IMG_3470It’s suddenly fall again. There’s a change in the air . . . a new tension and resolve. The blues and greens of summer are turning orange and brown. I’m hearing questions from children that they often ask at this time: Can we make decorations? Can I have a different costume? What can I be for Halloween? 

I know many youngsters (and grown-ups, too!) who anticipate Halloween with great pleasure, yet I also know some who don’t seem to be quite ready for all the excitement. So here are some playful Halloween images that call on the typical colors and themes of Halloween yet are a little brighter and perhaps more humorous in tone, giving the child within us some choices regarding the more “scary” elements.

IMG_3473I created these three projects using the Double Doodle process (if you don’t know how, click here for a way to begin). Most children by age 9 and older can easily draw Double Doodle ghosts (as in picture two; newbies may initially want to draw these right around a midline fold). They’ll also have fun with the slightly more difficult Double Doodle-style tree (like this one with a face), made by letting the hands move fluidly up and down to the right and left of the midline of the page. These don’t have to be precise mirror-image shapes; enjoy experimenting with asymmetries within a symmetrical context, as seen here. And feel free to fine-tune your image using your dominant hand. After all, this is your design.

IMG_3468A whimsical scarecrow is a bit more challenging. I explain to youngsters that the scarecrow, usually in the shape of a human and dressed in old clothes, has been important to farmers around the world. It’s often homemade—a decoy used to keep crows and other birds from eating seed or ripening crops, thus it’s name. The scarecrow is placed in an open field, like the cornfield suggested here. Your Double Doodle can be as simple or elaborate as you like.

The owl, as I’ve drawn it here, still rests on the midline yet leaves room for asymmetry. I’ve added a gnarled branch on which he sits, and a full moon to reflect on.

As you Double Doodle, notice how relaxed your eyes, hands, and mind become. Notice, too, the pleasure of choosing your own colors and shapes, and of letting your unique versions emerge. I see that, for children, any “scariness” is diminished by the power of their own personalized doodles. Perhaps this is part of the power of symbol itself—from image to alphabet to word. Beginning with a child’s first scribbles (“Look Mommy, it’s a kitty!”) to more structured mark-making, the excitement we feel as we construct a visual mark to represent some element of our world can rarely be matched by a pre-made art project or computer graphic that merely duplicates someone else’s ideas. This excitement is the very essence of what nurtures a love of symbols and literacy—and ultimately, of reading.

To see a 1 min. vimeo of children’s Double Halloween Doodles, click here. For a tutorial on Double Doodle Halloween pumpkins, click here. To see how the Double Doodle can be used for drawing and painting, see Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole Brain Vision. For Christmas Double Doodle images, Double Doodle Holiday Play.

Happy Halloween! May you enjoy the parade of trick-or-treaters that come to your door. It’s fun to talk with youngsters, hear what they have to say about their costumes, and to take a moment to admire these (and as mentioned, you might be helping to instill a love of artful creating plus the language to go with—the heart of loving to read and write). At our house, we give out small trinkets—rings, games, colored pencils and such, and enjoy the inevitable surprised delight that children express when they realize they’re getting something besides candy.

*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.

** See Research Nugget: Visual Skills and Reading.

For a translation of this article into Spanish, click here: Magia de Halloween con el Doble Garabato!

© 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 an instructor near you.


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