Using Two Hands to Engage Centralized Focus and Attention After a Stroke

Glenys Leadbeater, RN, New Zealand

Glenys Leadbeater, RN

Brain Gym first came to my attention in 1984 when the younger of my two boys was having difficulty learning in the traditional school system. He was just age nine when he began to do the activities, and the changes in his attitude and his physical skills when reading and writing soon boosted his confidence.

I became interested in the idea that movement is important in helping people learn, and began taking Brain Gym courses and even teaching. By the time my son was aged 13, he enrolled himself in a speed-reading course. He has continued making self-directed choices about his ongoing education.

In 2003 I attended my first workshop in Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision*, and in 2007 completed my training to become a Teacher Trainer. I have been facilitating this amazing course worldwide since 2007, having now taught more than 30 courses. The Double Doodle Play workshop is built around play and games that engage both hands in drawing and tracing images, tactilely and kinesthetically, in the center of vision. The continuous up- down- in- and out- motions relax the eyes and enhance visual skills by supporting hand-eye coordination and sustained eye teaming in the visual midfield.

In 2009 I met Rod Dennis, the founder of the Rodney Aphasia Group, Inc.**, and he invited me to be guest speaker at one of their monthly meetings. Every year since 2010 I’ve given a Double Doodle Play workshop for the Rodney Aphasia Group, modifying the course especially for people who have been left with aphasia following a stroke. Aphasia literally means “absence of speech.” Aphasia is the term used to describe the loss of a previous ability to express or understand spoken or written language, due to disease or injury to the language area of the brain. In New Zealand, strokes are the major cause of aphasia, and head injury is the 2nd most common cause. 

The members may attend as many times as they like, and usually do so for a couple of years in a row. New members are always joining. I have now taught Double Doodle Play to more than 50 aphasia students in the last seven years. I also attend the group’s monthly meetings, when able, to encourage them in using the Brain Gym activities. 

Since many members of my aphasia group experience fatigue when concentrating,  I usually offer the course in two half-day sessions, scheduled a week apart. I find that, in today’s busy world, one key to helping learners of any ability to become more attentive to their needs and gifts is to teach them the four Brain Gym activities that make up PACE.

Often, learners are simply overthinking, moving too fast, or trying too hard to notice what’s actually happening with their physiology. So in that first session, I spend a lot of time teaching PACE—an acronym for Positive, Active, Clear, and Energetic, and for four basic Brain Gym activities that support hydration, near-far range of visual motion, bilateral coordination, and balance. For each of the four activities, we do considerable “before and after” noticing*, to enhance student’s mindful awareness of their visual/sensory processes.

For this article, six of my students from the aphasia group have given permission for me to share their photos, their before and after drawings from this year, and a little about them.

Ruth, our group chair, explores use of both hands together on the midline.

Ruth, attending for the first time this year, says that doing Brain Buttons (one of the four PACE activities) helps her to slow down her thoughts. She finds that after doing the Brain Buttons she can speak in whole sentences, as long as she speaks slowly. She also uses the activity when chairing the meetings, to help her when searching for sentence structure.

Ruth’s Trees (Top: Before
Bottom: At course completion)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My students often tell me that doing the PACE activities gives them sensory cues to help them slow down, notice what they’re thinking and feeling, and connect with the natural rhythms and ranges of eye and body movement.

Des has been attending the group since 2010.

Often, a student’s partner will attend the workshop with them. Sometimes partners find it even more challenging to do the Double Doodle Play activities than those who have had a stroke. 

For the first two years after his wife had a stroke, Des came to the meetings together with her. After she died in 2012 from yet another stroke, Des has continued to attend, saying that he greatly enjoys the playful experience. He appreciates the yearly up-date and learns something new every time. This time, he says, he learned how important it is to do PACE slowly and mindfully.

Des’s before and after trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The experience of aphasia is different for each person. Many of the students I teach experience mild to severe difficulties finding words, reading text, or understanding what other people are saying. Some also have the physical signs of stroke with restricted movement on the right side of their body.

Karlene discovers the ease of Double Doodling as she orients each flower to her midline.

Karlene is new to the group. She finds that she gets easily frustrated. She often has tears as she speaks and, although she voices strong feelings, she sometimes has difficulty remembering. She says that, through doing the course, she has learnt to listen, and has much more confidence. She speaks of using the power of PACE in all her therapies (those that she is enrolled in as part of the Aphasia Group continuing support programme).

Karlene’s before & after trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeannie, Karlene’s mum, also attended the course for the first time. Janelle has struggled to help Karlene, and is grateful for the positive change in Karlene in just the one week. Other members of the group at our most recent meeting expressed to me the changes they see in Karlene, as well, noting that she has become more centered and better prepared to interact socially with friends playing darts.

Jeannie, Karlene’s mum, is there for her daughter.

Jeannie’s before & after trees

When teaching, I use basic principles from Brain Gym 101: Namely, Noticing and the Dynamic Brain Model.** I explain briefly the anatomy of the brain and its corresponding sensory and motor pathways. I find this imagery helps to facilitate an experiential process of Dennison Laterality Repatterning*** with the whole group (usually done while sitting down, as balance is a concern). I keep the information simple, with diagrams to support their understanding. I speak slowly, monitoring each student’s ability to stay with me.

I follow this activity with either a Deepening Attitude Balance and /or a F.A.S.T. Action Balance, focused around each person’s sensory memory of the stroke experience. Through the years, many students have particularly shared with me that doing these two balances have provided a turning point in their ability to move forward.

Mal attends with his wife, Leoni.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mal attends the courses and monthly meetings with his wife, Leonie. He says that he has learnt a lot about accepting that life has changed, now that his wife has had a stroke. He has done a lot of research on different methodologies to assist Leonie.

Mal’s before & after trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second week, in session two, we explore the Double Doodle Play process in greater depth, using five simple hand movements. We play with scarves in the air, Double Doodling the various shapes to music by Mozart. I am also lucky enough to have rolls of whiteboard-like material that we can use with whiteboard pens, which we erase and reuse. The before and after work shown here was done with markers on paper.

Most of these participants have now recovered from their strokes to the point where they show no visible signs of it until they attempt to speak.

Leoni is learning to write and draw with her left hand.

Leonie, a talented writer and lifelong right-hander, has been unable to “un-claw” her right hand since the stroke. She can do large motor movement with her right arm; however, she doesn’t yet have fine-motor control with her right hand. So Leonie is exploring how to write with her left hand and has gained more confidence in her penmanship since taking the course. So far, she still struggles to do the Cross Crawl. She is fiercely independent, now walking with a stick.

Leonie is verbally challenged and looks to Mal to speak for her. At the beginning of the class Leonie only spoke in single words. By the end of the two sessions, she was able to speak a full sentence with confidence, sharing about how much she enjoyed the class.

I am so humbled to work with these courageous people.  Δ

Leoni’s before & after drawings.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

**Rodney Aphasia Group, Inc., is in Orewa, New Zealand.

“Before and after” noticing is described in Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Living Manual, (pages 59, 62 64).

**Brain Gym courses are based on the balance process: Five Steps to Easy Learning. Dennison Laterality Repatterning and other balances mentioned here are taught in Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life.

Glenys Leadbeater, Orewa, New Zealand, is a registered nurse with a post graduate diploma in Operating Theatre Techniques. A Brain Gym International Faculty member since, 1992, Glenys has done extensive training since 1985 with the founders of Educational Kinesiology, Dr. Paul and Gail Dennison. Glenys is one of the founders of Edu-K in New Zealand, and sits on the Board there. Brain Gym International recognized her in 2001 with the Outstanding Achievement Award for her contributions to Educational Kinesiology. She has worked tirelessly in promoting Edu-K to people from all areas of life, and traveled extensively, teaching in over 14 countries, as well as sponsoring many international Brain Gym instructors and courses in New Zealand.

Glenys has been teaching for over 35 years. Besides Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, Glenys also teaches Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life, Optimal Brain Organization, Visioncircles, and the following advanced courses—Edu-K In Depth: Seven Dimensions of Intelligence, Creative Vision, Total Core Repatterning, Movement Re-Education, Brain Gym Teacher Practicum, Optimal Brain Organization Teacher Training, Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision Teacher’s Training, Visioncircles Teacher Training.

Glenys is a keen gardener and homemaker. She enjoys playing tennis, cycling and beach-walking, knitting and crochet. She also shares the interests and successes of her husband Roger, her two sons, Brendon and Gareth, daughter-in-law Marie, and grandsons Matthew and Joshua. 

© 2017 by Glenys Leadbeater. All rights reserved.

Click here to read a translation of this article into Italian.

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 

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

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

Creating Beauty with Two Hands

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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

"Bicycle," by Rhydonia Anderson, captures the whimsy and expressiveness of two-handed doodling.

“Bicycle,” by Rhydonia Anderson, captures the whimsy and expressiveness of two-handed doodling.

Rhydonia Anderson, Ed. S.

As a Brain Gym® Instructor, I’ve had many remarkable experiences using the 26 Brain Gym activities—first as a therapist at an alternative school, and later as a School Counselor.

I was initially drawn to the the Brain Gym concept of basing new learning on learning that is already familiar to the student. I also quickly came to appreciate the educational model of “drawing out” rather than “stamping in”—a playful mindset encouraging growth. Both of these Brain Gym perspectives are consistent with what I later experienced in my studies at graduate school, qualifying as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  

My husband, Virgil, and I, now “officially” retired, have continued to teach one of our favorite Brain Gym courses, Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision* to those who work in schools and developmental therapy centers. As former teachers, we’re comfortable with these professionals. We don’t want to bore our audiences (like we’ve sometimes been bored in staff development meetings); so it works well that Double Doodle Play is filled with activities that keep everyone moving. In the workshop, participants discover how to draw and paint with both hands (bilateral drawing), as they explore their visual experience of color, shape, texture, depth, movement, and more. 

"Lighthouse Study," by Virgil Anderson, offers an example of negative space

“Lighthouse Study,” by Virgil Anderson, offers an example of negative space

Three busy pairs of arms create a Double Doodle group mural.

Three busy pairs of arms create a Double Doodle group mural.

A student completes a Double Doodle butterfly design based on the Nines game.

A student completes a Double Doodle butterfly design based on the Nines game.

In vision as in artistic composition, the white or empty space that surrounds an object—the background—can become just as important as the object itself—the foreground. Double-doodlers are sometimes surprised at how, without any effort, these shapes of “negative space” naturally emerge in a bilateral drawing to define the boundaries of positive space (the object, or foreground), bringing it into balance. 

 
The Double Doodle Play emphasis on process and spaces reminds me of my training in Marriage and Family Therapy, which was also oriented to spaces and to process, more than product. I learned a systems model of relating, which taught me to attend to the space between myself as a therapist and the client, rather than identifying the client as “separate,” and to stay in the process of interacting.

Once, when Virgil and I presented Double Doodle Play at a staff in-service, we were at the school all day, with the teachers, therapists, and aides coming in during their conference periods. A school director later asked me, regarding a couple of the teachers in particular, “What did you do? Those two aren’t usually so settled.” What we’d done that created such a good effect was to guide them through a combination of Hook-ups and the Positive Points, the two Brain Gym activities oriented to self-calming.

Partners enjoy Mirror Doodles as they reflect back one another's movements.

Partners enjoy Mirror Doodles as they reflect back one another’s movements.

Virgil invites an elementary student to do Iso-Doodles (photo was taken in the therapy room, thus the swing).

Virgil invites an elementary student to do Iso-Doodles (photo was taken in the therapy room, thus the swing).

"Waterfall Study" by Virgil Anderson

“Waterfall Study” by Virgil Anderson

Two students enjoy the "give ’n’ take" of the Iso-Doodles activity. If we all pull together . . .

Two students enjoy the “give ’n’ take” of the Iso-Doodles activity. If we all pull together . . .

The success of that in-service led to our largest audience yet—70 parents, staff members, and special ed teachers, all seated at those little elementary cafeteria tables. We didn’t keep them sitting long; they were soon standing, moving, playing, and doing bilateral drawing—in the air and on paper. At the end of the workshop, one woman told me that this was the most useful in-service she’d ever attended.

Several years ago, when Sylvia Sue Greene, a Faculty Member of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation, first offered the Double Doodle Play workshop, I was interested but doubtful. I emailed her that I couldn’t draw, and Sylvia responded, “You can use both hands, can’t you?” Since I knew her to be recovering from a stroke and still teaching, I felt humbled by her question and chose to take the workshop.

Virgil had taken one Brain Gym 101 workshop; he’d driven me to a class I co-taught, and simply took the class since he was already there. His goal, he said, was to get a deer; he considered this “a joke,” since he didn’t put much stock in it—until he got a deer the next time he went hunting! With some encouragement, he then agreed to attend a basic day-long Double Doodle Play workshop. The teacher, Gail Dennison, was impressed by Virgil’s creativity and mentoring spirit as an educator, and invited him to accompany me in attending—the following day—the Teacher Practicum for Double Doodle Play. He’d be qualified to teach the Double Doodle Play workshop once he completed the prerequisites, which he did!

The one-day Double Doodle Play includes movement, drawing, and painting activities, done solo, with a partner, and as a group. It serves as a fun introduction to Brain Gym—with tools for maintaining and improving everyday visual and movement skills. People often make gains in their visual responsiveness as they play together in ways that engage seeing, tactility, or tool-holding abilities, while learning to notice both one-sided and whole-body habits of moving.

Wind and Water, a partner Doodle game, delights players as they discover a relaxed use of the hands for mark-making.

Wind and Water, a partner Doodle game, delights players as they discover a relaxed use of the hands for mark-making.

There's much laughter as students draw with eyes closed, in the Wind and Water game.

There’s much laughter as students draw with eyes closed, in the Wind and Water game.

The simplicity and variety of the Double Doodle activities encourages participation. I especially love the partner activities, such as Mirror Doodles and the cooperative Wind and Water (see photo above and at left). I see Wind and Water as a great relationship-builder—taking turns being the wind and the water can increase awareness of and ameliorate any power struggles, as well as help release the need to be “perfect.”

We also enjoy the cooperative games, which quickly build a sense of community. For example, in one class, we had teachers sit four to a table, with two crayons for each person. We gave one person a sheet of paper, and when I said “Start!” that person began drawing a Double Doodle (I had Virgil’s help in monitoring the groups, in case anyone needed materials). After a few seconds, I called “switch!” and the drawing would be passed to the next person to be continued— a process that always generates a lot of laughter.  After all four people had each had three or so turns, I called “Stop.” We have sometimes done this Cooperative Drawing game to music—each person drawing a shape to represent the music. At yet another school, when we stopped, we had each table’s group make up a story for their picture. The day ended with each group sharing their story while displaying their picture.

Daniel's Natural Bridge, drawn after visiting the bridge, in Clinton, AK.

Daniel’s Natural Bridge, drawn after visiting the bridge, in Clinton, AK.

Barbara's Wolf, a student drawing done with crayon and colored pencils

Barbara’s Wolf, a student drawing done with crayon and colored pencils

Close up of "Field of Dreams," by Virgil Anderson

Close up of “Field of Dreams,” by Virgil Anderson

Students form a Double Doodle Train, simultaneously exploring shape-making while enjoying tactility.

Students form a Double Doodle Train, simultaneously exploring shape-making while enjoying tactility.

Another cooperative game is the Double Doodle Train. I like to call this a “Tactile Train”—a fun, alliterative name. I have students compare the tactile message they receive at the “start” to the one they receive at the “end,” which is never the same!  (Like the “Gossip” game, where a message is whispered from one to the next around the circle, then compared at the end to the original message.)

For our internship, Virgil and I spent a day teaching Double Doodle Play at the school where I’d been a counselor the previous year. The art teacher commented about a boy in junior high who’d done Mirror Doodles with Virgil, saying that he didn’t ordinarily mix much with classmates but had really participated on this day.

When I spoke with that teacher the following year, she reported that, due to scheduling difficulties, she now had 8th graders and seniors together in one class, and that the 8th graders—who had experienced Double Doodle Play for just one class period the previous year—were actually more creative than the seniors!

She later wrote to me: “I want to thank you for giving me another key to helping my students. Colored paper and the Double Doodle have especially helped one of my students. [This] student was very disruptive, so I let her Double Doodle one day. She loved it and settled down. Within a week she was writing complete sentences. (The sentences were just her thoughts, and not answers that she should have been giving, yet an important baby step.)  She is becoming part of the class rather than being a problem in the class. At the beginning of the year she was always angry. She now seems to enjoy the class, and takes part in class activities. Thank you so much for your help.”

~ ~ ~

*The Double Doodle activity expands on the bilateral drawing work of G. N. Getman, O.D., from his book How to Develop Your Child’s Intelligence, ©1962; 1992. The Double Doodle was first included in Brain Gym®: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning, by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©1986, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA. The games and activities described here are from the course manual Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, by Gail E. Dennison, © 2006; 2007; translated into nine languages.

For a Spanish translation of this article, go to ¿Por qué me encanta enseñar el Doble Garabato…? -1- and -2-

For more about Double Doodle Play, check out these blog posts:
Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

A Soothing Double Doodle Heart for Kids of All Ages  (a basic tutorial on the Double Doodle)

Five Double Doodle Flowers for Spring  (a tutorial)

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

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

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

Paul and Gail: Reflections on 2012
Creating Beauty with Two Hands
Rhydonia Anderson, Ed.S.

Rhydonia Anderson, Ed.S.

Rhydonia Anderson, Ed. S., of Arkansas, a licensed professional counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, is a former specialist in school counseling, now enjoying retirement. Rhydonia’s career experiences include serving as a home economics teacher, an outreach therapist for a mental health clinic, and a counselor in an alternative learning environment for students who had difficulty in regular school. She identifies herself as a lifelong learner. Rhydonia’s husband Virgil Anderson, M.S. Ed., taught life sciences in junior and senior high school and is also now, along with Rhydonia, experiencing the “freedom of retirement and housebuilding.” He loves to hunt, fish, and do woodwork, including timber frame.

On June 20 of 2015, Rhydonia and Virgil will be co-teaching the introductory workshop Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision in Peoria, Illinois. The Peoria workshop is approved for 8 CEUs for educators and also for 8 CEUs for health professionals and allied health professionals, through the University of IL College of Medicine in collaboration with the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois. To register, or for more information, contact Helen Cox, at options@mtco.com

Rhydonia welcomes your comments, questions, and feedback, and can be contacted at rhydonia@aristotle.net.

 

© 2015 by Rhydonia Anderson. All Rights Reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International. Click here for the name of an instructor in you area.

Five Double Doodle Flowers for Spring

Playful flowers, leaves, and curlicues drawn with two hands at once make a colorful design.

Playful flowers, leaves, and curlicues drawn with two hands at once make a colorful design.

Flowers are always fun to draw, and especially welcome in the springtime. Their shapes can be quite soothing and relaxing to make when using two hands at the same time. Whether you want to make a card or picture to express your gratitude to someone special, or to simply reflect on and celebrate such qualities as playfulness or beauty, this project is a great way to connect with nurturing feelings. All you need is some paper, marking pens (crayons or paint can also work), and a few minutes time, to create a cheerful or whimsical image. (See the photo at bottom right for a suggested layout of your tools.)

In the image that you see here, I’ve included five distinctive radial flower shapes that I often use in my workshops with teens and adults of all ages. I’ve taught the more simple shapes to children as young as five (though please be sure they can do one shape easily before showing them more). People generally find the making of Double Doodle flowers to be a calming and reflective activity—one they are often surprised that they can do.

Begin by taping your paper to a smooth surface. Then take a moment to relax yourself, especially your arms, by doing a few strokes of the Cross Crawl, all of PACE, or perhaps Lazy 8s or the Arm Activation, if you’re familiar with these. This will help you orient yourself to the page in terms of your center—your sternum—while simultaneously feeling the reach of your arms and symmetry of your hand motions. I made the above left image while standing at a table, as I often do. Or you might want to work on an easel.

You might begin with a dandelion-like design.

You might begin with a dandelion-like design.

An image like this does not require working on the midline of the page, but calls for us to see the midpoint and midline of each individual flower-shape that we draw. You might begin, as I did, with a different colored marker in each hand, with the marker tips resting next to one another in the center of your visual field. I first drew a dandelion-like design: With both hands on the center point of your dandelion, create outward strokes away from the middle to make the shape. Add more dandelion shapes to your bouquet, as you like.

The first petal motion for the Looping Flowers.

The first petal motion for the Looping Flowers.

Next I drew the three looping flowers in the upper-middle area. These are fun to do in one flowing motion: the first petals are made as your hands move up, down, and then
loop back up; the second petals move down, then loop up and out diagonally, the third loop out to the sides, and so on.

A completed Looping Flower shape with six petals.

A completed Looping Flower shape with six petals.loop (see the image at left); the 2nd petals are made as your hands move out to thesides, in toward the middle, and then loop; the 3rd petals are similarly made with a downward, then upward motion.

The first two petals for the Heart-Petal Flower.

The first two petals for the Heart-Petal Flower.

The third flower has tiny heart-shaped petals (see image at right). Simply draw two hearts at once, side-by-side, to make the top two petals, then continue with the side and then the bottom petals. You can walk around your paper or draw the hearts upside-down. Again, this is most fun to do in a smooth, flowing motion. As you work, let yourself—your movement and looking—be more and more from a place of comfort and soft focus. Doing the Double Doodle invites relaxation of the eyes and hands, so if you feel yourself tensing up with old movement patterns, pause and do more large motor movement before continuing.

A Heart-Petaled Flower.

A Heart-Petaled Flower.

Next, I made two playful roses at once, by first drawing the calming outward spiral, then encircling it with two or three rounded waves to suggest the thick and sensuous petals .

The fifth flower is simply made by drawing two 6-pointed stars at once: Your two (fine-point) markers touch at the midpoint, then quickly brush out and away to make three radiating lines. Can you find my ten tiny Star-Flowers?IMG_4309

Finally, you can add leaves, curling vines, or curlicues, to fill the space. If you wish, go back to each flower and layer it with two (or even three) more colors, as I did. With your dominant hand, you might color in a shape or two, or add other asymmetrical touches, as you like.

I used a variety of thick and thin colored markers, as well as two colored pencils.

I used a variety of thick and thin colored markers, as well as two colored pencils.

I’m confident that you’re final image will surprise you with the joy of coordinating your hands and eyes, and the beauty and mystery of asymmetry that seems to accompany the Double Doodle process.

For more information on the Double Doodle, read A Soothing Double Doodle Heart for Kids of all Ages.

The Double Doodle is one of the 26 Brain Gym® activities, from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Dennison and Dennison. To find an instructor of the workshop Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, developed by Gail Dennison, click here.

For a translation of this article into Spanish or Catalan, click here or paste http://kinemocions.com/ca/primavera-cinco-flores-con-dobles-garabatos/.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym® International. For more information, or to find an instructor in your area, go to www.braingym.org.

(C) 2014 by Gail Dennison. All rights reserved.

 

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