As a plus though, the company said it does plan on releasing some new pages for the existing books, which would enhance the value even more. Relatedly, they also plan on releasing new books as well.

In addition, I couldn't find a setting either in the GUI or in the files to set a window preference. Color By Numbers runs fullscreen and it could be more convenient as a windowed application in some setups. Color By Numbers requires 3D graphic acceleration, which may present an issue to some setups.  On the good side, it does seem to scale well to different resolutions.

Just another personal preference, I think I'd rather see one general wrapper with each of the books available for selection instead of having to, for example, close the animals book and open the vehicles book. Each coloring book is its own separate application. Fortunately, they don't feel "heavy" and open and close quite quickly.

Demonstration versions are available for each at the Color By Numbers Website. There is also a video tour that shows it in action. Visit the site for FAQ, a Gallery, and to download the demo or purchase.

Company Summary:

"Program features:
-three coloring modes
-easy to change preset colors
-cute and exciting images
-beautiful effects.
-adapted for all screen resolutions
-the picture is automatically saved after exiting the program
-music and sounds

As well as being in English, the program has been translated into German,
Spanish, French and Russian." Available for Linux, Windows, and Mac.