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How LDS Coloring Pages (The Index) Came to Be

I have a daughter, age 4 at the time, now age 5, who just loves to color with crayons. Last year we were finding ourselves every Sunday morning on the computer printing up web pages from PBSkids, Nick Jr. and Sesame Street. Then we would take them to church for a quiet activity for Sacrament meeting. Every once in a while I would try to go to LDS.org to find some coloring pages. Type in “coloring pages” or “pages to color” in the site search engine and the list that comes up is not very user friendly – mostly the search results are not even coloring pages. After clicking my way through several online issues of the Friend magazine, I realized what the problem is. The actual words “coloring page” does not appear on those pages in LDS.org. Search engines cannot read pictures; they only read text, therefore the search engine is incapable of rendering search results for “coloring pages.”

For a while I would save my favorite pictures to my hard drive. I only had about a dozen saved; I would print them over and over, and my daughter got tired of them. Then I started a Word document with the hyperlinks and coloring page descriptions, making a greater choice of coloring pages without having to take the time to hunt them down each time or save them to my computer. I started thinking it would be fun to post it on the internet since web publishing is something of a hobby of mine. I needed a web publishing Sabbath-day hobby, because I love publishing so much I can’t keep off the computer, not even on Sunday. “LDS Coloring Pages” seemed to be made to order: performing a service for others on gospel-related topics. I chose Squidoo because I felt it was a better platform for this kind of project than a blog, and at that time (January 2007), I did not want to commit to the expense of a domain name registration. I did not think “LDS Coloring Pages” could get more than 100 visitors a month, because that is all my keyword research tool seemed to indicate there would be. I am delighted to report (and shocked) that my Squidoo LDS Coloring Pages (http://www.squidoo.com/lds-coloring-pages) is receiving 3500 visitors a month.

Now my “LDS Coloring Pages” (my list or index, I mean) is in a state of transition. I have purchased the domain name LDScoloringpages.net and put up a website. I have transferred all the information from the Squidoo page over to the website. In time I may delete the Squidoo page, when I feel people who have bookmarked it have had time to notice the new website. I have been a bit unhappy with some of the advertisements and offers that Squidoo puts on the page. Also, one lens or page seems a bit small for what I am trying to accomplish. With my own website I can add as many pages as I wish. Also, with my own website I can banish ads that do not appeal to me, and earn a small stipend, no great fortune, but enough to cover the costs of publishing. However, I am grateful to Squidoo for the free space. I see how they are a great, free laboratory for testing a new idea on the internet.

When I first started my LDS Coloring Pages list, I was flipping through my old paper copies of The Friend, noting the page numbers and titles (if any) then going to the LDS.org website. I am working in reverse chronological order. Around the 2002 Friend issues, I ran out of real copies, and since then I have been clicking my way through the past issues of the Friend online. For each coloring page I find, I note the title, the month and year, page number, and write a short description. I then paste the URL into a hyperlink, so the visitor can click directly through to the web page on the LDS.org website. I would have liked to have copied the images so a person could visually browse them, but I am certain that would be a violation of copyright. I work on adding to the list on Sunday night when the children are asleep. I usually add about a half a year’s worth of coloring pages per Sunday. I plan on going all the way back to 1971, because that’s how far the Friend issues go on LDS.org. At the rate I am going I should finish in about a year or let’s say June 2008. Maybe then I will begin to browse the Primary manuals. Interestingly, beginning with the January 2007 Friend, you will find each coloring page labeled “coloring page.” I believe the staff at LDS.org and the Church publications have been briefed on how to make their work more search engine friendly.

My Squidoo pen name is “momof7,” and indeed, I have seven children ages 27, 25, 23, 21, 18, 5, and 2 ½… three boys and four girls. Mostly the purposes of the coloring pages I print off are to keep the two young ones, a girl and a boy, happy in Sacrament meeting. I have also used my coloring pages list to compose a class presentation in Primary. I currently teach CTR6. It is hard to come up with ways for the children to truly participate in a class presentation. What I did last time was print out a dozen or so coloring pages two weeks beforehand. Our theme was “how following the prophet helps me to follow the Savior in faith.” The coloring pages depicted teachings of the prophet like prayer, scripture study, gardening, missionary work, kindness, etc. I let the children choose and color their page in class. During the class presentation the following Sunday, each child showed their picture, and with my promptings, talked about it. Then we all sang, “Follow the Prophet.” You know I must be obsessing about LDS Coloring Pages a little bit. When my visiting teacher was giving a message about testimony, the first thing that came to my mind was “oh, there’s a coloring page about that.”

I very much appreciate the encouragement and kind words that I have received in my guestbook. The majority have been from guests to Squidoo, and not from the Squidoo community. I assume people have been finding my Squidoo page through the search engines or by word of mouth. I was surprised to discover that in less than a week of announcing my website LDScoloringpages.net, the website ranks 3rd in Google for the search term “lds coloring pages.” The Squidoo page now ranks 5th.

Feeling like I am becoming rather familiar by now with The Friend publication, I must say I am truly grateful to the staff of The Friend and the talented illustrators for creating these things for our children. I am grateful to the LDS.org staff for publishing an incredibly huge archive of the publications of the Church. We are so fortunate to live in the “Information Age” and to have these positive choices before us.

~~Matia (aka “momof7” on Squidoo)

12 Comments

  1. Matia Bryson wrote:

    I have removed most of the content from my Squidoo page at this time. I still get a goodly number of referrals from Squidoo, so I will leave it there like it is for now. It is also nice to see that some of the advertisements that were annoying me are no longer there.

    Friday, July 6, 2007 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  2. Karinna Dawbin wrote:

    I love the work you have done. I just became aware of your site two days ago and am thrilled to say the least. I too have done a lot of searching for things to keep my little ones busy in sacrament meeting. I realize how much work you have done and want you to know I for one appreciate it tremendously!! Question for you, do you know of or have a list of any dot-to-dots?? My kids are nuts for them and I like to laminate them and keep in a looseleaf binder to take to church and do over and over (giving my printer a much needed rest on the sabbath..)

    Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Matia Bryson wrote:

    Thanks, Karinna. I am grateful for your appreciation. I believe most dot-to-dot pictures also qualify as coloring pages, so they will show up in the index as I come across them. I try always to notate them as dot-to-dot. I just made a search at LDS.org of the term “dot-to-dot” with quotation marks included, selecting magazines, and it turned up 21 results. Not all are real dot-to dot pictures, but it is a start. By the way, this search turned up a coloring dot-to-dot page I missed of the Salt Lake Temple in the December 2002 Friend. I hope I have not missed many more. Also thanks to your inquiry I have discovered that my Google search is not doing its job: it is missing several dot-to-dot results. Phew! When I go to each individual index page and use my browser “find” feature (in Internet Explorer you select “edit” then “find on this page”), I get two dot-to-dot pictures on the 2007-2004 page, six pictures on the 2003-2000 page, one picture on the 1999-1996 page, and no results yet on the uncompleted 1995-1992 page. That should be a total of nine, but Google search is only turning up two. I hope this helps for now.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007 at 11:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Marcie wrote:

    Thank you so much for this helpful compilation! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to teach short scripture lessons to my 2-year-old, and decided I would try to find some LDS coloring pages online. I had no idea that a comprehensive and helpful website like yours would exist!! I am also printing off a bunch of them to compile into a personalized “coloring book” for an inexpensive birthday present for a friend’s toddler. Thanks for your hard work!

    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  5. Janetta Graham wrote:

    I think the Friend is full of treasures too. A couple of years ago a group of us decided to start a FHE group where we swap lessons with each other. It was then that I wanted to know what has been in the Friend to know what kind of lessons I could put together. I found puzzles, crosswords, boardgames, stories on just about any topic and more. Now I print off things I like and stick them in a file for future lessons (or reference). Thanks for helping to organize some of these pages.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 1:27 am | Permalink
  6. Marni Hall wrote:

    I just found your site tonight – THANK YOU! THANK YOU! What a great service! I’m a nursery leader, and those little ones do love to color. I’ve wanted to find appropriate pictures that go along with each lesson, which isn’t always easy especially when I also want them church approved. I can’t tell you what a gem this is. I’ll be passing this along to every nursery leader and sunbeam teacher I come across. Thanks again!

    Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 1:18 am | Permalink
  7. Matia Bryson wrote:

    Thanks, Marni, and those are some cute bracelets on your website.

    Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Permalink
  8. Margaret Tarkington wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am a mother with young children and just wanted some good flannel board stories for FHE–as I think my 2 1/2 year old will pay more attention if he puts the pictures up. I started searching through old friends, but it was so hard to find them–and then I found your website! A heartfelt thanks for helping my family and children.

    Margaret

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  9. Amy wrote:

    I have spent countless hours searching the Friend’s search engines. My latest struggle, trying to find “Hidden Pictures” even when I actually searched for those words, resulted in less than favorable results. SO, I turned to Google, and there you were! THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH!!! What a wonderful service. We pray for blessings to you!!

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  10. Betty Blue wrote:

    Best educational coloring pages:

    COOL COLORING PAGES
    http://www.cool-coloring-pages.com
    Coloring Pages

    Info:
    Free educational coloring pages for kids. High quality coloring pages professionally formatted in Adobe pdf file format. Perfect for home childcare providers, and parents teaching children basic concepts at home. Coloring pages: animals (mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fishes, insects, dinosaurs), plants (fruits, vegetables, flowers), mushrooms, vehicles (cars, aeroplanes), educational (coloring alphabet, coloring digits).

    Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 3:44 am | Permalink
  11. Kristen Smeltzer wrote:

    Thank you for working so hard on this project. I use this every week for my CTR5 class and for my own children in Sacrament Meeting (I love your Sharing Time idea, too). I love to have something for the children to take home each week so that they can talk to their family about what they learned. You have made it so much easier for me to make this possible. I truly appreciate your efforts!!

    Sunday, October 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  12. Matt Gneiting wrote:

    What a terrific resource! Thanks for putting it all together and keeping it up-to-date.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

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