Rosemarie Church May 8, 2021 Dot to Dot
I quickly put away the jar, vinegar, and baking soda and moved on to another exercise and another and another. At the end of each mindfulness class, I conclude with the same exercise: lying on your stomach and drawing your happy place. As soon as I announce that we are going to be doing the mindful drawing, they excitedly drop to their tummies and wiggle with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning. I pass out the fresh white paper and a can containing shards of crayons. The second their crayons hit the paper, you can hear a pin drop. There is no goofing around, there is no talking, but there is complete mindfulness. For fifteen minutes, they will draw, colour, and become immersed in their creation. Of course the real magic is not what is happening on the paper but rather what is happening in their mind. They are thinking about their happy place and then making it happen on paper - perfect mindfulness. It is the same as when we use guided visualization to enter into meditation.
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!
Since its humble beginnings seven years ago, Dot To Dot Festival has gone from strength to strength and has served up sets from bands that have gone on to see incredible success. In the past, this has meant shows from the likes of Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine and The XX - but this month it focused back on some lesser-known acts hoping to break through in the same way. Taking place across three cities - Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester - the event has a pretty ambitious mission statement. In Manchester alone, it uses seven different stages at venues like The Ritz, Sound Control, The Deaf Institute, Zoo and Joshua Brooks, but while this is probably something of a challenge for the organisers in terms of business liability insurance, the backing of sponsors Fred Perry probably provides some small comfort.
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.
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.
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.