We're raising a generation who'll forget what their hands are capable of.

I had an interesting conversation with my son that got my wheels turning. Ellis commented on the trend in his games that requires less interaction from their users. An example of this would be his new football game app. It let's you pick the characters and settings and then it plays out the scenario for you while you watch. No need to use your hands most of the time. It's lazy video game playing.

After he'd brought this up I mentioned Google glasses and the idea that you don't even use your hands, just eye movements.

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Another example of how we use our hands less is the whole-no cursive required in school- issue. I spoke about this with an occupational therapist. She was horrified that so many children wouldn't develop their hand muscles properly because cursive exercises muscles in a different way than if kids just print.

I believe there's a solution for our techie society and it's a simple one that develops storytelling brain muscles as well as hands. Drawing.

As a kid I spent so much time drawing. I have this old light up Barbie tracing table that was a hand-me-down from my older sisters. Check out that 1965 fashion! That thing is a huge part of my childhood. Even though it's broken and the box is falling apart, I can't bring myself to get rid of it.

So, when Ellis showed interest recently in improving his drawing skills I was psyched . While my daughter will write stories all day long, Ellis will draw. All. Day. Long. He asked me how to draw a wolf and we stumbled our way through it, searching to find pictures for reference.

The next day Ellis informs me he's started a club at school. "A club? What kind of club?" Apparently, after our convoluted lesson, he's now the expert and is teaching the other kids how to draw wolves. Within a few days everyone wanted to join the drawing club during free time. The teacher suggested he send around a sign up sheet and have the kids submit a drawing as an audition since there we're so many kids expressing interest in joining this club.


"Mom, I had twelve kids sign up the first day. TWELVE KIDS , Mom. On the FIRST DAY !"

Okay, Ellis, I get it. You're a rock star.

I started asking questions. I tried to understand why he needed a sign up sheet, an audition drawing, a board of directors and a corner office for this club. Can't the kids just draw on their own?

I finally understood when he told me the STORY he'd developed to go with the pictures. His wolves live in packs. His drawing buddy was charged with drawing the maps showing the terrain where each pack lives. Some live in the mountains, some in the forest, some on the grasslands, etc. Each pack had a name and certain physical characteristics. Certain clans get along with each other and are peaceful, while others are more warlike.

The problem wasn't that the students wanted to draw wolves. They wanted to illustrate a story. For that, they had to consult the author.

I think in today's visual media culture, it's hard to provoke the storytelling part of kids' brains without using pictures. If they start with drawing and end up eventually writing it down with words later, there's nothing wrong with that. Visual thinkers tend to think in images, not words, so your little artist may actually be a storyteller in disguise.

If you'd like to encourage your kids to draw more, consider investing in how to draw books. Instead of bringing the I pod along every time they need to wait a few minutes, what about bringing a lap desk? Paper and pencils?

Many of you might think, "But I'm not good at drawing!" So what? Is being good really the point? It's a great quiet activity. If you get instructional drawing books for your kids, maybe you'll improve too! Besides, there are many styles of drawing. Maybe you just haven't discovered your style yet. Aiming for realism can be frustrating. Maybe you're more of a cartoonist.

A really great resource online is Art For Kids on YouTube. This guy is the bomb. He's a dad and he teaches how to draw simple pictures with his kids. He uses markers so the lines are bold and easy to see on screen. Some are more realistic and some are cartoon-ish.

Drawing can be a silly quality time activity too! Try to draw each others' faces with your eyes closed (Prepare to be fun house mirror-ized). Try drawing nonsense doodles, then trading your doodles and turning them into a picture. These activities are great for restaurants while you wait for your food.

As an added benefit, I find drawing therapeutic. While I'm drawing, there's nothing else on my mind except what I'm doing with my hands. Everything else just goes away.

I find I'm not good at just drawing anything, but I can copy whatever I see if I take my time. Copying counts! Even tracing with the paper on top of the book counts! You're still creating something, developing hand muscle control, and using your eyes.

Here are some books of various difficulty to inspire your kids:

This, "How To Draw," series by, "Dover, How To Draw," is for the beginner, it's the simplest introduction to drawing.

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Posted in Home Post Date 05/30/2019