I’ve often used crayons… myself, with adults, and as a way to occupy children who are visiting. So I wasn’t surprised when I learned recently that the New Canaan, CT Library has colored pencils and coloring sheets for adults to “check out” and use to relieve stress and even help with writer’s block. What a great idea!
Of course it’s not just crayons and coloring. Art therapy is accepted method of reducing stress and increasing creativity. The experts tell us that activities like coloring help us by serving as a distraction–even if only for a few minutes. Even coloring a picture means thinking about color choice and concentrating on “staying inside the lines.” When we become completely engaged in an activity we achieve a state of “flow” that can be almost meditative. Consider the “runner’s high” as another form of this.
Personally, I think coloring is even more fun if you can do it with a kid. When my nieces and nephews were younger, holiday visits often meant finding a quiet corner and engaging in coloring marathons. At the time, I thought we were playing, In retrospect, we may have been practicing a little stress management. Holidays with the family aren’t always easy.
But coloring can be useful with adults. When I was doing lots of organization design and development programs, I would often have the conference room table set up with boxes of crayons and art paper. The president and vice president would arrive and, while waiting for our session to begin, many would open the crayons and smell them, smiling with evoked childhood memories. The activity itself might be “draw a picture of how you see this organization…” It always took a while to get them started–unfortunately our childhood art skills and courage get surpressed as we “grow up.” But there were always some great and often revealing results.
I was a little disappointed recently when a friend who is very artistically talented said that she’d never call herself an artist because that is not a career choice she’ll be making. We are all artists, really. Art is about many things such as creativity and expression. We can see and use art in different ways. We don’t have to make a living with art, but art can help us make a life.
So I salute the Canaan Library for the reminder. Drawing and coloring are good. In fact, I think I’ll start keeping a box of crayons on my desk.
This advertisement comes from our good friends in Australia… they do seem to have a lot of things figured out. No, I really do not think this product has been invented. But it should be:
We have a large population of people in America who cannot go anywhere without their GPS–even to places in their own town that they truly were able to find, on their own, just four or five years ago. But now they must take their mobile performance support system with them. They have become completely dependent on the box. I can’t help but think they are in danger of losing the skill of thinking their way through a route by, say, using a map. Or perhaps they have never even learned to read a map!
I’m a huge fan of technology, make no mistake. Even on a short trip to Bangor I’ll often “fire up” Greta (Garmin). She helps me keep a sense of my progress and estimated arrival time. She reminds me occasionally to make a turn and sometimes annoys me when I deviate slightly to stop for coffee with her constant recalculating. I confess I somewhat enjoy taking a shortcut that she doesn’t have in her data bank.
We have a tenuous relationship because I refuse to yield my independent thought and directional capabilities to the support system she represents. I gently remind her that she has, more than once, let me down. I like to think I can still get myself out of a lost situation when she leads me astray. I’m discovering that the only time I can’t get myself out is when I’ve been blindly following her commands without thinking or paying some attention to where she’s sending me.
Developing a dependency on her not only may dull the senses, I get concerned it might even reduce my sense of adventure. (I am rarely lost, but have been known to have some adventures.) A few years ago I had a great deal of trouble locating a hotel where I had a reservation. My repeated attempts took me past a visitor information center so I decided to get Greta some help. After briefly stating my problem, the staffer said, “Well, the first thing you have to do is turn off the GPS.” I chuckled at this suggestion as he grabbed a pen and unfolded a paper map, and we ultimately had an interesting conversation covering topics such as “sense of direction,” conflicting messages, and self-reliance in a world that’s increasingly driven by technology.
“Getting lost” may be more about losing a sense of place than about finding things. I learned years ago when hiking in the woods that’s it’s important to turn around frequently–the world is going to look differently on the return trip. We become lost when we aren’t feeling oriented or connected to our surroundings. “This doesn’t look right! Where am I?”
As vacation travel season approaches I usually rethink my relationship with Greta. I remind myself she’s pretty good when it comes to goal orientation, but she’s not likely to say things like, “Did you notice…” or “You know, you could try…” Perhaps some day technology will develop sufficiently for Greta to say things like “Nice lane change!” and “you noticed that before I did…” It would reinforce the fact that she’s working for me, it’s not the other way around. I think she should give me a little more credit than she does.
But for now, it’s going to be up to me to be aware of my surroundings–the way it should be. Better yet, it’s my trip and my vacation. Since I gave her the goal, I can change it. For that matter, since it’s vacation, there will be mornings when there is no goal. She’ll spend a lot of time in “map only” mode as we meander. In the kindest way possible, I’ll let her know, “If I need your help today, I’ll ask for it. Let me see what I can find on my own.”
As the school year winds down (or should that be “as the school year winds up?”) there are more fun events coming up! Yearbooks will be distributed early next week!
On Friday, June 5, students, staff, and community volunteers will drive into Arts Alive! This annual tradition celebrates art, learning, community and life! Students have an opportunity to participate in workshops that include book-making, cartooning, crime fighting, decorative initials, ditty bags, dizzy dancing discs, name signs, mini-foosball, message boards, masks, martial arts, resistant painting, sand art, sculpture, slate etching, thumbprint art, tie-dye, tumbling, drumming, finger painting, flubber, origami, origami people, painted pots, paper lanterns, slate welcome signs, stop motion animation, stretch bags, and string art—nearly 30 assorted activities!
On Tuesday, June 9, Sixth Graders will host a Culture Fair–the culmination of a project in which students chose and study a country in depth, then share that information. During the day, sixth graders share their projects with other students, then with friends and family in the evening from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The fair features create a displays elements of the students’ studies such as history, foods, music, maps, games, puzzles, and sports. Many students chose a recipe to make in order to give people a “taste” of a dish from their country.
Remember, the District Budget Validation Referendum will be held at the local polls on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, during regular polling hours.
On Wednesday, June 10 Sixth Graders offer a fast paced Showcase of Skills that includes plyometrics–a form of exercise that involves rapid jumping skills, designed to increase strength—and cartwheels, round-offs, dive rolls, back walkovers, and walking on two hands. Students will also demonstrate a 3-Person weave into a basketball layup, advanced jump roping skills, hula hoop tricks, and stretch bags—a creative movement piece with a surprise ending. The beat goes on with a very creative mix of percussion performances including recycled percussion, body percussion, and traditional African songs with authentic instruments. This is the fourth year for the drumming program at PCES and sixth graders have working very hard this year to put a fun program to demonstrate their skills. The program begins at 1:15 p.m. in the gymnasium.
On Thursday, June 11, Fifth Graders will be featured in a graduation ceremony celebrating the completion of the D.A.R.E. Program at PCES. The program will include reading of essays written by a representative of each participating class followed by the musical, “Just for Fun!” which is a collection of fun songs and lots of jokes and movement. It is a wonderful way to conclude their fifth grade year — the title says it all “Just for Fun, a lighthearted revue for young voices” The play is written by Teresa and Paul Jennings and directed by homeroom teachers with the assistance of Michelle Briggs, Music teacher, and Sheryl Allen, Physical Education Teacher. The program starts at 6 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.
On Wednesday, June 17 students leave the school for the last time… until fall!