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How Scribbling Increases Imagination

The best thing about scribbling is that it not only boosts the imagination but it can also be a way to connect. I use these scribble activities to break the ice, build rapport, have a giggle, get my brains and hands warmed up and connect with others

So If you a parent, teacher or you happen to be in possession of the family archives you are sure to be in ownership of a hefty amount of scribble artworks. We all know children scribble a lot. They get themselves through reams of paper and sometimes choose to delight you with some on on-the-wall versions. Scribbling is part of kinaesthetic development, meaning that it is a means of developing body awareness and awareness of movement. Kinaesthetic feedback is required to draw, write and engage in motor activities and tasks. Baghban, M (2007) also points out that scribbling development underpins a child’s ability to story tell. Drawing directly creates symbolic cues used for storytelling.  So next time you get handed yet another page of scribble, remember that the chaotic (and lovable) mess of lines is the building block of drawing and writing.

There are 5 stages in the development of art in children as described by Salome and Moore. The first stage is the “scribble stage” characterised by 3 stages of its own. These 3 smaller stages; random scribbling, controlled scribbling and naming of scribbling all occur in children between the ages of two and four. It is at this last stage of scribbling that shifts from mark making in  a purely movement and kinaesthetic manner to a representational endeavor. Children begin to associate their scribbles with things and begin using scribbling and drawing as a way to represent something. The step prior to this is where our dear friend imagination arrives, children start to “see” things in scribbles; making out shapes and forms.

Scribbling stages

So for many a child this all happens pretty naturally. They are lucky enough to be provided with crayons, pencils and paper and given time to scribble, scribble, scribble, imagine, draw and story tell. But what happens when children have unusual experiences? When they do not feel safe to draw or play, or for some reason or another their development goes a little awry? As an art therapist, I have met many children who have complex social and emotional experiences and their imaginative functioning is restricted. Imaginative functioning is important for social skills, developing identity, problem solving and much more.  So what can we do to assist children with poor sense of body movement, emotional skills or imagination? What activities can we do to boost our own and healthy children’s imagination? One answer is we can scribble. The best thing about scribbling is that it not only boosts the imagination but it can also be a way to connect. I use these scribble activities to break the ice, build rapport, have a giggle, get my brains and hands warmed up and connect with others:

  1. Scribble Chasey

Find the largest piece of paper you can (try butchers paper or brown wrapping paper), or a flat piece of sidewalk/path. You need two people for this one. Choose a drawing implement, different colours each (chalk if your using the pavement). One person is “it”. The Chaser follows the it person as they scribble with their own pen or pencil! Try and keep up. Swap roles and play a few rounds!The crazier the scribble gets the harder it is to catch.

  1. Scribble Swap

Scribble swap has to be my most used activity as an art therapist -ever. Yep ever! Again it requires a minimum of two people to play. Have a timer or count to ten and each person freely scribbles on a piece of paper in a single colour. Swap scribbles and you now have to make a picture from the scribble you received.

  1. Mr Squiggle

Who remember Mr Squiggle on the ABC? Draw 2-5 shapes or lines on a piece of paper and swap with another person.  Now get your thinking cap on and use the lines and shapes to make a picture.

There are so many variations of scribble games and activities (Find some more here at the YMC Club). Write a list, design some of your own and try a new one each day. You will soon have favorites and your imagination will thank you.

Scribbling Games

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