Saturday, December 1, 2012


Recently I began running into these things called Zentangles every once in a while, which look suspiciously like the doodles in the margins of all my college notebooks. I began to remember how it would be easier for me to concentrate on lectures if, between note-taking, I was doodling. Just a fact of life for the visual among us.....

I started thinking that this would be fun to do as an art lesson with kids. All the Zentangles I saw were simply black on white, with lots of repetitive lines, dots, squiggles, etc, to fill up space in a seemingly random way. Would it be relaxing for kids, or would it be frustrating? How would I present it?

My idea was to introduce it with no talking. I gathered kids together.... this was a second grade.... and put up a sheet of 9x12 white paper on the wall and started with one long, sweeping, curving line. I added more lines next to it, several grouped together, then started off in another direction. I kept "adding to" with groups of dots, or little zig-zags, or whatever. Then I stopped.

"What was I doing?" I asked them, and among their responses, I started writing down some key items.... "drawing lines".... "drawing dots".... "doing the same thing again and again"... etc..... until I had some guidelines on the board next to my demonstration paper. Then I gave them directions:

Start with one long line across the paper. Make sure it goes off the edges. Add five more lines right next to it. Then, either make more of those lines or go in a new direction. Here's the rule:  You need to really, really think about what you are doing and you have to repeat each line, dot, shape, or design at least five times.

Five times.  So now I had another idea:  As students finished, I had them choose one colored pencil to color in five spaces, anywhere on the paper, all with the same color. And I renamed them Pentangles. :-)

Here's the best part:  This class is notoriously chatty. Yak yak yak all day long. During this activity, you could practically hear a pin drop! Usually during art time there is a noticeable amount of chatter, conversation, etc., but this activity just inherently seemed to turn the classroom into a whole group of little mindful people, all concentrating on their own designs.

We mounted the finished product on colored construction paper, and they are awesome!

1 comment:

neansai said...

I'll have to try this with my grandson. Your students are privileged to have you teach them.