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.

 

Creating Together: A Home-Made Bouquet for Spring!

Our finished project: a vase of colorful flowers and butterfly!

Our finished project: a vase of colorful flowers and butterfly!

“Grandma, can we make some flowers for springtime?” my  10-year old granddaughter, H., asked me as she settled in after school. “And a vase, too! I want to give them to my mom and dad.” I immediately set aside the plans I was considering for our play day and went looking for a suitable vase. “What are you imagining?” I asked. Soon we were both in the world of exploring ideas and materials. As we found various items, we set them out on the dining room table, and H. began choosing the items, colors, and textures that she liked. Suddenly she was going ahead with a new idea: designing a butterfly for the bouquet!

My granddaughter created this bright and whimsical butterfly.

My granddaughter created this bright and whimsical butterfly.

 

The Items We Gathered
-a glass bottle for the vase (we used an empty mineral water bottle; first removing the label)-various colors of tissue paper for the flowers, and to create a tissue collage for the bottle
-pipe cleaners for flower stems
-white paper to make a butterfly
-marking pens to color the butterfly
-clear contact paper to “laminate” the butterfly
-a drinking straw to hold the butterfly in the vase
-a Tblsp or so of white glue (in a paper cup, and mixed with a little water), to glue the tissue decorations to the
-cotton swabs (Q-Tips would also work) to apply the glue
-a piece of yarn to tie around the bottle

Time:
-10 minutes to decorate the bottle, 10 minutes to let it dry
-10 minutes or so to draw and color the butterfly on both sides, then cut out and cover w/contact paper
-15 minutes or so to roam around outside, getting ideas for flowers
-20 to 40 minutes making the tissue paper flowers
~ ~ ~

H.'s vase, covered with tissue paper (some of the paper was patterned, as you see here).

H.’s vase, covered with tissue paper (some of the paper was patterned, as you see here).

We next began dipping our cotton swabs in the watered-down glue and covering the bottle with glue. As we worked, we tore pieces of tissue paper and stuck these onto the bottle in a jigsaw-like fashion. We put glue on top of the tissue, as well, to smooth the paper down and create a shiny finish. H. decided it needed the yarn decoration, to look complete.

The first layer of fringe to make the carnation. We twisted the bottom to make a V-shape.

The first layer of fringe to make the carnation. We twisted the bottom to make a V-shape.

IMG_4064 IMG_4068H. rolled white paper into a small calla lily, tearing the edges for effect, and coloring it yellow. Meanwhile, she asked me to make a carnation. I cut a strip of pink tissue paper 3 x 12 inches and folded it into 1 1/2 inch pieces, as shown, making it up as I went along. I cut fringes and unfolded this, gathering one end into a twist, so the rest poofed out like a pom-pom. We wanted something more fluffy, so H. suggested another layer with deeper pink, which we added. Perfect!

We cut a similar red strip to make a rose, this time cutting the folded tissue into C-shaped curves. On unfolding the curves, we gathered the base into a spiraling shape—our tissue paper rose (above right). Then we walked around in the garden and looked at different kinds of flowers. We talked about flowers with a trumpet shape, like the calla lily, and how these attract more bees and hummingbirds. We talked about flowers with a 5-petaled shape, which have more wind-blown pollen. We made two of these: an orange-colored geranium (above left) and a hibiscus of maroon and magenta (below).

H. chose two colors of red to make the hibiscus (right); we used a silver pipe cleaner to make the stamen.

H. chose two colors of red to make the hibiscus (right); we used a silver pipe cleaner to make the stamen.

Because of my work in the area of sensory integration, I’m well aware that this kind of hand-eye play develops a wealth of attributes in the form of dexterity, eye-teaming, depth perception, scanning, and so on. Further, I know how happy people are when they can create from a sense of mind-body congruity. Most important, though, is that following our desire to call in springtime with our creative gifts provided the two of us with a wonderful afternoon of talking, laughter, and the deep pleasure of thinking and creating together. 

(C) Gail Dennison, 2014

It’s a Bonny Day for Dancin’!

St.PatrickDanceTop o’ the morning to ye, and it’s a bonny day for dancin’!

In spring or anytime, I find that dance is a lovely way to increase my vigor and celebrate my day. It’s difficult to dance and not feel happy and light-hearted, plus dancing a complex pattern is great for your memory. Dance may have evolved from people’s seeking a social way to make merry after a day’s work, or to mark the end of a season. Perhaps you enjoy, as I do, such fervent dances as the Irish or Highland jig, or more choreographed forms like contra dance, English Country Dance (perhaps driven by the lilting sound of a tin whistle!), or the festive grapevine or even modern Western square dance. Central to all such Western and European folk dances is a rhythmic and alternating left-right shifting of weight, similar to the Cross Crawl(1) activity from the Brain Gym program.

The Hopscotch

The Hopscotch

Once you’re familiar with the Cross Crawl, you can vary it to do many dance steps, including a version of your own Irish Jig. You just need the right music, or perhaps you’ll sing or whistle along. Let the children join in, and have a dance party!

How to: You can build your Cross Crawl jig from a common jig dance step—the rising step or rise and grind. Dancers use the phrase hop, hop back for the first three movements (#1). The complete step is called the hop hop back, hop 1234 (#1 – 3). Do this first with the right foot leading, then with the left foot leading.
For the right side version:
1. Put your weight on your left foot and lift your right foot (toe pointed) off the ground. Hop once on your left foot, then hop again, bringing     your right foot back behind your left foot. (hop hop back)
2. Then shift your weight onto your right foot, leaving your left foot in the air. Pause slightly.
3. Now alternate with small hops, in place, from foot to foot in the pattern of left-right-left-right, ending with the weight on your right foot.
Now repeat the pattern for the left side.  (To make this a Cross-Crawl step, slightly lift the arm opposite to the lifted foot.)

For a fun variation, you can do this same pattern while lifting the foot to the back, as in the Hopscotch (pictured above).

You might know that the real jig is done with the feet turned out, one in front of the other. However, I suggest keeping both feet pointed forward, hips-width apart, and parallel, as most of us who have been sedentary folks at some point in our lives don’t have the length and strength of posterior muscles (calves, hamstrings, hips . . .) to dance with toes turned out, which would then put a strain on our hips and back.

In all cases, according to biomechanist Katy Bowman(2), the feet need to be pointed straight during walking in order for the ankle to actually work like an ankle (in its correct plane of motion), for the knee to work like the hinge-jointed knee that it is, and for the lateral hip to be engaged. And especially without posterior strength, walking, dancing (or even running) with feet pointed forward helps to protect us from significant stresses throughout the posterior kinetic chain, which could otherwise over time result in frustrating conditions, such as flat feet, bunions, misaligned knee and hip, and the potential injuries these can cause.

May Saint Paddy’s Day (and everyday!) find you dancing and celebrating the wonder and joy of human mobility! 

Author’s Notes:
*Paul and I have been teaching people to do the Cross Crawl for more than 40 years. Click here to discover more about the many benefits of the contralateral Cross Crawl on movement and learning.

(1)The Cross Crawl and other Brain Gym activities are from Brain Gym® Teacher’s Edition, (C) 2010, by Dennison and Dennison. If you have difficulty doing this movement (it does require some coordination), you can easily learn it through a brief repatterning, available from Brain Gym Instructors  (see below). Further, many Brain Gym Instructors teach the Cross Crawl in a dance-like form, or you can enjoy a whole day with more than thirty variations of the Cross Crawl offered in the Movement Dynamics course that I developed in 1990 (see course listings at the same link).

Here are more tips on how to do a jig.

For more research on the benefits of moving together (interpersonal synchrony) and its effects on social bonds, see:
1. Cirelli, Laura K., Kathleen M. Einarson, and Laurel J. Trainor. 2014. “Interpersonal Synchrony Increases Prosocial Behavior in Infants.” Developmental Science: This study of 14-month olds  “. . . support[s] the hypothesis that interpersonal motor synchrony might be one key component of musical engagement that encourages social bonds among group members, and suggest[s] that this motor synchrony to music may promote the very early development of altruistic behavior.”
2. Shaw DJ, Czekóová K, Chromec J, Mareček R, Brázdil M (2013) Copying You Copying Me: Interpersonal Motor Co-Ordination Influences Automatic Imitation. PLoS ONE 8(12): e84820. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084820
3. Hove MJ, Risen JL (2009) It’s all in the timing: Interpersonal synchrony increases affiliation. Social Cognition 27: 949–960. doi: 10.1521/soco.2009.27.6.949 PubMed/NCBI

For the English country dancers among us, enjoy this lively Newcastle version of ECD (popular in Europe and the American colonies from the mid-1600s to the late 1800s, and becoming popular here again today). Paul and I are always a bit tickled by doing the “figure of 8” sequence, in which one partner follows the other in a large Lazy 8 pattern around other dancers—you can see it at :40 sec. Also this: A lovely Scottish Country Dance, eight-some Reel. And this: Galician (Spanish) traditional folk dance: Muiñeira de Fraga

See the video review “All About Your Knees” on the work of biomechanist Katy Bowman to learn more about the mechanics of foot position and how this can affect knees. See also Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says, by Katy Bowman, M.S., 2013.

© 2013 and 2016 by Gail E. Dennison. All rights reserved.

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

photo credit: istockphoto.com

Book Review: Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says, by Katy Bowman, M.S.

Propriometrics Press, © Katy Bowman 2013. 447 pages. Softbound. This informative book retails for $21.95, or $9.99 for the electronic version; both are now available on Amazon.com. Bowman is also the author of Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet, another great reference for your home library.

Katys-Book-Large (1)

Gail E. Dennison

When I first heard Katy Bowman lecture some six years back, I immediately knew that she is a force for positive change. And now, reading Katy’s latest book has affirmed for me the value of her innovative work as a biomechanist and leading expert on alignment. I so appreciate her unique understanding of physical function and her commonsense, humorous, and altogether appealing vision of wellness and vigor.

Besides all that, Katy is a no-nonsense coach, even getting people (like me), who weren’t chosen in childhood P.E. games, to do squats every day and take on new movement patterns for physical resiliency.

Katy’s new book, Alignment Matters, is a collection of blog posts from katysays.com, written during the five years that began in 2007. While teaching us to keep ears over shoulders over hips over knees over ankles in optimal alignment, Katy weaves a narrative fabric to explain how the musculoskeletal structure of the body ideally functions as a unified collective. Did you know, for instance, that the way you walk could be damaging your knees or that the way you position yourself at your computer screen could be the cause of headaches as well as back or hip pain?

Katie emphasizes to her readers that “Your muscles are not just for exercise (they’re not even FOR exercise!), but drive every function in the body.”

A passionate movement advocate, Bowman explains that how we move our muscles is ultimately how we nourish our blood, achieve osteogenesis, restore oxygen to our tissues, and keep our electromagnetic human physique in prime working order.

To build bone and muscle, we don’t need to lift weights, Katy clarifies. Since we’re already carrying our body’s weight, why not learn to carry it correctly, with our large muscles, instead of burdening the small muscles of the back (whose job this isn’t)?

In this in-depth assessment of human movement, Katy also includes an important section on pregnancy, childbirth, babies, and children. Her research is invaluable in helping us guide infants and youngsters toward wellness and resiliency, as she navigates such diverse daily-life topics as why to go barefoot, alternatives to sitting, and the difference between baby “wearing” and baby carrying. Regarding shoes, clothing, furniture, and baby gear, Katy points out culturally induced habits that can create a long-term trajectory away from organ vitality, bone health and density, and optimal circulation of blood and lymph. She gives us viable remedies for the sedentary patterns our culture has fallen into, and explains how even a child’s tennis shoe can create structural misalignments. She shows how the example we adults are setting is preventing our children from being as strong and active as they could be, and points us toward viable alternatives.

Katy Bowman began her teaching career right here in my California town, so I had the good fortune to learn from her directly. She opened my eyes to the difference in wellness that a mere fraction of an inch of positioning can make in one’s ability to straighten the knees, untuck the pelvis, point the feet forward, and keep the body’s weight back over the heels. Katy points out how the sacrum, pelvic floor, and gluteal muscles play a central role in supporting nearly all bodily functions, and shows us how to strengthen these vital areas. (As she says, “It’s simple, not easy,” and it begins with not sitting so much.)

Bowman’s work reflects her conviction that exercise and movement are two entirely different things. She provides the research and the logic to help us shift our mindset from “fixing” ourselves to making beneficial lifestyle changes. She tells her readers how to stop using exercise as compensation for sedentary hours and rediscover their natural enjoyment of moving and breathing, giving us a wealth of options for discovering the new territory of dynamic movement.

As Katy so eloquently puts it, “. . . not moving is not an option for those of us who know that the body is a self-winding clock. . . . Pain with movement is a signal to be heeded. The signal is saying, The way you’re moving is doing you harm. The muscles on your frame are not supporting you. You can fix the way you move or you can just lie down now. Which makes more sense?”


Reviewers note:
Click here to read Katy Bowman’s original blogs online for free.

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.

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