Rosemarie Church May 7, 2021 Dot to Dot
Everyone is an artist, and drawing is a universal precursor to writing. It is very easy to introduce your little artist to the world of graphic arts, writing a story, and early literacy, by early drawing. A self-portrait is one of the first drawings. First- Buy a large 12x24 or larger, newsprint drawing pad. You can also buy a craft paper roll and cut it to size. Also, purchase a set of wide (fat) pre-school crayons. The small regular crayons will not be easy to use for a toddler, since the small muscles in the hand are developing. You should work in a large format with a child. Place a hand held mirror nearby for reference. Second- Sit down on the floor with your child, and have him or her choose a color, and place the large (fat) crayon in his or her hand. Help your child hold the crayon like a pencil. If they have trouble, then they can hold it in their fist.
The great part about mindful drawing is that it is not just for kids! In fact, my wife is a Certified Zentangle Teacher and regularly sees the amazing benefits in adults who practice this form of mindful drawing. Just like meditation, mindfulness with a pen can also reduce blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and have long-term benefits with depression and anxiety. Have you ever found yourself just doodling on a scrap piece of paper. There is a good chance that when you are making lines or dots or shading with your pen or pencil, you are focused on present moment. Perhaps if the idea of meditation seems to be not your cup of tea but you could use to manage your stress; why not consider mindful drawing, doodling, or zentangle. The goal is not to make art to hang on your fridge but rather to give your restless mind a much need break from the endless chatter.
It has been a long while since I last wrote. I really miss it when I cant put my thoughts to paper (or keys... as it is). Last week I was teaching a bunch of kids aged 4-8 about the importance of mindfulness. This is a class which I teach every week. If you have never taught little kids before, it is much like trying to herd cats. The mindfulness class is one hour and for one hour I need about ten to twenty different activities as their attention span is so fleeting. Last week I had prepared a very exciting lesson using vinegar and baking soda to demonstrate how, when your mind is racing, it is like bubbles in the jar. I LOVED my new experiment and the kids were mildly amused for thirty seconds. I taught them to put their hand on their belly and breathe down the "bubbles of anxiety in their minds". Naturally as the acetic acid reacted completely with the sodium bicarbonate, the bubbles settled. Seemed like a compelling lesson? But, as with the others, it was... on to the next lesson!
Dot to dot puzzles, a classic activity many of us remember from our own childhood, is still a favorite of teachers and parents hoping to encourage kids to work on their counting and small motor skills. And, of course, the kids love them, too. The development of fine motor skills is important for academic success, and working dot-to-dots puzzles gives children a chance to practice gripping a pencil correctly and understand how numbers work in sequence. Besides being a fun process, dot to dots offer a reward in the form a completed picture that can be colored in and displayed. Dot to dots may be worked in pencil, with crayon or even pen. But when working dot to dots, as in life, mistakes can happen, so using a pencil with an eraser can avoid frustration, especially with the littlest kids, or junior perfectionists.
When undertaking faces aim to teach one feature at a time; the following tip may prove useful. For example, you are learning how to draw eyes, sketch out the facial outline and other features, leaving the eye area blank; make photocopies of this facial sketch, one for each child. With this basic template the students can draw in their own eyes following your instructions. Then they have a completed work which they can color and decorate. The next lesson you can work on another feature, such as the nose. Simple cartooning is great fun for kids of all ages and a great start. Just be mindful not to select too well-known or favorite characters as this can prove discouraging should the outcome not meet their expectations. Manga characters are quite simple, are basically recognizable but also leave much for individual interpretation.
After first introducing children to dot to dots, you may want to offer a little supervision. Encourage kids to seek out the next number in the sequence. Its best to draw a straight, even line from one dot to the other, and dont forget to connect that final dot or the image wont be complete! At the same time, dont insist that everything be "just so." Kids need to be able to experiment and be creative, even if it means coloring outside the lines. Dot to dots have many variations, and some are worked using letter sequences alphabetically rather than numbers while some spell words. The skill level needed ranges from preschool-age on up. Sometimes, its immediately obvious what the picture is, while other designs will keep you guessing almost until the final line is drawn.