On my last birthday, I received a wonderful book from my friend Ray. It wasn't a typical book that you read but a beautiful "colouring" book called Happiness, Colour Yourself Calm. The book contains blank pages of lovely mandalas (see one of my finished creations below).
Just to be clear, it isn't a colouring book for kids but a colouring book for adults! Perhaps you think this is odd but did you know that the New York Times has recognized a growing trend in the sale of adult coloring books? It seems that more and more adult colouring books are appearing on their best seller list.
I haven't "coloured" for a while, but when I feel like my heading is swimming and I can't concentrate on what I am doing any longer, I sit in my comfy chair, grab my pencil case and colour. It may seem strange but colouring for me is extremely relaxing. My breathing slows down and a sense of calmness washes over me. It is a wonderful feeling (and backed by neuroscience). When you colour, your cerebral cortex goes on auto-pilot causing your brain waves to change. This is what creates the feeling of relaxation.
Margie Meachan, a specialist in neuroscience recently wrote a blog post on this topic and inspired me to think about colouring with our adult English language learners (sign up for her monthly newsletter - it is one of my favourite blogs to read each month) https://learningtogo.info/2017/01/19/break-out-the-crayons-your-brain-needs-to-color/
Here are two more benefits of colouring from Meachan's blog:
1. Because your brain is much better at assimilating information in visual form than any other, colouring books can also be a great way to learn processes or complex connections between diverse concepts or events.
2. By colouring in the sketch on the page, your brain is forced to notice the structure of the image and make decisions about which colours to use for each component. These decisions allow you to make neural connections between different items on the page without even noticing those connections on a conscious level.
If you are thinking about having your adult language learners colour in your classroom, you don’t have to use an entire colouring book. For example, you could use individual sheets which might be ideal for quiet reflection activities or perhaps for learning specific vocabulary. One of the teachers who I currently work with has her literacy students colour worksheets quite often.
If you are looking for some free adult colouring resources, here are two links but there are a lot more on the Internet:
http://www.coloring-pages-adults.com/ (This website has more than 1,300 free adult coloring pages on various themes and levels of difficulty)
As Meachan says "the room tends to get very quiet while people are intent on coloring, which can make it a great time for participants to step back from the content, giving the brain time to assimilate new information with existing information and encode it for future use".
If you would like to learn more about adult colouring, have a read http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/
I would love to hear from you if your adult students colour in your language classroom. If so, please share your experience and some of your activities.
Happy teaching! Patrice
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., TESL and I reside in Canada. I have 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Curriculum Writer in Canada including 7 amazing years in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I now work as a teacherpreneur http://www.teacherpreneur.ca doing the things that I love such as writing courses, blogging, sharing teaching materials, and instructional coaching for new teachers. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct short-term training around the world at any time of the year. Download free ESL/EFL teaching resources at http://www.patricepalmer.ca
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