I've learned a few things over the years when it comes to getting kids to talk & share --
First, a good snack goes a long way ;)
And second, kids are more likely to open up when they are preoccupied in an activity WITH an adult.
If you're doing something (like prepping dinner or checking email) while trying to have a conversation with the kids, you'll probably hear a lot of "Good." or "Fine." when you ask about their day.
BUT -- if you're both engaged in an easy & quiet activity (like a fun scavenger hunt or an easy art project) you'll be amazed at how much kids are willing to share.
Enter Zentangle Rocks!
Have you ever zentangled before?
It's so easy, lots of fun and actually a very relaxing way to spend some time together.
Truth be told, this activity came about because we were having a problem keeping papers in one place during our afterschool study sessions. I like to get the kids outside on the deck for snack and to complete any homework they may have that day (or just for some outdoor reading time).
The problem: We have an outdoor fan over the table to keep things cool -- and it blows around any papers that are sitting on the table.
So after a few afternoons of chasing homework sheets, I thought we needed a paperweight and grabbed a few of the large rocks we collected on one of our trips.
Nature Craft for Kids: Zentangle Rocks
The up side to our solution -- the rocks work perfectly to keep the papers in one place!
The down side -- they were UG-ly! Well, pretty in their own right but since I would frequently keep them on the table, my husband would ask "Why do we have random rocks on the outdoor table?"
So I thought we should decorate them and I ran through our options --
we could paint them
or paint pictures on them
or decoupage them (do people still do that?)
OR we could do something super easy and zentangle them!
You may be asking -- what is zentangle?
Zentangle® is a type of meditative art where you fill in spaces using repetitive patterns. It's relaxing, beautiful and super easy to do for anyone -- adults, kids, the dog (ok, maybe not the dog but they'll enjoy watching :)
You can learn all about the origins of this art form at Zentangle.com along with viewing some beautiful examples of zentangle drawings too.
It's one of those art projects that you don't have to over-concentrate on during the process so you can talk while you create.
This is what I mean when I say 'pre-occupied' -- busy enough to be distracted by an activity but not so focused that you can't carry on a conversation.
Plus it's so creative -- there's no ONE way to zentangle.
Each person decides that their patterns will be and how they will be shaped and placed on the paper or object. Which is awesome because then you're not providing any directions -- you get time to just enjoy a conversation and drawing session with the kids.
Here's what you'll need to create your own Zentangle rocks:
• smooth rocks -- they can be rounded or flat
• markers -- if you use permenant markers, your design will last but if you have young kids and want to use washable markers, that's great too; just know that the design may wash off.
We used the Bic Mark It Permanent Markers (affiliate link so you can see the details). Since we had light colored rocks, they worked beautifully. If you have dark rocks, you may want to find a metallic set of markers or even use paint markers so you'll get better coverage.
My daughter is also brilliant -- she immediately turned the package over and used each color marker to draw a line next to the marker titles so we could easily see the various shades and hues we would be using.
The first thing you'll need to do is create sections on your rock. You can do this however you'd like -- big sections or small ones. I would suggest larger areas for younger kids as they may need more room while drawing.
I chose to use straight lines on my rock while my daughter used curved lines (we thought it looked a little like a turtle's shell).
Once you have designated sections, start filling in repetitive patterns.
Again, choose any design or pattern you'd like -- this is part of the creativity. If you get stuck on what to draw, take a peek at your child's rock -- kids are always creative.
We chose to use a variety of colors but you can also zentangle in just one color and it looks really cool too!
Just draw & chat - chat & draw.
It's a perfect afterschool activity or one that's easy to do almost anywhere since you only need rocks and markers. It's also a fun idea for a group (scout troop or art class) since each person will have their own unique design.
Imagine doing them at a family reunion or as a pre-dinner activity on Thanksgiving :)
And they make AWESOME gifts too -- one that can be totally created by the kids! Grandparents, teachers and even Mom & Dad would appreciate a little nature art to hold down their papers.
MORE NATURE CRAFTS FOR KIDS
Crafting with Items from Nature (pictured above)
Looking for more fun ideas & seasonal activities to do with the kids?