How to help your children draw their way through an ‘experience’

How do you get your children to express themselves in a difficult situation, when language doesn’t necessarily flow that easily?  Drawing is the perfect answer!  Every child can pick up a pencil and when an adult is sensitive to what they are drawing, or telling you about at the end, it can be a very therapeutic tool.

Here is how our ‘experience’ of a missing pet unfolded. 

Day 1 – Through a chain of events, Master 2 opened the cage door, outside, of our beloved cockatiel of eight years.  Before we knew it, he was gone.  Thinking we had slim chances of finding Trevor, we did a small search around our block and went to put up some LOST signs.

I went to bed feeling dreadful for our poor pet, out with the wild birds and a 3degree night.

 

 

 

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Day 2 – I felt like I had to do one last call out, so I got up early and whistled my way around the block.  Just as I was about to head home, I heard him!  I went to find him in a tree and called my husband to come and help.  The boys waited in the car while my husband got up a ladder and we put a rake out for Trevor to climb onto (he had no idea how to fly downwards to us).  Well our poor bird got a fright from the rake and flew off – over the road and into a bush somewhere.

I spent the next half day whistling my way around a much wider radius of our house and ended up back at home feeling frustrated and tired and worried, again, for our bird.  The boys were now trying to make sense of it all and wondering why Mummy was so sad.  They were sure Trevor would be back. 

That afternoon, with my husband gone for the next few days, the boys and I walked to two parks, putting up more signs and whistling more.  In a last ditch effort, I drove us back to the bush where we saw him head and whistled out the car window.  I just had to find him.  He called out!!!  So again, the boys waited in the car while I searched for Trevor, whistling from somewhere in a big clump of gum trees, over a swamp…..  

The next while included:

  • Trevor flying at me and missing me and ending up high in a gumtree
  • Myna birds attacking him
  • Me attempting to throw 2metre branches at them
  • Me wondering how Trevor would manage to just drop from the tree, back to me
  • Trevor flying off to another tree with birds chasing him
  • Me chasing Trevor, the boys watching on in the car

Well, Trevor did think about flying down to me again but just couldn’t do it.  So I jumped in the car with the boys and raced back to our house to get his cage, in a hope he might come down to his seed and water.  All the while, I was explaining to the boys about the excitement, yes, of finding him but the nervous times ahead of trying to catch him and about the fact it was nearly dark.

We left Trevor in the branch that night with his cage under the tree.  The boys and I discussed the myna birds and why they were attacking Trevor.  We made a plan to go on an early morning adventure the next day to catch him.  I was at this point forcing myself to use positive thinking AND talking in front of the boys about it.  I also had to be organised and clear with ideas of how to catch him AND entertain the boys for who knows how long the next morning.  

Day 3 – With my stomach feeling a bit sick and my heart in my mouth, we got back to the tree and Trevor was quiet but still there.  Unfortunately, he was no closer to coming down and was not wanting to give himself away to the myna birds, who happened to have a nest a few branches over.  I spoke with a groundsman (of the retirement village we were in) who agreed I should come back at a slightly more decent hour and use the neighbour’s hose to get Trevor down. 

We drove home and waited the nervous wait.  It was here, we had the time to start drawing.  Of course there were many parts of the story we could have drawn about, but it was nice to see what the boys chose and what they talked about.  It allowed for us all to have a ‘free range’ discussion about any thoughts that were on the top of their head.  And let me see what they were making of it all.  

Master 4's myna bird - the 'naughty bird' (with an unwelcome scribble on top from Master 2)

Master 4’s myna bird – the ‘naughty bird’
(with an unwelcome scribble on top from Master 2)

I started drawing my own experience, and soon Master 4 was adding to it. 

Mummy at the bottom waving her big stick.  The boys in the car yelling 'mummy'!...

Mummy at the bottom waving her big stick. The boys in the car yelling ‘mummy’!…

Well we went back again.  The boys geared up for more waiting while Mummy raced out and found the groundsman.  He sprayed the hose, which only attracted attention to Trevor, he tried his leaf blower, which did nothing, then he got out his extendable saw.  He moved the branch and Trevor flew off again.  My heart was back in my mouth racing after him and seeing the main road.  It was two crows that gave Trevor away and there he was, at my height.  I grabbed him, full of relief and ecstatic.  

We brought Trevor home and cut him some new branches and let him rest.  He was fairly battered. 

Got him!

Got him!

That night, unfortunately, Trevor took a turn for the worse, and died.  Whilst it was very sad, it was good to know that he was at home with us and this made the boys realise how much they loved him. 

Day 4 – I broke the news to the boys.  Master 4 understood that death means that Trevor’s body has died but his spirit lives on, the one that is braver and stronger and full of love, for having gone through all of this.  Master 2 worked out Trevor was ‘sleeping’ 😀

We drew some more. 

Master 4's account of events from the capture to Trevor's death.

Master 4’s account of events from the capture to Trevor’s death.

Master 4 was now just talking as he drew.  It was good to see what he had understood from it all.  He was unsure how to draw hearing about Trevor’s death.  I explained not necessarily drawing a picture, but maybe using the different coloured pencils to show his feelings with his hand movements or by the colours he chose.  I modelled for him. 

Drawing the moment Master 4 heard of Trevor's death

Drawing the moment Master 4 heard of Trevor’s death

Master 2 joined in drawing a rainbow to bring us some happiness, like the rainbow we had seen on day 3.

Master 2 joined in drawing a rainbow to bring us some happiness, like the rainbow we had seen on day 3.

The hope from day 3...

The hope from day 3…

After doing so many drawings in a few days, the boys are back into their habit of drawing their thoughts and ideas out.  Every time they do regular drawing, they always get so much out of it.  Ideas flow out, drawing skills improve daily and creativity in both drawing and story telling is inspiring! 

In my health coach course, we have learnt about the power of expressing oneself on paper and after the last few days, I aim to sit with the boys and draw more too.  

How much do you draw?  Have you ever encouraged your children to draw their way out of a tough situation?  Will you encourage them to sit down and do drawing more regularly?

I hope to get time soon to post about our ‘Daily draw’, where the boys drew every day for a month.  

Well, that’s it for my Trevor story.  I hope I have shown my boys that persistence and a positive attitude can really bring about miracles.  We should probably never have found Trevor…twice! 

Our backyard classroom

Did you see my post on our ‘creation table’?  We take it to different places in the backyard and the boys immediately start to use these different environments whilst they paint…  There’s been decorated passion fruit, painted tomato and basil leaf prints and some green cherry tomatoes used to roll over the paper and make a print.  Sometimes we paint or draw what we see..
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Interacting with the outdoors provides children with a way to access mindfulness.  We talk about the sensory properties of the garden, take note of the clouds and birds we can see or hear and think about what we are focused on.  Just try it and you’ll automatically feel calmer and ready to create!

 

Let your children learn with art

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Okay, so who encourages painting, drawing or other creative outlets within their children? I am going to try and inspire as many of you as possible to see beyond the mess and learn about the benefits of providing some art materials and all…owing your child to express themselves, receive sensory benefits and not to mention cultivating mindfulness.

We don’t have time for fancy projects, we just get in there and do art for art’s sake.
So who is with me….or open to becoming more inspired to bringing art into their homes…?

How to keep the lids on the felt pens!

Who gets sick of ‘felt pens’ always losing their lids??    ME!!!

This is how the childcare centres keep their ‘felt pens’ together. It also helps the children to put the ‘pens’ away!! Oh and Miss 2 loves to match the colours!!

So this is what you need:

‘Plaster of Paris’, a mixing bowl, large (thick) felt pens, a wooden spoon and some water.

You will need to choose a container to put the  felt pen lids into. I suggest something that is deep enough for the lids to be submerged into (not all the way, see pic).

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The directions asked for 2 parts plaster and 1 part water but I found this was ‘way’ to runny.

This is my trick for making plaster…I added just enough water to the plaster for it to be the consistency of a runny paste or thickened cream. It sets alot quicker and you can put the pen lids into it straight away and it should hold them. Bang the containers gently to get the air bubbles out of the plaster.

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Use any left over plaster in moulds and you can save them (these are great to pull out when we have friends come over and the children need a few minutes of quiet time).

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IMG_2641Here is what the pen lids look like.

pen lids

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Happy drawing!!! Ahhhhh and NO MORE MISSING PEN LIDS!

 

Let your children go WILD!!!

 

 

Children need times throughout their day where they can express themselves with without boundaries (or as little rules as you can manage)!!!

So maybe give yourself some rules.

1.My child can mix up the paints

2.Their painting doesn’t need to look like anything. Sometimes children just explore the feelings of the brush on the paper or like the look of lines.

3. Prepare for mess. Art tarp, paint outside, wash bucket near by.

4. Understand that it is a process. The first time you offer ‘no boundaries art’ it is going to be MESSY, but the next time it will be less and the time after that less again. Children need to explore first then they will begin to investigate.

They need to be allowed to get messy, experiment, learn from mistakes and work through their ideas without constraints. Art is a great way for children to express themselves emotional, intellectually and physically. The leaders in Early Childhood Education believe that children can communicate complex feelings through art alot quicker than through language.

IMG_0380I set up this art experience, each little container had blue, red, green, and yellow. There were some stampers and paintbrushes. I put down some black plastic and put on an art shirt. The painting you can see only held her interest for 2 mins but her ‘ART’ held her interest for 40 mins.

Was it MESSY?? YES!!!

but I had planned for that and when it comes to children’s art the PROCESS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRODUCT!!!!

IMG_0377Here is what she did…. She poured all the colours onto a plastic lid. Then she poured all the paints together. I gave her some sticks and showed her how to mix the paints around on the plastic lid.

 

This is what she learned,

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IMG_0385 “Look mummy I made chocolate”. This was Miss 4, when she was 2.

*Miss 4 now has an ‘ART STUDIO’ but I will let you know about that a bit later.