a peek inside the fishbowl

23 Jul, 2015

Summer fun idea #3 – the Zen of doodling (ideal for a rainy day!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy

Zen tangle!


Are you a doodler? If so, you know that it can be can be an oddly satisfying occupation. Doodling is a great way to still the mind and channel one’s focus. And it’s good for kids too.

Traditional doodling tends to be done out of boredom in the margins of notebooks and during conference calls (admit it, we’ve all done it!) whereas zentangle is a term that has been given to a style of purposeful doodling of patterns of repeating images.

The reason this kind of doodling is referred to as a Zentangle is that it is widely considered to be a form of artistic meditation. While creating a Zentangle, the person who holds the pencil is deliberately choosing to make a series of very specific and detailed patterns (a.k.a. tangles) that can be viewed from all four sides. Zentangle is all about the process, not necessarily the outcome.

Often referred to as “yoga for the brain,” elementary school teachers have noted that focused doodling is a great way to calm down a chaotic classroom and get kids focused on a creative task that results in a great sense of accomplishment.

Since Zentangles do not represent actual objects or figures, they’re great little art projects for those who don’t think they’re very good at drawing or have never really drawn anything before. They can be as simple or as complex as you’d like them to be.

Ready to try your own Zentangle?  All you need is a pen or pencil, and a piece of paper that won’t bleed through. Here’s a tip: smaller paper is less intimidating to fill. It might be a good idea to move up to bigger sizes later.

1) Relax, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and put pencil to paper. Begin by drawing an empty container, such as a circle or a loose square with soft angles.

2) Continue by dividing up your shape into smaller, organic segments.

3) Fill in the smaller parts with even smaller repeating shapes such as lines, squiggles, circles, diamonds, petals. Anything goes!

There is no wrong way to draw Zentangle-inspired art. Some art teachers don’t even allow erasers. There are no mistakes, only new directions!

Looking for inspiration? Or a good starting point? There is a huge community of Zentanglers online.

A version of this article was originally published in Capital Parent Newspaper.

1 Response to "Summer fun idea #3 – the Zen of doodling (ideal for a rainy day!)"

1 | Claudette (@WriterOfWords91)

July 23rd, 2015 at 9:50 am


I’ve been colouring, first in Sonja’s colouring books and as she gets older and her colouring or drawing more advanced, in ‘older kids’ colouring books. We draw too…but I find colouring a very de-stressing activity.

Doodling however could be just as fun…maybe I should try that too. The whole ‘black marker on white paper’ idea that allows the colouring in afterwards… hm…


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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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