Does your child love to doodle? Ever since Matthew was young, he loved to doodle. His grandaunt and granduncle would lay out a roll of mahjong (or butcher) paper on their coffee table and a cup of markers for him, and he could sit and doodle all day.
Zachary has recently started to doodle as well, taking after his brother. All that time spent cultivating his hand and finger muscle strength, working on writing phonetically, and sharing stories — all these things are coming together beautifully to empower him in creating and expressing his thoughts.
Montessori is a lot about observing to recognize what a child’s current interests are and his developmental needs. It’s also about then taking action to empower and enable them to freely work on these interests and needs. So how have I fed this recent development?
- Provide lots of paper. Make them easy to access. We stock a lot of reusable paper from my husband’s office and from friends, the kind that is printed only on one side so that the other side could be used for doodles. I also bought sketchbooks to help corral all their drawings, however this doesn’t seem to be as “natural” to them as just using loose sheets of paper. I can’t understand why and I haven’t yet found a system to organize and keep all the loose paper, but luckily they are more than happy to draw on their sketchbooks as long as I remind and usher them towards it.
- Provide lots of stationery. Make them easy to access. Previously we had some stationery on the shelf. However because they’ve started doodling, they now need a lot more creative tools than what would fit on the shelf. I decided the best way is to corral everything together, but still make them easily accessible and in plain sight. (Because out of sight, out of mind, right?) So I found an old VCR cassette tape storage box and transformed into a stationery caddy. Every scissor, ruler, pencil, or marker has their own little cup and place in this caddy. And the caddy sits on the huge work desk where the kids work and play.
- Provide loose accessories. Make them easy to access. We have a box of scrap paper and a box of stickers. The scrap paper box contains smaller pieces of coloured paper that really come in handy when doing collages. My kids don’t tend to embellish their work quite as much, however they can really go all out when they do, and these “accessories” help. It’s kind of like scrapbooking for kids, isn’t it?
- Provide alphabet and number reference cards. Make them easy to access. Zachary is able to write words by sounding them out phonetically, however he doesn’t always remember how to form a letter. (He’s doing some mirror-image printing now.) The sandpaper letters were greatly helpful for this, however he doesn’t seem to be as keen on using them anymore. But because he still needs a point of reference, I printed some alphabet and number cards on card stock so that he can refer to them independently. You can get the free printables by clicking on the links above.
- Provide drawing prompts. The September issue of Chirp magazine came with a pet hamster house drawing prompt that really got Zach excited. (He kept asking for a pet hamster afterwards and I’m not sure if I’m ready to deal with it!) Some time later, I created a “What’s in this house” drawing prompt which was really successful. I find it helps to focus their creative mind on a specific topic. The soccer drawing prompt above is from this book (from Amazon US and Canada). I love the variety in there plus there are bits and pieces of facts on each drawing prompt.
- Carry notebooks for each kid in your bag. I love that the boys can be spontaneous with doodling. They each have a little notebook which I carry in my bag, and this is how we keep busy when we are waiting at the restaurants, dentist, clinic, etc. I purchased our mini notebooks from the dollar store and they come with an elastic band, so we just stick a short pencil in the book and it stays there and in my handbag without needing any other extra pouches. They’re only the size of my palm.
If your kids love doodling, be sure to send me a picture here! My kids and I love to see what other children are doodling; oftentimes they get lightbulb inspirational moments just from checking out what their peers are doing.