2012-08-23 / Community

Zentangle for relaxation

Summertime is all about being active outside. It’s also a time to teach children how to unwind. They’ll need this skill all their lives. For more ways to help children relax see the authors’ books “Learning through the Seasons” in museums, bookstores, and grandparentsteachtoo.org. Educator and artist Colleen Walker contributed Zentangle expertise.

Materials Needed:

White paper or cloth, stones, ruler, different sized tips of black or colored markers, crayons, or pencils.

Zentangle sounds like a form of exercise. In a way it is. It is an art exercise that helps people relax and focus, especially children. Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images.

Picture a piece of paper with large scribbles that may be made from a thicker marker and then many thinner straight or curved lines surrounding and working out from the original doodle filling up the page and space inside the doodle. That’s Zentangle coined by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Check out Google images and Youtube for examples.

What to do:

Help children begin with a 4-inch square paper. Show them how to use a black crayon, pencil, or black pen to make a large scribble or several smaller ones, several numbers, their initials, or geometric figures scattered around the paper. Any starting doodle is fine.

Artists often start with thick lines, but there are no rules, no wrong doodles. Children don’t need to erase. Anything can be incorporated into the larger design. It is important to explain this to children who are accustomed to using an eraser a lot. This is not like printing practice. Zentangle is just for fun.

Now fill in the shapes with thinner straight lines, curved lines, concentric circles, or patterns (repeating designs) until the entire page is filled and all of the doodles are connected in some way. Some parents around the world give children thicker paper to make bookmarks or picture frames.

What Else Can We Do?

Zentangle can also be done on cloth scraps with permanent markers, fabric markers, or archival ink. Tape the cloth the size of a handkerchief or old pillowcase on a piece of cardboard to keep it from wrinkling. The ink may go through the cloth, also. Several children can create Zentangles on their own sections of a pillowcase to keep the drawing area small. The decorated piece can be turned into a pillow, place mat, or special pillowcase. Wash before using to ensure the drawings are permanent.

How Does This Help My Children?

This kind of doodling has been shown to help very active children relax during car rides, reduce panic attacks before very stressful experiences, inspire drawing pictures, improve coordination between eyes and hands, increase attention span, and concentration.

Return to top