Wintertime picnics can get children outside

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling, and Katers

Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy, remaining connected to yourself and connected to the world,” according to Dr. Christine Strang neuroscientist at University of Alabama Birmingham. It turns out there’s a lot happening in our minds and bodies when we make art-any kind of art. Art enhances brain function and well-being whether a person suffers from PTSD or a young child is developing a healthy brain, fine motor skills, creativity, emotional balance, a sense of accomplishment, or relieving stress. What does that mean for families? Provide some art basic art supplies in the home and sit down and do art with the kids in happy times, sad, or angry times.

Free Form

Art supplies don’t have to be extensive or expensive. Young children can have a box or cabinet of computer paper, colored construction crayons, markers, paints, Playdough, child scissors tape, glue, and a place to display their art. Some children like postcard size paper rather that big sheets. Some like a piece of paper the size of a table to keep adding to the scene and the story.

A few family members can sit down and join the little ones with soft music on, someone reading a book out loud, or the pleasure of silence and room for conversation from time to time.

In free form art the artists are totally in charge, making what they want. If anyone is stuck, someone can suggest a topic to get the brain going: creating something happy or a recent family drama. It can be a walk in the woods, beach, hills, along the lake, in the snow. What is your favorite, most beautiful, most quiet, safest place to be? Do you want to paint sunshine, a forest, some animals, spaghetti, a cherry pie, peanut butter sandwich, sledding, dolphins jumping out of water, or grandpa?


Some children enjoy premade designs. Mandalas are beautiful art circles that are contained within a square and are found in most cultures. In their most basic form, mandalas are circles arranged into sections that are all organized around a single, central point. Mandala coloring books are found in most stores in the book section and are part of soothing art therapy for all ages. The purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones and to assist with healing. Families find them relaxing and lots of fun. Check “How to Draw a Mandala” at art-is-fun.com.

There are many rewards of art in the family. It activates the hypothalamus and orbitofrontal cortex which are parts of brain associated with appetite regulation, calculating risk, impulse control, and detection of social rules. For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com: wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons live and pod casts; Facebook, Pinterest, and You Tube since 2009.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.


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