Materials: paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, cookie cutters
Flat stencils can be hard for young children to negotiate. This is in part because they are still developing their bilateral integration. Bilateral integration is the ability to coordinate the use of hands and/or legs to complete a task. There are three types of bilateral integration tasks:
- Symmetrical: meaning both hands or feet are doing the same thing at the time (like clapping or rolling play dough with a rolling pin).
- Reciprocal: meaning the hands or feet are used one after another (like riding a bike)
- Leading & Supporting: meaning different tasks are required of the hands, where one is in a supporting and stabilizing role while the other does the hard task (like cutting with scissors or stringing beads)
Leading and supporting bilateral integration is required for writing: one hand stabilizes the paper while the other writes.
Using stencils can be one fun way to practice bilateral integration. For some kids, having a chunky stencil to hold onto makes it a little easier because it gets the stabilizing hand out of the way. You don't need to run out and buy all new stencils, simply look to your kitchen: cookie cutters can double as stencils.
Set up a table with a variety of cookie cutters, writing utensils, and paper and invite kids to explore. Using stencils can add a new dimension to any process art project.
- Use the cookie cutters at a chalk board or white board
- For younger kids you will need to help them stabilize the cookie cutter
- Pique kids interest in using the cookie cutters by modeling how to use them and what you can do once you've traced the shapes ("Look I turned this heart into a heart monster!")