The fastest selling books right now are Adult Colouring Books! You can find them nearly everywhere that sells books or magazines. The mindful act of colouring from our childhood is being rediscovered around the world.
We all remember the hours we spent as children colouring in pictures of animals, super heroes, flowers and beautiful nature scenes. If we finished our work or had a few minutes to spare in school, there was always stacks of colouring sheets to fill in with bright colours. On rainy days our break times were filled with colouring books, crayons, markers and pencil colours.
As a matter of fact,during my first years of teaching, I enjoyed finding appropriate colouring sheets on current topics for children to complete in their spare time. Colouring competitions were common and children loved them! But, quickly they were banished from schools for the most part. Colouring sheets were seen as time wasters and stifling of creativity.
I recently read a study were the researchers measured the anxiety levels of children before and after giving time to colour in mandalas and other pattern sheets compared to anxiety levels before and after free form colouring where children draw and colour their own patterns. The time spent colouring pattern sheets showed a significant decrease in anxiety as compared to free form which showed no difference to anxiety levels.
I find this extremely interesting! Have we relegated a useful strategy for developing mindfulness? Have we removed a life long skill of mindfulness colouring that, as adults, we are flocking to in droves?
The act of colouring allows the brain to relax and focus on one thing; being in the moment of colouring. It allows the brain time to rest and recuperate. Surely, there must be something to this if, we as adults, are returning to this strategy to cope with our own daily stressful lives. For people who find traditional quiet meditation difficult, this form of active meditation has many of the same effects on the body.
I have personally seen children who have come to me being very anxious and distressed, relax within minutes of being given a sheet to colour. Their breathing slows, their shoulders relax and their face softens. After a bit of time, I am able to speak to them about what is upsetting them in a clam manner that allows us to sort the issue.
I have also seen in a class that uses a mindfulness corner, children who are upset and distressed, seek out the colouring sheets and spend 10 minutes colouring in the patterns before returning to the work they need to complete in a clam, positive attitude.
How can you use it in your classroom? Some successful activities have been:
- several different sheets in a special mindfulness corner (to be discussed in another blog) to be used by children when they are feeling upset, anxious or stressed.
- having a set time everyday with 10-15 minutes devoted to mindful colouring
- allowing mindful colouring following a particularly difficult lesson to allow time for the brain to accept the new information.
Here are some links to free printable mindfulness colouring sheets you can use.
Affirmation Colouring Sheets- http://www.shambalakids.com/images/FREE%20Mindful%20Coloring%20Book.pdf
Mandala Sheets- http://www.mandala-4free.de/en/index.htm
Mandala Sheets- http://www.coloringcastle.com/mandala_coloring_pages.html
What are your ideas for using Mindfulness Colouring in your classroom? Share them in the comments below.