More Craftwork for Your Young Child’s Valentine’s Day: Messy Paper Heart Doilies

A sponge-painted doily with a heart-shape cut out of it (allowed to dry, then pasted on construction paper)

A sponge-painted doily with a heart-shape cut out of it (allowed to dry, then pasted on construction paper)

In today’s airbrushed world, where so many things are made up of perfect lines and angles (I’m especially thinking of school and its hours of linear mark-making), sometimes we just need to have a little fun getting messily creative.

This is where the simple activity of exploring color on paper can allow young children the great experience of creative freedom. Here are three fun craft projects for Valentine’s Day. Each will take only minutes to make, and result in two decorative images: a colorful doily and a bonus valentine produced by using the doily as a stencil. Both creations can become the cover or the inside of a homemade card, or can be pasted on a paper plate as a Valentine’s Day decoration.

A second valentine is created in the sponging process. When the paint dries, help your child carefully remove the doily to magically reveal a “bonus” valentine!

A second valentine is created in the sponging process. When the paint dries, help your child carefully remove the doily to magically reveal a “bonus” valentine!

What you’ll need:

  • something to protect your tabletop (I used an old shower curtain liner)
  • A packet of doilies
  • red and white tempera paint, and other colors of your choice)
  • plain white paper (such as printer paper)

    Before you start, assemble your various materials.

    Before you start, assemble your various materials.

  • two small sponges (for applying the paint)
  • a jar of water (to dilute the paint)
  • cotton swabs (for mixing the paint)
  • paper towels
  • scissors
  • scotch tape
  • paste or a glue stick
  • construction paper or paper plates
Before this doily was sponge-painted, I folded it in half in order to cut out the three heart shapes.

Before this doily was sponge-painted, I folded it in half in order to cut out the three heart shapes.

To paint a doily, tape it on a sheet of white paper. Using both hands in the manner of Brain Gym’s Double Doodle Play*, dip the two sponges into the paint and start blotting on the color. I suggest doing the painting as a single process; your hands will stay clean as long as you don’t set the sponges down and pick them up again. Or have wet paper towels nearby for clean-up.

Allow for meandering and serendipitous mistakes!

I enjoyed using a marker in each hand to detail the edge of this bonus design—Double Doodle-style!

I enjoyed using a marker in each hand to detail the edge of this bonus design—Double Doodle-style!

 

You can trim around the edge or use your making pens to make it more interesting.

 

 

 

I folded a doily into eighths, then cut it as shown.

I folded a doily into eighths, then cut it as shown.

 

 

For a decorative card, I wanted to cut out a more elaborate design (see drawing at left and photos below).

The results of my folding and scissoring!

The results of my folding and scissoring!

 

 

 

 

I pasted the doily on a card, and embellished the card with heart scraps from previous cutouts—pasted only at the fold for a 3-D, butterfly effect.

I pasted the doily on a card, and embellished the card with heart scraps from previous cutouts—pasted only at the fold for a 3-D, butterfly effect.

 

For this one, I cut a scalloped edge around a bonus valentine and pasted it to a paper plate, which I then further decorated.

For this one, I cut a scalloped edge around a bonus valentine and pasted it to a paper plate, which I then further decorated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make a Paper Plate Decoration, I cut a scalloped edge around a bonus valentine and pasted it to a paper plate, which I then further decorated by trailing the creases with three different markers in turn—super fun! (This one looks great on the fridge at our house.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym® activities from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition by Dennison and Dennison, ©2010. The introductory course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision offers a full day of exploration built on mirror-image mark-making and painting. For the name of a Brain Gym instructor, see the Foundation website, below. For a Double Doodle Play instructor, click on the link and look up 105DD under courses.

© 2014 by Gail 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.

Fun Valentine Projects to Draw and Make with Two Hands!

A Flower-Filled Double Doodle Heart

A Flower-Filled Double Doodle Heart

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and a great time to express our love and gratitude to friends and family. Here are two Valentine art projects—one that you can draw and the other that you can make—using both hands together. Each takes just a few minutes, or longer if you really get into it. You might then give these to someone special.

For the most fun (and best results, too!) you’ll want to first relax your eyes with Brain Buttons* and the Double Doodle, and your whole-body with the Cross Crawl. If you wish, choose additional activities from the videos or some that you already know from the whole Brain Gym® menu. Two-handed drawing is most easily done with relaxed eyes and hands.

A Flower-Filled Double Doodle Heart – To draw a similar image (see photo above left), you’ll need only a light-colored paper (I chose manilla), some thin markers, and crayons, if you wish. Begin by folding the paper in half so you can see the midline. Holding a marker in each hand, draw the shape of the heart. If you haven’t previously double-doodled, you’ll likely to be surprised at how easy it is to draw a symmetrical shape. However, one of the lovely things about the Double Doodle is how pleasing the asymmetries can be! If you want to practice before committing to paper (or want more information on the Double Doodle and its benefits), click here. Next, Double Doodle the ruffled edge of the doily, turning the heart as you work, so that you can keep your hands and pen tips close together. I made the doily shape by joining very small half-ovals in a somewhat random “hills and valleys” rhythm. To suggest lace, I then added the tiny circles.

With the outer edge complete, I now filled in with various flowers. I made the daisies by moving my hands rhythmically in and out for the petals, then filling in the daisy centers with tiny, circular scribble marks. I made the roses by drawing spirals or reciprocal half-moons, then adding petals around the outside. To complete the heart, I filled in spaces with various colored spirals, circles, and tiny flowers.

Two hanging hearts made with pipe cleaners and wrapped yarn. I added a flower for whimsy.

Two hanging hearts made with pipe cleaners and wrapped yarn. I added a flower for whimsy.

A Colorful Heart-Shaped Decoration – For the second project, you’ll need yarn and one or more bendy sticks (aka: pipe cleaners) for each heart, depending on the size you want.  (I made two hearts; see the photo at right.) To begin, form the bendy stick into a heart shape. Now tie one end of the yarn to the side of the heart. Weave the yarn diagonally back and forth across the heart shape, every which way, until you’re satisfied with the thickness. You can add a small flower or plant, for whimsy, as I did.

As you complete each of these activities, take a moment to notice the level of relaxation you experience in your eyes and hands.

Wishing you an awesome Valentine’s Day Celebration with those you love!

Brain Buttons and the Cross Crawl, and the Double Doodle are part of the 26 Brain Gym® activities described in Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition by Dennison and Dennison, © 2010, and taught in Brain Gym®  101: Balance for Daily Living.

The introductory course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision offers a full day of exploration built on mirror-image mark-making and painting. For the name of a Brain Gym instructor, see the Foundation website, below. For a Double Doodle Play instructor, click on the link and look up 105DD under courses.

Text and photos © 2013 by Gail 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.

 

Double Doodle Christmas Play

Out and down, out and down; in, around, around, around, to build a Double Doodle snowman!

Out and down, out and down; in, around, around, around, to build a Double Doodle snowman!

I love to Double Doodle* with both children and adults, and delight in guiding people to discover their own creative expression. An art project is a wonderful way to learn about exploring choices, and about turning “mistakes” into pleasing serendipities (something we can’t learn too much about!). And the Double Doodle process supports skills of eye-teaming, eye-hand coordination, directionality, and fluid mark-making, while providing a lot of fun!

For a Double Doodle Christmas tree shape, move hands "down and out, then down and in, now do it again, and again, and again!"

For a Double Doodle Christmas tree shape, move hands “down and out, then down and in, now do it again, and again, and again!”

I find that many holiday images are easy to draw using the Double Doodle process, and don’t take long to make. Here are three that I enjoyed creating for my grandchildren. Most children ages 8 and up can quickly learn to do the first two. They’ll have the most fun if you do it with them and keep it playful, turning any “mistakes” into serendipities (or feeling free to experiment with a few versions till you get the flow).

To make the snowman, fold your paper vertically, then tape the paper down. With a marker in each hand, and with both hands beginning equidistance from the fold mark, use a single downward in-and-out-stroke to fluidly draw the outline of the hat and snowman.** (If you are new to the Double Doodle, you can find a more simple image for beginning and additional instructions here.) Use whatever marker colors attract you. As you can see with the snowman, I used two different colors of blue to show off the Double Doodle effect. Now, with additional colors, make the eyes and mouth, buttons, and stick-arms. Color in the hat and scarf using either one or two hands, as is easy for you. Complete with a broom or shovel, and a background, as you wish.

A simple pine tree shape is easily double-doodled. Above left is a photo of the tree drawing after the first leisurely in-and-out motions, and again below, after adding some circles and curlicues for ornaments, and some icicle squiggles for ornaments.

Decorate your Double Doodle Christmas tree. Still using two hands, place some of your ornaments asymmetrically if you like.

Decorate your Double Doodle Christmas tree. Still using two hands, place some of your ornaments asymmetrically if you like.

Finally, here’s a little more complex drawing of an elf, fun for older children. Again, begin with a simple outline. Then color over and fill in as you like. Build from symmetry to asymmetry. I colored in the vest, leggings, and all by turning the page as needed, then placing my markers side-by-side as I colored.

A Double Doodle Christmas Elf that could be used on a card or as a window decoration.

A Double Doodle Christmas Elf that could be used on a card or as a window decoration.

Whatever you choose to Double Doodle, watch how a few minutes of doing the process relaxes hands, eyes, and mind, calming children and adults alike, and how even the most similar beginnings of a project can evoke unique choices. I enjoy seeing children of any age shift into a lovely acceptance and even delight of images with singular expression and character.

Wishing you cheerful decorating and celebrations!

*The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym® activities from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition by Dennison and Dennison, ©2010. The introductory course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision offers a full day of exploration built on mirror-image mark-making and painting. For the name of a Brain Gym instructor, see the Foundation website, below. For a Double Doodle Play instructor, click on the link and look up 105DD under courses.

**The directions “in and out” (toward the midline and away) take precedence over “left and right.” When learners struggle with academics, returning to an “in and out” orientation, perhaps through the use of the Double Doodle or other Brain Gym activities, is often all that’s needed for them to reconnect with more effective movement patterns. For those familiar with internal rotation of the forearm and how that can inhibit printing and cursive writing abilities, notice how after a few minutes of doing this two-handed motion, the arms and hands often relax into a more natural and aligned position.

© 2015 by Gail Dennison. All rights reserved.

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

Children’s Double Doodle Halloween Drawings – Fun and Surprising! (with a video)

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 an instructor near you.

 

 

Dexterity in the Modern World

dreamstime_m_22440341Susan called me to set up an appointment for her daughter Julie, age nine and in the third grade, saying that she was concerned about Julie’s cursive writing. Susan had overheard Julie arguing with her older sister about how to correctly hold a pencil, and realized for the first time how tense Julie was when she wrote. She knew that Julie was working hard to complete her handwritten math and writing assignments, but that she would really prefer to be hunting and pecking on a keyboard.

When I met Julie, I asked her to make up a sentence and write it down for me. I noticed how she held her pencil in a tight grip, thumb tucked under her fingers, making each “o” in a clockwise circle. She also sat awkwardly torqued, her weight toward her right side and her paper placed in the far right of her visual field. As she wrote “Today I went to school,” she paused several times, even in the middle of words, and twice erased letters to redo them.

Fine-motor hand-eye skills are done over time—ideally in a fluent, linear, sequence—with precision and dexterity. Through the years of a child’s concurrent sensorimotor and academic development, these skills support the maturity of higher-order thinking by developing laterality, including the abilities of both analysis and “big picture” thinking. Such writing makes a pleasurable developmental contribution when the thumb is relaxed and working with the fingers to create easy circles and loops to both the left and the right.

Since thought is much faster than movement—especially the disconnected movements of printing—fluent cursive writing is more conducive than printing to creative thinking. Cursive writing connects letters, connected letters make words, and to connect those words is to connect thoughts. Recording those thoughts by a fluid method helps them be expressed in a flowing and articulate manner. In my more than 40 years of working with thousands of learners, I’ve seen how well a relaxed hand position that allows for the reciprocal back-and-forth motion of cursive writing helps to stimulate the brain and creative thought.

When the thumb is stiff, or tucked under like Julie’s, it acts as a brake to the hand, inhibiting the back-and-forth motion needed for fluent handwriting. For a right-hander like Julie, ideally the writing would be driven to the right by the thumb’s precision; the fingers would naturally move into the counterclockwise curve of the “o“ in reciprocal response. Yet, having grown accustomed to her pencil-holding skills through the previous five years, Julie was effortfully “drawing” the “o” and “a” in a clockwise way, and wasn’t interested in learning a new hand position. She seemed quite happy to continue writing in her accustomed way.

Thumb flexibility and the precision grip it provides are gifts to be nurtured. The fine-motor skills it affords enable us to grasp and hold objects—to become comfortable interacting with and even changing our three-dimensional physical environment. Opposable-thumb development makes possible important human functions such as eating with utensils, cutting with scissors, and writing with an implement, and I see it also contributing to higher-order skills like choice making, transference of learning, and the application of ideas.

Fine-motor skills, including the coordinated muscle movements we make when we use our hands, develop as a child gains cognitive abilities, along with whole-body mobility and stability. Pulitzer Prize-nominated neurologist Frank Wilson, author of The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, states, “You can’t really separate what’s in the mind from what’s in the body. Knowledge really is the whole behavior of the whole organism,” and says that teachers shouldn’t “educate the mind by itself.” He asserts that “if lessons do not involve the hands and the body in full movement, much of the knowledge will be poorly processed and inadequately learned.”*

Maria Montessori recognized this concept more than a century ago. The core of the Montessori method’s philosophical approach to learning for children is the idea that sensory learning and hands-on interaction with objects creates a direct link to the mind. This idea was fundamental to my own thinking as, in the 1970s, I began to formulate the Brain Gym® activities.

When we think of fine-motor skills, we most often think of drawing, cursive writing, tying one’s shoelaces, or cutting paper with scissors. However, to acquire those skills a child needs several readiness preliminaries. The building blocks for such fine-motor control without distortion of the alignment include whole-body stability, bilateral coordination, and muscle proprioception.**

Doing the Brain Gym activities lets students experience the fine-motor, physical skills of learning within the context of their gross-motor skills. The concept is that, when such large- and small-motor physical skills are automatic and effortless, the mental processes of higher-order thinking can proceed without creating physiological stress.

Without asking Julie to hold her pencil any certain way or showing her how to use her thumb correctly, I asked her to choose from the wall chart some Brain Gym® activities for her, Susan, and me to do together toward her goal of thinking with ease while writing. To support her stability, bilateral coordination, and proprioceptive skills, Julie chose the following:

The Cross Crawl calls for moving the whole body in place in contralateral rhythm, using both sides of the body at the same time while maintaining balance and stability.

The Thinking Cap, “unrolling” the ears from top to bottom, helps one to turn the head left and right while paying focal attention to the task at hand.

Arm Activation (see Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition) helps learners to relax gross muscle control of the arms and become more acutely aware of the fine muscles of wrist, fingers, and thumb.

The Double Doodle lets one experience reciprocal motion of the thumb and fingers as well as crossing of the visual/tactile midline from the left visual field through the midfield, into the right field, and back.

After doing these Brain Gym activities, Julie picked up her pencil and resumed writing. She sat up more squarely in the chair, placing the paper in her midfield. She didn’t realize at first that she was holding the tool more loosely in her hand and no longer tucking her thumb. As she formed her letters, her fingers and thumb were now working together as partners. She wrote faster and more smoothly, and it was apparent to her mother and me that, this time, without having to organize the mechanics of how to write, Julie was thinking of what to write. She was experiencing what it’s like to think with fluidity and write at the same time.

*Tenner, Edward. “Handwriting Is a 21st-Century Skill.” The Atlantic, April, 2011.

**Stability is the sense of vestibular balance necessary to hold still one part of the body, such as the head, while another part moves.

Bilateral coordination is the efficient use of both of the sides of the body (including paired sensory organs—the eyes, ears, and hands). For example, one hand will manipulate a tool while the other assists. I find that the development of bilateral coordination leads directly to integrated hand dominance (right- or left-handedness).

Proprioception is the knowing of where the hands, arms, and fingers are spatially and how they’re moving in relation to the rest of the body. Noticing such muscle movement is the beginning of dexterity, by which a person is better able to use small, accurate, precise movements to stack blocks, open containers, pick up tiny objects, and practice many other skills in readiness for reading, writing, and doing mathematics.

Photo © Dreamstime, used by permission.

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

This movement-based, experiential approach to learning, as well as the 26 Brain Gym® activities, is taught in Brain Gym® 101: Balance for Daily Life. An in-depth exploration of sensory specialization for academic skills, including the Action Balance for Dexterity, and a balance to honor the learning profile, is offered in the Optimal Brain Organization course.

© 2013 by Paul Dennison. All rights reserved.

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

Photo credit: © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

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

A Double Doodle HeartThe Double Doodle, one of 26 Brain Gym® activities, is a drawing made using both hands. You can do a Double Doodle in the air, on paper, or even on someone else’s back (it’s calming, relaxing, and comforting!). There are many kinds of Double Doodle*, but most of them are created by drawing a symmetrical design, with the hands mirroring each other side by side.

The heart-shaped Double Doodle design shown here is a simple and easy doodle with which to start exploring the fun and benefits of making mirror-image marks. If you are new to the Double Doodle, I suggest standing and using a large sheet of paper—on a flipchart or taped down vertically on a tabletop. In Brain Gym, when possible we connect with a whole-body (proprioceptive) context for using our hands and eyes. So before beginning, do a few repetitions of  the Cross Crawl. By letting your arms swing freely as you move, you can use the Cross Crawl to relax your arms and hands for a more free-flowing Double Doodle.

Next, center your body in alignment with the vertical midline of the page (if you need to more clearly distinguish the midline, you can make a vertical fold in your paper).  Now place both hands near the vertical midline of the paper. Notice how your hands are now automatically centered with your body and also with the page. Now let your hands move slightly up and out, as if to make two large circles, then down, in, down some more, and around, circling in the opposite direction to finally come to rest in the inward spiral. Let go of any need for yours to look like this one. Most often, Double Doodles are unique to the individual. Let your drawing surprise you!

Notice how the brief and expansive upward and outward shape of the movement gently balances the downward and inward spiral. Using large motor movement in gravity like this, the shoulders and elbows easily relax as we let our hands flow alongside one another in their natural movement: down the page on the flip chart, or toward us on a flat surface—the entire motion taking only seconds to complete. Notice also how doing the Double Doodle engages your large muscles in a smooth motion (there is almost no motion at the wrist), without the strain or tension on fingers and wrists so often associate with drawing or writing. Many people feel their eyes relax, as well. Even though the spirals at the bottom of the heart go in opposite directions, they seem to help one another flow, and here on the right is the counterclockwise motion that starts the letter “o” that children often struggle to make.

After drawing the shape, people often want to begin again at the top, or sometimes to draw it from the bottom up, in which case you’ll most likely complete the final stroke with your hands opposite your sternum. From here, for a moment, there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do. It’s a good place to pause—a place of completion and new beginning. For fun, I added small tapping marks around the shape.

This simple heart shape that you’ve just drawn, with its spiraling base, is common to much American folk art. To make it more elaborate, you can add flourishes, additional spirals of various sizes, or a slightly larger shape to mirror and encompass the first. And now that you know how to make this basic heart template, you can also adjust it in size or shape to create many other heart-shaped structures.

A Little Background on the Double Doodle

Paul first learned to do bilateral drawing in the early 1970s when he read developmental optometrist G.N. Getman’s book How to Develop Your Child’s Intelligence, an insightful classic that is still available and full of great suggestions for parents. Paul began using “bilateral drawing,” as Getman called it, with the students at his Valley Remedial Group learning centers. He found that the activity helped learners develop essential skills of tactility (you can experience that by tracing your completed drawing with your fingers), hand-eye coordination, and directionality, as well as visual discrimination for reading.

Directionality means knowing one’s orientation in space—knowing where up, right, left, and down are in terms of the center of one’s own body. As you can see and experience, the body’s midline isn’t something imaginary, any more than the midline of a page is an approximation. And the exactitude of the body’s midline, immediately identified through movement, supports the accuracy of the bilateral motions of the eyes needed for reading and writing, supporting as well all the turning motions of the head.

When Paul later met Dr. Getman, they discussed what was then 30 years of optometric research on learning that had yet to be implemented in the classroom (it’s now been 70 years, and this research is still largely overlooked today). They also talked about how children’s perception depends on their movements that define their orientation, location, and differential manipulation, and how learning disabilities in basic school subjects are wholly preventable through the effective teaching of movement of the body, eyes, and hands. And when you did the Double Doodle, were you aware of moving in new ways by letting one hand mirror the movement of the other? Today, research is further investigating how novel, voluntary movement supports cognition and neuroplasticity.

When Paul and I began selecting the Brain Gym® activities to use in our 1986 book: Brain Gym®: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning, we had already been teaching our own free-form variety of two-handed drawing, as described above, that we called the Double Doodle (Getman’s original bilateral activity was more structured). Classroom learning tends to emphasize one-sided movement of eyes and hands, yet we see every day how doing the Double Doodle for even a few minutes helps learners experience two-sided (bilateral) integration with hands and eyes working together in synergistic collaboration.

*The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym activities from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition by Dennison and Dennison, ©2010. The introductory course Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision offers a full day of exploration built on mirror-image mark-making and painting. The Double Doodle and other Brain Gym activities are taught in Brain Gym 101: Balance for Daily Life. 

** See Research Nugget: Visual Skills and Reading.

© 2013 by 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 instructor near you.

You might also like:

Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play

Five Double Doodle Flowers for Spring  (a tutorial)

Double Doodle Holiday Play  (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 (a tutorial)

 

 

 

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