Toy Blog - Toys, Parenting, and Kids

Sightless Drawing – a New Perspective

I recently came across an activity that is quite simple, but for my boys and me, provided oodles of fun and playing time.  While this is really geared toward older children, it can be just as fun with younger ones as well.

Each person needs paper and a pencil (or crayon, but my boys found pencils easier to manage).  The key is to draw a picture without looking at it.  This process forces your brain to think perspectively and to be intentional with each mark.  Start with something simple, such as a tree or a house.  Either blindfold the person doing the drawing, ask him or her to look away, or sit in a darkened room.  Use your non-drawing hand to orient your pencil with the paper, feeling for the edges.  Then, draw!

With practice, my boys got better and better.  Once they were able to “see” the picture in their mind while they drew, they found that it was easier to produce the desired drawing.  We moved on to more complicated ideas, such as landscapes, people, animals and even a space scene.

Another idea is to place the paper on your head (with a book underneath to give a solid writing surface) and draw a picture on top of your head.  When I was younger, this was a great activity that my friends and I would try at Girl Scouts, in the lunchroom, and in any free time we had.  Our favorite was to attempt to draw a pig, but we did venture into other simple objects such as cars and flowers.  This activity is more difficult than the other; not only are you having to draw without seeing what you are doing, you are having to do it in a different angle and perspective.

Challenge your kids (and yourself) to attempt some different art together today.

Dancing Is Brain Food

It is Vacation Bible School week here at my house, and naturally, the songs from the week are stuck in my head.  It is all I can think about and it is driving me CRAZY!

See, I’m the songleader for the entire group – almost 300 children.  It is exhausting because they are all excited, the songs are peppy, and I naturally fall into that “spastic mommy” mode with them.  But, by noon when the whole thing is over, I’m a zombie!

I have to hand it to the creators of our curriculum, though.  They know what they are doing as far as including some key elements of child development in with this week-long program.  One of the most obvious concepts that I have experienced this week is centered around movement.  See, not only do I teach the children the songs for the week, but I also teach them the movements that go with them.

One of the first things I learned in my child development classes was on brain function and ways that we can encourage brain development in small children.  There are things you can do with even infants that will develop a more complex relationship between the hemispheres of the brain.  By physically crossing one part of your body over to the other (bending at the waist from side to side with your arms over your head, touching your right hand to your left knee, crossing your arms in front of your body), you are encouraging snapses to form between the right and left hemisphere.  And, the more complex and related the parts of your brain become, the more “brain power” you have.  Fun, huh?

So, I’m watching these 290-something children, dancing around, following the movements, and having a BLAST, and I notice the sway of the arms above the head from side to side, the motion of the left hand to the right side of the body, and the cross-over kicks they show in the video.  It is amazing to think that, right there, right in front of me, all sorts of exciting things are happening in their heads.  All with a little music and a lot of movement.

So, dance with your child, no matter how young or how old.  Get those bodies moving, not just for your physical health but for your mental health as well!

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