Teaching in Dubai ~ Finding Balance in Wonderland

 

 

Paul Dennison and Anna Mitchell, Dubai course sponsor, demo the partner version of the Calf Pump.

Anna Mitchell, a licensed Brain Gym Instructor and course sponsor in Dubai, volunteering to help me demonstrate the partner version of the Calf Pump for ease of focus and attention.

I was amazed to see Ski Dubai firsthand—a snowy indoor ski lift and slope within the Mall of the Emirates—one of the world's largest shopping malls.

The amazing Ski Dubai—a snowy indoor ski lift and slope within the Mall of the Emirates—one of the world’s largest shopping malls.

My photo of the tallest building in Dubai—the Burj Khalifa, which rises an imposing 2,717 feet to hold 209 floors.

My photo of the tallest building in Dubai—the Burj Khalifa, which rises an imposing 2,717 feet to hold 209 floors.

Imagine a faraway, almost mythic place—an enormous global city with impressive skyscrapers and urban landscapes, unbelievably built in the middle of an arid desert. This growing, dynamic environment cries out for exploratory thinking and a belief in new possibilities. Now imagine a group of inspired adult students coming together to discover what it’s like to “move to learn”—to set new life goals and embody vital new ideas and habits through balance and play.

This was the context for two of my fall 2015 courses: A gathering of eager learners and leaders coming from across the Arabian Peninsula to the mysterious city of Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, situated on the southeast of the Persian Gulf coast.

Behind me, a small glimpse of the Dubai Mall Aquarium, one of the largest tanks in the world.

Behind me, a small glimpse of the Dubai Mall Aquarium, one of the largest tanks in the world.

At the Dubai Mall—like something I'd never seen before—a sculpture of divers as part of a waterfall.

At the Dubai Mall—like something I’d never seen before—a sculpture of divers as part of a waterfall.

The Dennison Approach to Whole-Brain Learning was attended primarily by parents and educators, including some participants who were new to Brain Gym*. We enjoyed moving, playing, and balancing* together as students learned the 26 Brain Gym activities and experienced how each supports centralization of eyes, hands, and body on the midfield for such varied tasks as sitting, standing, walking, and academic work.

A student and I enjoy the benefits of the partner Calf Pump.

A student and I enjoyed the benefits of the partner Calf Pump.

I do the partner version of the Grounder along with a student.

Here, we positioned ourselves to anchor one another in the partner version of the Grounder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drawing on my studies in child growth and development, as well as my clinical experience, I demonstrated how each Brain Gym activity supports specific physical skills basic to ease of functional learning.

Participants then experienced for themselves how crossing the lateral midline connects the body’s left and right sides for the mechanics of communication, such as reading, listening, and writing. We next explored the relationship between up and down movements and our ability to be organized and grounded, and to manage stress. Lastly, we crossed the focus midline, moving both forward and back, to experience how our focal and ambient awareness can impact our ability to plan ahead for ease of comprehension.

Participants were delighted to discover processes that they could immediately implement for themselves, as well as with youngsters and oldsters at home and at their schools.

Doing the Elephant to relax the neck and shoulders and connect with our depth perception.

We did the Elephant to relax neck and shoulders, and connect with our depth perception.

Enjoying the rhythm and flow of the Alphabet 8s; learning to see the letters as more alike than different.

We enjoyed the rhythm and flowing motion of the Alphabet 8s activity. This kinesthetic, whole-body experience of the alpha and beta letters as more alike than different also highlights letter distinctions.

 

 

Students notice differences in their reading fluency before and after doing a balance.

Students noticed differences in their reading fluency before and after doing each balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Course photo for Dennison Whole-Brain Learning; I'm in the back row center; Anna is far right.

Course photo for Dennison Whole-Brain Learning; I’m in the back row center; Anna is far right.

After a day off and more touring, we continued with Total Core Repatterning**a post-graduate Edu-K In Depth course focusing on integration of early motor skills. The group was made up of advanced students—some chiropractors, physical therapists, Touch for Health instructors, and numerous Brain Gym instructors who were already familiar with the educational model of creating a “big picture” context through which to draw out new learning. As a group, we identified some basic one-sided habits of movement (such as reading, writing, texting) and noticed how these interfered with eye-teaming, as well as how they diminished our work skills and structural alignment in general. We then integrated these through the repatterning process, experiencing the ease and facility possible when whole-body movement provides context and centralization for near-point activities.

During the three-days, students chose goals, partnered up, and facilitated the 5-step balance* process with one another. Our in-depth activities emphasized structural alignment. We saw the impact on centralization of the Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Tonic-Neck Reflexes, as well as TMJ misalignment. The students were delighted after each balance to experience improved postural integration, a new ease of movement, and the possibility to live into their goals with greater awareness. 

What a joy to share the Edu-K work with such eager and hospitable people. There was a strong feeling of love in the room as we worked and shared together.

Graduates of the Total Core Repatterning workshop.

Our Total Core Repatterning workshop graduation photo—from our multicultural backgrounds we emerged as a cohesive community. Anna, front row center; me in the back row center.

 

*Brain Gym courses are based on the balance process: Five Steps to Easy Learning. The Brain Gym activities are described in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©2010, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA. 

**Total Core Repatterning is an in-depth movement process (based on the Dennison Laterality Repatterning process taught in Brain Gym 101), for integrating primitive reflexes that interfere with learning and mature motor control.  

© 2016 by Paul E. Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International/the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you. 

You might also enjoy these articles by Paul Dennison:

Why I Chose Action Research Over the Ivory Tower
Learning Calls for Physical Skills: The Role of Movement-Based Teaching
In Celebration of Handwriting

 

 

Brain Gym in Shanghai: A Photo Journal

Amy_300dpi

by Amy CHOI Wai Ming, Hong Kong

I’m very happy to share with you that, after 16 years as a Brain Gym Instructor, last summer I taught my biggest course* ever—a five-day class held in Shanghai in July, 2015. There were 40-some people, and for the first time I taught the course for parents and children without using any Power Point! I taught by pure noticing*. It was a body-oriented, drawing-out experience, and one that I especially enjoyed teaching.

The Brain Gym Instructors who reviewed the class or served as teaching assistants also enjoyed it very much. We sometimes let the kids get up and run around, and they were happy to get involved in all the movements, activities, and balance* processes.

We also used the figure 8 graphic of the Learning Flow* Chart from Brain Gym Teachers Edition. With the Dennisons’ permission, I made two teaching posters: one about 1.5 meters wide (you can see it in the background of the group photo) and the other a big floor mat (photo 10, link below), so that participants could walk on it and notice when they were in integrated high and low gears and when they were in stress. The students appreciated these posters, which many reviewers and Brain Gym Instructors who attended the course said helped them really “get it” for the first time.

A group photo of parents and children attending the Brain Gym 101 course in Shanghai, July 2015. Instructor Amy Choi is in the 2nd row, center.

Amy CHOI (2nd row, center) with parents and children at a Brain Gym 101 course she taught in Shanghai, July 2015.

After the course, I put together some photos to share with this article (read on for detailed captions of these). (For those who don’t have a yahoo/Flickr account, you can see the photos at https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0092009/gp/brainbodycentre/MqT7R2/)

CAPTIONS FOR THE PHOTOS AT THE LINK
Title Photo: July 7, 2015 Brain Gym 101 course – Students gather for a class photo!
Photos 1 & 2:
Teaching assistants in the Shanghai course make class posters using the Double Doodle activity, drawing with two hands at once.
Photo 3: Students notice what they emphasize or omit in their own learning as they refer to Edu-K’s three learning dimensions.
Photo 4: Class assistants prepare teaching aids for the class: Amy finds that rubber band ropes are excellent tool for noticing whole-body movement in the Dennison Laterality Repatterning*** balance.
Photo 5: Amy’s enlarged draft version of the Learning Flow chart makes discovery of high and low gears more visceral.
Photo 6: In the group circle, parents and children discuss what they notice about how they learn, and about the impact of stress on their sensory perception.
Photo 7: The children are exuberant in their play and explorations as they do a group balance for crossing the midline for whole-body movement.
Photo 8: A mother and son do Brain Gym Hook-ups together. In the background: Double Doodle drawings, Lazy 8s, a goal chart, and Brain Gym posters.
Photo 9: Participants do the Positive Points.
Photo 10: Doing pre-activities for an Action Balance for Focus; noticing whole-body focus.
Photo 11: A mother and son do the Footflex for ease of focus and attention.
Photo 12: Participants do the Owl to release shoulder tension.
Photo 13: The Grounder helps release hip tension and restore flexibility.
Photo 14: Art can be play!
Photo 15: Two teenagers from two different cities become friends after joining the Brain Gym 101 course.
Photos 16 and 17: Student’s notice their personal reference points within the Learning Flow, using Hook-ups to connect with a new learning response.
Photos 18 and 19: Discussion (left) and games (right).
Photo 20: Fun and playfulness during the class photo! Amy CHOI is in the second row, center.
Photo 21-23: Student drawings of the three dimensions: The Robot, The Swimmer, and The Penguin are the metaphors we use to describe three aspects of integrated learning.
Photo 24: a young man assists his mother in noticing her hearing/listening via her left ear.
Photo 25: Amy with two young students.
Photo 26: Participants note their learning process, then do the Elephant activity for relaxed listening.

Amy CHOI Wai Ming (center) and a group of kindergarten teachers share some results of their two-handed artwork from a Double Doodle Play course held in Hong Kong, fall of 2015.

Amy CHOI (center) and a group of kindergarten teachers share some results of their two-handed artwork from the course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Learning, held in Hong Kong in the fall of 2015.

I’m grateful to my sponsor, Mr. Shi Jian Ping of Shanghai Sunflower Studio, who provided the space for this wonderful course to happen. I would also like to thank Gail and Paul Dennison for their visionary work, Glenys Leadbeater for guiding me to join the International Faculty, and my many wonderful Edu-K teachers, including my first instructors: the late Zale Giffin of California, Flo Johnasen of Hawaii, and my close friend and teacher Carla Hannaford of Utah. 

Amy CHOI Wai Ming, a Brain Gym International Faculty Member in Hong Kong, became a Brain Gym Instructor/Consultant in 1999. She uses Edu-K’s PACE (emphasizing rhythm and timing) and space (for proprioception and spatial awareness) activities to explore new ways to play and move. Amy says her best tools to support others in finding authenticity through whole-body movement are her Kinesiology training and listening to her own body and intuition. She teaches all the core subjects of the Edu-K curriculum, and especially enjoys facilitating the Double Doodle Play basic and Teacher Training workshops. To find out more about Amy and her work, visit www.brainbodycentre.com 

* Students of Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life experience the 26 activities and 11 Action Balances related to basic functions, such as reading, listening, writing, moving. Participants explore the process of “noticing” in terms of the Learning Flow.
** The Double Doodle, the Footflex, and other activities mentioned here are part of the 26 Brain Gym activities detailed in Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison, which also describes how to use the Learning Flow.
***Dennison Laterality Repatterning is a short movement process that teaches learners how to shift from avoiding the visual and movement midline (and thus using one side of the body excessively) to functioning in terms of this midline and the two-sided midfield that it makes available.

© 2016 Amy CHOI Wai Ming. All rights reserved

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

 

 

 

 

Reading Is the “Hearing” of Written-Down Language

In our Brain Gym® work with early reading, we like to say that reading is the “hearing” of written-down language. Similarly, William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well (2015), points out that “Writing is thinking on paper.” Based on my 45 years as a reading specialist and movement educator, I agree, and would add that writing and reading go hand in hand. The more comfortable children are with writing (and thus with thinking and expressing themselves), the better readers and learners they’ll become.

Writing and storytelling develop thinking skills and guide children to a love of reading.

Writing and storytelling develop thinking skills and guide children to a love of reading.

Early in my teaching experience, I realized that a big part of what makes us human is the desire to tell stories and otherwise express our experiences. Language is something not to take apart, but to put together—something by which we create connections with others.

This is why, in working with thousands of youngsters of varying abilities, I’ve never sat next to a child and listened to her decode symbols or sound out words as a reading process.  For me, teaching children to passively analyze words and symbols rather than actively hear and think about the meanings they represent would be making the code more important than the language it signifies.

I first discovered this in the 1970s during my doctoral studies, when I was introduced to the work of Russell G. Stauffer, a professor of education at the University of Delaware. Stauffer cogently pointed out in his book The Language-Experience Approach to the Teaching of Reading: “Creative writing may be defined as a composition that reflects a child’s own choice of words, ideas, order, spelling, and punctuation.”

Children can learn to "think on paper" by illustrating and talking about their experiences, and by reading their own made-up stories that a grownup has written down for them, or that they write down for themselves.

Children can learn to “think on paper” by illustrating and talking about their experiences, and by reading their own made-up stories that a grownup has written down for them, or that they write down for themselves.

For many years, at my learning centers, younger children would be busy making books—drawing pictures and then dictating autobiographical stories that I would write down for them. Sometimes they would listen, to books or to other descriptive literature and poetry, as I read aloud. The older children (eight and up) might be mastering cursive script while writing down, for themselves, their favorite words or their own imaginative stories.

As I studied with developmental optometrists, I began to understand my purpose as that of helping learners become comfortable enough in their physiology to seek out new challenges. So, before each lesson, or if a child felt stuck, we would do a few Brain Gym activities* such as the Cross Crawl, Lazy 8s, and the Double Doodle to activate whole-body movement, centralized vision and eye-teaming, hand-eye coordination, and other physical skills.

Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., reading specialist and cocreator of Educational Kinesiology and the Brain Gym program

Paul E. Dennison, Ph.D., reading specialist and cocreator of Educational Kinesiology and the Brain Gym program

Day by day, I observed and facilitated. I saw that each of these children was actively exercising a flow of visual, auditory, tactile, and gross-motor as well as fine-motor abilities. As they wrote and read, they were learning to listen to their own thoughts and the thoughts of other writers—“hearing” the written-down language as they read it back, and so reading it with comprehension and expression. Each hour brought pleasurable challenges and ahas as they constructed ways to integrate these skills through practice and exploration.

Today, Brain Gym activities are used internationally and cross-culturally. One important use made of them is to teach those physical skills that invite a confluence of listening to the words of others, speaking one’s own thoughts, expressing oneself through pen on paper, and reading the written language of published authors as well as the writings of other students.

 

*The Brain Gym activities are described in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©2010, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA. 

Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, Maryanne Wolfe, © 2007, HarperCollins.

I Already Know How to Read: A Child’s View of Literacy, Prisca Martens, 1996, Heinemann. This valuable little book offers Marten’s insights as a professor of language education on her three-year observation of her daughter Sarah’s self-initiated exploration of reading and writing from ages two through five. This view can help us recognize the ways children (in our modern world, surrounded by written media) are naturally literate, and how they will “invent” writing and reading on their own, when given the opportunity. Informative reading and writing samples present Sarah as a natural inquirer who actively constructs symbols.

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, © Iain McGilchrist, 2012, Yale University Press.

Photo Credits:
ID 55829126 © Dmitry Kalinovsky | Dreamstime.com
ID 61438275 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

© 2016 by Paul E. Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International/the Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of an instructor near you. 

You might also enjoy:

In Celebration of Handwriting

A Message Across Time

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

The Magic of Attention with DIY Fairies

Two flower fairies frolic among the play scarves with their fairy dog.

Two flower fairies frolic among the play scarves with their fairy dog.

“Each fairy breath of summer, as it blows with loveliness, inspires the blushing rose.”—Author unknown

I recently lifted the cover of my piano to find a row of pipe-cleaner fairies (some pictured here) resting on the high-note keys, with their “leaf wings” removed and carefully laid at their sides. I’m not sure what the story was, but the possibilities made me smile.

Optometrist G.N. Getman once said, “Vision is a learned skill of attention.” Since I have a passion for facilitating visual skills, I like to remind students that vision is primarily a habit, and that to shift our habits, we must choose to see something new out of the countless possibilities that call our attention every moment. Being outside is a wonderful way to rediscover our vision, as myriad points of light shimmer and dance over moving leaves and plants.
And another way is to imagine the fairy realm. Simply reimagining the landscape as one in which fairies move, dance, and glide from one thing to another, hovering or alighting, (as our eyes ideally do) gives us pause to see the microcosm of nature—to soft-focus our eyes and look anew at the rich and variegated world of shape, color, texture, form, and motion.

My two granddaughters (the youngest then 8) and I began making these wonderful fairies a few years back using fabric scraps and other things we keep in our craft box. Ever since, making and playing with these homemade friends has provided one way to deepen our imaginative play together as well as providing them with hours of creative pleasure on their own.

I find that when a child plays with such a calming and butterfly-like personage, especially one they’ve made themselves, they don’t need to be taught anything in particular about visual skills. They’ll naturally make hand motions that engage the eyes in tracking side-to-side, up-and-down, at diagonals, and near-to-far. They’ll relax their eyes as they centralize their play around the body’s midline (rather than off to the right or left, as they might do for reading or writing). I can see how, as they glide the fairies around, they engage their soft focus and the fluid, saccadic eye motion that helps balance modern demands of eye-pointing or overfocus common when reading or doing computer work. Not to mention that playing with the fairies invites that restorative inner world of self-motivated attention and exploration. Here are photos of our fairies and instructions for making:

Two rose petal flower fairies (with wings made of lamb's ear and camellia leaves).

Two rose petal flower fairies (with wings made of lamb’s ear and camellia leaves).

At right: A mother flower fairy cradles her infant (wrapped in a leaf) while a girl and boy fairy look on. The mother's sash, made of fabric scrap tied in the back, helps to hold the petals in place. For this photo, they are not wearing their wings.

At right: A mother flower fairy cradles her infant (wrapped in a leaf) while a girl and boy fairy look on. The mother’s sash, made of fabric scrap tied in the back, helps to hold the petals in place. For this photo, they are not wearing their wings.

Smaller fairies with (at left) ficus-leaf wings; (at right), succulent-leaves.

Smaller fairies with (at left) ficus-leaf wings; (at right), succulent-leaves.

A close-up of the mother and infant.

A close-up of the mother and infant.

Back view of mom's leaf head dress.

Back view of mom’s leaf head dress.

If you would like to make your own fairies, here’s how we did it:

Basic items for making a "bendy-stick" leaf fairy.

Basic items for making a “bendy-stick” leaf fairy.

The Simplest Version – Ages 7 and up

You’ll need:
– bendy sticks (also known as pipe cleaners)
– wooden beads for heads
– colored pencils (or non-smear pens) to draw the faces
– pairs of leaves (we used camellia, lamb’s ear, and a succulent, at right, or you can use fabric leaves* as in the photo below)
– glue (to secure the pipe cleaner at the top of the head)

How to do it (most likely, if you show the children a photo and give them materials, they’ll figure it out):
1. Fold a bendy stick to form a torso and legs and feet (fold the legs back on themselves for thickness); or omit the legs and coil another bendy stick around the body to make a skirt; fashion a top if you wish.
2. Use a second bendy stick to make the arms (also folded back); leave enough of the stick on which to place the wooden bead.
3. Leave a little bit sticking out as a neck, on which to place the bead head.
4. Draw a face on the wooden bead (we didn’t always like the faces, so some of these were turned to the back or new beads used so we could redraw).
5. Secure the head by bending a 1/8″ or so piece of the bendy stick across the top of the head (you may wish to glue this)
6. Coil a bendy stick to make hair20151220_153250(0)

Options for Those with More fine-Motor Skill
– fabric rose petals*
– yarn for hair (glue on, or leave more length at the top of the pipe cleaner and use it to fasten the hair; see photos above). Unravel the yarn to create waves or curls.
– string (we used green and brown) for tying the petals on to the skirt
– needle and thread (not shown) for hand-sewing the petals on if you’re so inclined
– long-nosed pliers (I love to show children, when they’re ready to adhere to safety tips, how to use this
wonderful tool. In this case, the long-nosed pliers can be used to cut the pipe cleaners if you want to make them shorter.)

 

Three flower fairies with their fairy dog (all sans wings at the moment).

Three flower fairies with their fairy dog (all sans wings at the moment).

If you make fairy dolls, I would love to hear how you and your children play with them.

*We bought the fabric petals and leaves, along with the wooden beads and pipe cleaners, at Michael’s Craft store: www.michaels.com/

For a translation of this article into Spanish or Catalan, click here.

Gail Dennison is the co-creator, with her husband and partner Paul Dennison, of the Educational Kinesiology and Brain Gym® programs. She has also written the courses Visioncircles, Double Doodle Play, and their teacher training—courses that focus on natural vision improvement through movement and play. 

Brain Gym® is the registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym® International, Ventura, CA, www.braingym.org. To find a Brain Gym, Visioncircles, or Double Doodle Play Instructor in your area, click here .

Celebrating Fall Leaves with Double Doodle Play – A Tutorial

Homemade leaves, strung on a pretty ribbon, make a decorative fall banner and a joyful way to learn about leaves and trees.

Homemade leaves, strung on a pretty ribbon, make a decorative fall banner and a joyful way to learn about leaves and trees.

My 12-year old granddaughter and I recently made this simple banner of fall leaves to decorate the chandelier above the family table. She came to me with the idea.

This is a fun and simple project for ages 8 and up. Start to finish, it took us 40 minutes, including the time we leisurely discussed different types of trees and their leaf formations. Actual drawing time was about 5 minutes. Cutting took the longest.

What you’ll need (see the photo, right):

IMG_6757

marking pens
colored paper
masking tape (not shown) to hold down the corners of your final drawing
scissors
hole punch
an interesting ribbon or string
leaf samples – a few interesting leaves from outside
(we used some illustrations as our guide)

How to:

  1. Select one or more types of leaf to draw. We got our ideas from the illustrations on the Heritage playing cards,* as this gave us a chance to look at the beautiful variations of leaves from different trees, as well as the overall tree shapes.
A glimpse of a few of tree and leaf varieties that we discussed and chose from.

A glimpse of a few of the tree and leaf varieties that we discussed and chose from.

 

 

We especially liked the shapes of the leaves on the field maple and red oak, shown here.

We especially liked the shapes of the leaves on the field maple and red oak, shown here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Do a few quick sketches and select the ones you like best for copying.

A 12-year old's quick Double-Doodle sketches.

A 12-year old’s quick Double-Doodle sketches.

My quick Double Doodling of willow leaves. It's fun to use 2 colors; though not essential.

My quick Double Doodling of willow leaves. It’s fun to use 2 colors; though not essential.

3. Tape the corners of your paper to a table, so that it’s squarely in front of where you’ll be standing or sitting as you draw

4. Align what will be the center (the leaf’s midrib) with your sternum. (If you’re new to the Double Doodle, you can click here for more basic drawing instructions.)

Notice how drawing different parts of your leaf can invite you to make different hand motions.

Notice how drawing different parts of your leaf can invite you to make different hand motions.

5. Draw the outside contour of your leaf. Many leaf shapes are easiest to draw if you turn the leaf so that it’s tip is facing you, and begin by drawing the petiole, the part that attaches to the branch. This way, your hands can move easily toward you in a flowing motion, gliding slightly in and out as you follow any interesting contours of the leaf blade. You’ll see in the photo at left that my granddaughter experimented with drawing the leaves both ways; beginning from the tip (far left) and from the petioles (larger drawings at right). In some cases, we used our leaf templates as a jumping off point to create our own imaginative shapes. Leaves are not usually perfectly symmetrical, and yours will probably not be. Imperfections make them more interesting and natural looking. Note: We made the petioles quite wide to accommodate the hole punch.

Some completed Double Doodle leaves.

Some completed Double Doodle leaves.

6. You can draw the leaf’s midrib (it’s midline) with one hand, or else, if you wish to keep going with the kinesthetic feeling of the Double Doodle, place your non-dominant hand on top of your dominant one as you draw this downward stroke. I find it easiest to do the veins and small netted veins at the leaf sides with both hands at once, flowing directionally down and out from my midline.

7. Cut out the leaf shapes.

8. Use your hole punch to make a hole in the bottom of each leaf (see photo, right).

9. Thread the leaves onto an interesting ribbon and then string it on a mantle, in front of a window, or wherever you like.

Happy celebration of autumn!  

My granddaughter threads the leaves onto a silver ribbon she found in the gift recycle.

My granddaughter threads the leaves onto a silver ribbon she found in the gift recycle.

*Since I often travel to teach the course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Learning, I like to have small artistic templates to inspire my students. The Heritage Playing cards offer a wide range of beautifully illustrated cards. For our banner, we used their “Famous Trees,” on Amazon here. Heritage cards also offers a host of other options, including such favorites as Backyard Birds, Ocean Animals, and African Animals.

The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym activities, from Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison.

You might also like:
Double Doodle Hearts and Flowers for Mother’s Day

Halloween Magic with Two-Handed Play!
Make Double Doodle Pumpkin Faces for Halloween Fun

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole Brain Vision

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

Paul and Gail: Reflections on 2012
Creating Beauty with Two Hands

© 2015 Gail Dennison. All rights reserved.

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International/The Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

Liisa Korhonen, Brain Gym Instructor and psychologist, Helsinki.

Liisa Korhonen, Brain Gym Instructor and psychologist, Helsinki.

Liisa Korhonen, Helsinki

In Helsinki in 2014, I took a course in two-handed drawing called Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, taught by Glenys Leadbeater, RN. During the course, Glenys explained that, as a nurse, she often teaches Double Doodle drawing as a rehabilitative measure. Following her example, I started double doodling with my youngest sister, Ritva, 68, who after a stroke in 2010 was diagnosed with hemiplegia, aphasia, epilepsy, and you-name-it. Having lost her native Finnish language, Ritva now uses “Emotionalese.”

Ritva's first Double Doodle (Dec, 2014). While Ritva draws with her left hand, Liisa motors her right in a mirror-image.

Ritva’s first Double Doodle (Dec, 2014). While Ritva draws with her left hand, Liisa motors her right in a mirror-image.

For our Double Doodle process, I choose sturdy paper, 56 x 65 cm in size. While Ritva uses the crayon or brush in her left hand, I motor her right side to mirror what she draws. Now I could better see the importance of mark making as stated by Gail Dennison in the Double Doodle Play manual. In this case, I’d say that the most constructive activity has been Ritva’s and my collaborative planning and executing of movement. This first picture (right) is from December 2014, and we have doodled together on and off ever since.

Ritva drew this while playing the Double Doodle "Nines" game for the first time.

Ritva drew this while playing the Double Doodle “Nines” game for the first time.

Our next step was the Nines, with both of the images at left drawn in February 2015. To do this, I first put nine symmetrical dots on the paper, then we start negotiating the directions. We do half the paper like that, then I turn the paper around in order to ease the strain of Ritva’s right arm and we do the other half. Ritva’s contributions are seen diagonally in the final products, as in the examples at left.

For a time, the emotional aspect of mark making became dominant. Ritva became self-critical and, since she wanted to avoid negative moods, her willingness to doodle subsided.

Ritva begins a more playful exploration in this 2nd image based on "Nines" (both from Feb, 2015).

Ritva begins a more playful exploration in this 2nd image based on “Nines” (both from Feb, 2015).

”Why does the changing of letters raise so much feeling?” asked a reporter when Finnish television showed the latest change of model letters for schools. The letter designer referred to the lifelong personal experience of using letters in handwriting.

Writing really creates an intimate relationship with marks and letters, and through them with the whole of human civilization, as Gail says in the manual. After my experience with Ritva, I would even view the emotional development as an aspect of its own right in the Double Doodle process.

Ritva's playfulness becomes more apparent in Harmony of the Nines (May, 2015).

Ritva’s playfulness becomes more apparent in Harmony of the Nines (May, 2015).

In May, our use of big brushes and poster paints brought positive changes to Ritva’s Double Doodle process. As you can see, the paintings had become more harmonious.

More May Nines with Ritva

More May Nines with Ritva

This harmony of the Nines was accompanied by a generally positive mood. If Ritva felt lonely during the day and phoned me to complain, she always accepted my response that she was the only person who could control her feelings. According to her friends, her Emotionalese has recently become more nuanced.

Ritva Korhonen discovers new ways to express herself using Double Doodle Play.

Ritva Korhonen discovers new ways to express herself using Double Doodle Play.

In July, with Liisa's assistance, Ritva paints her first portrait‚ one full of expression.

In July, with Liisa’s assistance, Ritva paints her first portrait‚ one full of expression.

In July we made our first portrait of a face, which became quite expressive. It was my birthday, and we were both in the best of moods, which reflects on the face we drew.

July Nines with Ritva

July Nines with Ritva

The July Nines also show the changes to be consistent. I’m happy to report that the balancing effect of Double Doodle Play stays in Ritva’s moods, even if we don’t have time to doodle very often.

I think that the pleasure of looking at beautiful objects—all objects, actually, continues to increase for her, as it does for me.

A portrait with Ritva, July 11, 2015

A portrait with Ritva, July 11, 2015

Discovering a new center with Ritva, July 12, 2015

Discovering a new center with Ritva, July 12, 2015

 
Thank you from my heart, Gail and Glenys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liisa Korhonen, 76, is a Brain Gym Instructor and psychologist in Helsinki, Finland. Lissa says, “Brain Gym has been my delight since the 1990s, and in it Double Doodle Play is my latest joy. I especially like it because it gives an opportunity to practice a stress-free state of being.”  

 

The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym activities, from Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison.

For a translation of this article into Italian, click here.

© 2015 Liisa Korhonen. All rights reserved

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International/The Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

You might also enjoy:

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play

A Soothing Double Doodle Heart for Kids of All Ages: A Short Tutorial

Five Double Doodle Flowers for Spring  (a tutorial)

Double Doodle Holiday Play  (a tutorial of Christmas and winter images)

Children’s Double Doodle Halloween Drawings (1 min video)

Halloween Magic with Two-Handed Play!

Make Double Doodle Pumpkin Faces for Halloween Fun (a tutorial)

 

 

 

 

Children’s Double Doodle Halloween Drawings – Fun and Surprising!

A Halloween Double Doodle (just like any Double Doodle) is down using two hands together.

A Halloween Double Doodle (just like any Double Doodle) is drawn using two hands together.

I always find it a delight to share the Double Doodle activity with children. Sometimes youngsters have gotten the idea that they can’t draw, don’t know how to begin, or assume that it’s going to be hard work. When I show them that they have the option to use both hands at the same time, most are initially doubtful. Such was the case when I invited a group of youngsters ages 6 – 10 in an after school program to draw Halloween Double Doodles with me.

I find that once children experience how easy the activity is, they usually jump right in to explore, as was the case here. And many discover that it’s easier to draw with two hands than with one. The reason, I think, is simple: Doing the Double Doodle can help anyone (of any age) shift away from “trying” to make something perfect—maybe an image that they’ve seen before, or perhaps following a principle of what they were told was “good art.”

Doing the Double Doodle also helps people shift away from a visually-directed effort toward a proprioceptively-directed one—one where the movement of their hands becomes the focus. Once they experience the pleasure of moving their two hands in sync, their eyes can take a backseat to the experience, and they can even be surprised by what appears!

A perfect image clearly isn’t the goal. Yet there’s always something intriguing, playful, interesting, full of character, about the Double Doodles that emerge, as you can see.

For a tutorial on drawing Double Doodle pumpkin faces and some fun images, click here. To see other Double Halloween Doodles, see Halloween Magic with Two-Handed Play! See Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole Brain Vision for more about drawing and painting with the Double Doodle. For a beginning tutorial on Double Doodle, click here.

The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym activities, from Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison.

© 2015 Gail Dennison. All rights reserved

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International/The Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

 

 

Confluence at the 2015 International Kinesiology Conference

Gail and Paul Dennison

Gail and Paul Dennison

Confluence, the theme for the 2015 International Kinesiology Conference to be held in beautiful Banff, Canada, literally means to flow together.  We send our hearty congratulations on the many and diverse streams of Specialized Kinesiology that will be meeting and joining together there, September 23 – 27, to celebrate mutual cooperation, body wisdom, and wellness through movement! We offer our deep appreciation to the CANASK network, Educational Kinesiology Foundation staff members, and to all who will be contributing to make this year’s conference an outstanding event.

We’re excited that you’ll be experiencing keynote presenter Dr. William Tiller, as he speaks on “The Power of Human Intention.” Dr. Tiller is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at Stanford University and the author of ground-breaking books on psychoenergetic science.*

The program will include presentations from many wonderful leaders in the world of kinesiology, including numerous Educational Kinesiology Faculty Members (click here for names and topics).

We’re sending our wishes to participants that all will find hearty ways to celebrate throughout the five days of conference events and additional pre- and post-conference workshops. Like the rivers and hot springs that come together in Banff, may the diversity of offerings there flow seamlessly together to create a confluence of health and healing!

To update you on our own focus this year: Paul taught here in Ventura, California, as well as in Australia, Indonesia, Montreal, Brazil, and will travel (this fall) to Japan and Dubai. Meanwhile, Gail continues working on blogs and the latest book project.

As we continue to develop a Brain Gym® and Educational Kinesiology presence in the social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), we appreciate these avenues as a grassroots opportunity to update parents and educators with the latest research on movement, play, and learning, as well as a way to connect with so many of you. Thank you for your support!

In today’s technologically driven world that requires both near-point focus and passive sitting, the Edu-K work is becoming more important than ever—not only for schoolchildren but for people of all ages. Research daily calls each of us to action by way of bringing increased movement, play, and structural alignment to our everyday activities, and especially in the learning environment. Where Edu-K once pioneered the field of movement-based learning, there are now many “move to learn” programs. The 26 Brain Gym activities, the Brain Gym 101 course, Seven Dimensions of Intelligence, and our other fine courses remain unrivaled in scope, simplicity, and a regard for the learner through self-actualizing activities. Research in neuroscience continues to catch up with our commonsense recognition of the interrelationship of the human body and optimal brain function.

Please acquaint yourselves with our learning resource site, Hearts at Play: Move, Learn, Bloom, that offers blogposts and videos to answer many of the how, what, and why questions about the Edu-K work that you’ve asked us throughout the years. We trust you’ll find this site useful in creating immediate interest in your courses and private sessions. May your lives be touched by the “confluence” of moving to fulfill your personal and professional goals, and may we all keep moving with joy!

Love to all,

Paul and Gail

*Dr. Tiller is the author of Science and Human Transformation: Subtle Energies, Intentionality and Consciousness, Conscious Acts of Creation: The Emergence of a New Physics, Some Science Adventures with Real Magic and Psychoenergetic Science: A Second Copernican-Scale Revolution, as well as more than 150 published papers. Continuing his psychoenergetics research, he currently directs the William A Tiller Institute for Psychoenergetic Science in Arizona.

 

Engaging Children in the Classroom with Music and Play

Classroom students learn to follow rhythm and vocal pitch while exploring new language skills and enjoying the play state evoked by Education Through Music movement games.

Classroom students learn to follow rhythm and vocal pitch while exploring new language skills and enjoying the play state evoked by Education Through Music movement games.

Paul and I are delighted to offer this guest blog from Laura Walter, a workshop leader for Education Through Music (ETM). Laura, a dear friend and fellow advocate of learning through movement and play, first told me about ETM in 2003. Paul and I have since enjoyed exploring in ETM like-minded thinkers and movers, focused on providing play and cross-lateral experiences (walking, skipping, hand-crossing) for self-actualizing learners within a community-building setting. We soon realized that this was the same program that author and educator Joseph Chilton Pearce had recommended that we look into. It turns out that Pearce had recommended the Brain Gym® work to the ETM group, as well, including both programs as experiences he favored for the developing child. We love to play song games with our family members and ETM and other friends, and highly commend this enlivening program. —Gail

When I clap the rhythm to a song, the children listen with close attention and are always delighted to try figuring out which one of the songs we’ve sung together it could be. They eagerly offer ideas and together sing parts of the songs in order to settle on the answer. Then we all leap to our feet to play the corresponding song game as we sing the song.

These young people love singing in canon, and taking turns leading the Solfege hand signs in three parts while listening to how beautiful the combined parts sound. The classroom teachers comment on how interesting it is that, when the children come in to music, they’re attentive and ready to learn. In ETM, all of our motivation is intrinsic: the singing and the playing for its own sake . . . the sound for its beauty. Thus the children come along easily, with regard for each other and regard for the music.

ETM integrates singing with critical thinking games to teach the fundamentals of pitch and rhythm. Through weekly music activities, the song games help students discover skills of pattern recognition, social interaction, and working as a team.

As our society moves into more and more distractions, play and song can bring attention systems into greater focus. Teachers have particularly remarked on how those children who learn better in nontraditional ways, often through movement, are completely immersed in and captivated by the song game activities. Our program lets all participating children feel successful. They all sing and interact, as in this short video.

Patrons of the Ojai Music Festival enjoy a surprise interactive demonstration of ETM led by artist-in-residence Laura Walter and participating students from Ojai schools.

Some of our classes include special-needs children. A boy I’ll call Marco is one such child. He is nonverbal, moving with assistance or very slowly. With his automated talking board, he can touch a response to a question. On many days, the classroom children will choose Marco to have the next turn, and cheer for him as he runs around the circle at his own pace to participate in the game.

When one of the special-needs children is called on to offer an answer, the other children wait patiently to hear it, no matter its possibility of being correct. The kindness in the room is palpable. This is one of the hallmarks of arts education.

At the end of one year, one of the teachers mentioned to me that her class had played and sung ETM games every morning, to set the tone of their day. I told her that many teachers feel they don’t have the time to do that. She said, “They don’t have the time not to do it.”

ETM in a classroom greatly diminishes discipline concerns and impulse-control problems. When we sing and play with such joy, our brains are wiring connections for a productive and successful life.

Laura WalterLaura Walter is the Bravo Education Coordinator for the Ojai Music Festival. She has served on the faculty of Westmont College for more than 20 years. Laura has taught at Wright State University and Miami Valley Music Academy, and has been a featured guest lecturer at the Dayton Philharmonic. Formerly the Executive Director of The Richards Institute of Education and Research, a nonprofit group, she continues working with teachers and children, especially atrisk youth, using interactive play to develop motivation, intelligence, literacy, and emotional stability. She is the regional coordinator of Education Through Music and leads workshops for teachers to incorporate the arts into the current STEAM philosophy. Her students have gone on to successful careers as musicians, doctors, scientists and major symphony conductors. 

For more information see http://www.ojaifestival.org/education/bravo-program/ or www.richardsinstitute.org

 

Sudoku on My Brain: An Artist’s Statement

"Sudoku on My Brain," is an 8 X 10 shadow box, rendered in computer generated graphics, watercolor, and colored pencil.

“Sudoku on My Brain,” is an 8 X 10 shadow box, rendered in computer generated graphics, watercolor, and colored pencil.

By Emily Eisen, M.Ed.

I’ve always been fascinated by the working of the miraculous human brain. It wasn’t until 1995 that I became personally interested in how my brain works—when I learned I had a benign brain tumor on my pituitary gland. It was detected while it was still small, and so it never interfered with my vision or other faculties.

Serendipitously, a colleague told me about a three-day course called Brain Gym® 101, being given at a local hospital. I registered for it immediately. Since Brain Gym is an educational (rather than medical) program, my focus consisted of creating challenging learning goals and activating more brainpower by choosing from “menus” of the 26 different Brain Gym activities.

I experienced extraordinary improvements, and went on to take more Brain Gym courses on brain organization, balancing brain dominance, and so on. At the time, I was teaching art in Hicksville, New York. I used the activities I was learning with my art students, and observed much-improved focus and concentration as well as greater freedom of verbal and visual expression.

"Self-Portrait of EM with Words," a 16 x 20 multimedia portrait, made from a photo transfer, acrylic paint, and watercolor pastels using the batik wax resist method to create the neuropathway networks. I enjoyed collaging the word tiles to describe what I enjoy my brain for!

“Self-Portrait of EM with Words,” a 16 x 20 multimedia portrait, made from a photo transfer, acrylic paint, and watercolor pastels using the batik wax resist method to create the neuropathway networks. I enjoyed collaging the word tiles to describe what I enjoy my brain for!

Fast forward to the year 2000, by which time my tumor had shrunk to half its size. I flew to California, and was cured by an innovative neurosurgeon who took it out through my right nostril, allowing me to go to Universal Studios with my family just three days later!

I returned home to Northport, New York, where I went on to become a licensed Brain Gym® Instructor, teaching professional staff development to Long Island teachers, conducting private therapist trainings, and seeing clients for individual brain balance sessions. Also, in the town of Huntington I currently conduct senior citizen programs under a grant from the Alzheimer’s Association.

So why “Sudoku on My Brain”?

Let me begin by saying that I hated math—and failed it in the fifth grade.

My dad was a crackerjack mathematician. I marveled at how he could add a column of four-digit numbers out loud so fast. He told me he would teach me to be a math wizard and that I’d never fail a math test again. And that’s what happened! Although ever since I could hold a crayon I had been doing art all the time, I now fell in love with numbers. I actually started college as a math major!

Within the first year, I came to my senses and became an art major. In 1975 I received my B.A. and M.Ed. for Art Education from Queens College. For the next 34 years, I had the best time in my career as an art teacher in Hicksville.

In a program I recently led for senior citizens, the presenter had just detailed a list of all the signs of Alzheimers! Oh my gosh . . . I perked them up with Arm Activation!

In a program I recently led for senior citizens, the presenter had just detailed a list of all the signs of Alzheimers! Oh my gosh . . . I perked them up with Arm Activation!

I love doing Sudoku puzzles because of loving the numbers, and also because of the way my eyes need to track all the different boxes to determine which number is right for the nine-box grid. After doing a puzzle, I feel calm, energized, and focused.

Since the inner space of the brain is as much a mystery as outer space, for the “I See Me” Huntington Arts Council Self-Portrait Exhibit, April 2015, I chose to depict my brain on Sudoku in a 3-D manner. I made a 3-D shadow box, entitled “Sudoku on My Brain” (see the graphic at upper left). This is one result of a process I learned from my friend, colleague, neighbor, and mentor Beth Atkinson, a Hicksville High School art teacher and New York State Teacher of the Year award winner.

Here, I lead seniors in doing more Brain Gym activities: The Energy Yawn, followed by some Belly Breathing. We then switched on our spirits by singing together, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!”

Here, I lead seniors in doing more Brain Gym activities: The Energy Yawn, followed by some Belly Breathing. We then switched on our spirits by singing together, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!”

I learned in my training to become a Brain Gym Instructor that, most of the time, the eye muscles get fixed in habitual patterns of tracking. Did you know that eye tracking stimulates the different brain centers? When we move only our eyes, we take our brain for a walk! Yet people with 20/20 vision can have tracking challenges and may have difficulty with balance, reading, driving, writing, painting, drawing, sculpting, comprehension, organization, playing sports, doing eye-hand work, and anything else that the eyes are used for.

Yet, according to Brain Gym author Dr. Paul Dennison, “Movement is the door to learning.” The eyes are controlled by muscles that, just like all muscles, need exercise. They need to have a full range of motion as well as the ability to lengthen and shorten.

Four* Brain Gym exercises in particular give the eye muscles a great workout: Brain Buttons (for left-right tracking), Earth Buttons and Space Buttons (for vertical tracking), and Balance Buttons (for near-to-far tracking). I teach these to my art studio students, and they notice great differences in how they draw and paint before and after this learning menu of movements! Δ

*Lazy 8s and the Double Doodle are two more Brain Gym activities that engage the eyes, in both cases focusing on hand-eye coordination and directionality.

This article was originally written for the “I See Me” Huntington Arts Council Self-Portrait Exhibit, April 2015.

Emily Eisen, M.Ed., is a licensed New York State K-12 Art Instructor/educational consultant, a Brain Gym® Instructor, the Director/Instructor of BRAINWORKS PLUS, a brain-body fitness instructor for elders, a Language of Mastery® instructor, a Total Immersion® swim coach, a ChiWalking® coach, a repertory actor, a keynote motivational speaker, and a fine arts instructor. To contact Emily: P. O. Box 778, Northport, NY 11768; phone/fax: 631-651-9207; email: balance@brainworksplus.com; website: www.brainworksplus.com

The Brain Gym activities are from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison, 2010.

Brain Gym® is the registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym® International, Ventura, CA, www.braingym.org. Click here for the name of an instructor in your area.

 

 

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