Host an online session or meeting with your group.
Open an image or slide which features an interesting B&W line drawing.
Share your screen so your participants can see the drawing on their computers.
Invite each individual to colour in the drawing using a digital tool.
For those who do not know, describe how and where to find the colouring tool, eg Zoom’s annotate tool.
Allow ample time for your group to colour as much if not all of the drawing.
When ready, record a screenshot of the drawing and then wipe the colouring from the screen.
Reflect as necessary or desired.
Continue with your session.
The video below was recorded at the start of a playmeo member’s only webinar in November 2020 in which a Mandala was used as part of the unofficial start.
How To Play Narrative
With the advent of so many online sessions, especially in regards to the impact of the COVID19 pandemic, this has become one of my favourite, go-to strategies to engage people quickly.
This activity is as much a wonderful unofficial start as it is a fun energiser and peaceful mindfulness activity.
First, you’ll need to embed a digital version of a black & white (B&W) line drawing into your virtual presentation, as if it was pulled from a (children’s) colouring book. You can view a selection of possible line drawings in the Resources tab to get you started.
If you plan on presenting a set of slides, then embed your B&W drawing at the beginning of your presentation. Otherwise, simply share your screen to display the image to your online participants when required.
To illustrate, I have uploaded a sample Webinar Welcome screen in the Resources tab which features a beautiful mandala (and instructions.) For what it’s worth, mandalas have been one of the most successful drawings I have offered to my groups, but honestly, any image will work.
Note, it may be necessary for you to describe how to find and use the ‘Annotate’ tool to make the colouring happen. If you are using Zoom (our preferred video conferencing tool,) direct your group to look for the View Options tab on their screen (once you share your screen) and then look for the Annotate > Draw tab to select their desired tool. Curiously, the colour palette is located under the Format tab.
Invite your group to start colouring as soon as they are ready.
Meanwhile, invite casual banter back and forth as the activity progresses. Sometimes, I invite people to engage with one another via the Chat room to add further options for interaction.
In most cases, depending on the number of participants and their level of interest, you need only engage in this exercise for 5 or so minutes. Be sure to take a screenshot of the finished product, wipe the screen clear and you’re ready to move on.
In the case of longer online sessions, have a few line drawings up your sleeve to share on your screen to offer a series of one or more calming, yet mindful brain breaks.
Practical Leadership Tips
The best types of line drawings are those which offer dozens if not hundreds of open spaces just waiting to be coloured in. Images of one animal with a blank background are not as useful as those with detailed backgrounds of trees, grasses and mountains, etc.
You can learn more about the value of embedding an unofficial start in this article.
There is no shortage of free, blank B&W line drawings ready to be downloaded on the internet. Just enter ‘colouring pages’ or ‘line drawings’ into your favourite search engine and browse. If required, be sure to add any attribution to acknowledge the artist.
playmeo has only ever used Zoom as its preferred video conferencing/meeting platform because it’s widely-known and features the most user-friendly bells & whistles such as annotation (which you need for colouring.) To this end, if you want to use this activity in your online session, you need a software application that will permit some form of annotation.
Note, not every person will choose to participate in the colouring, and that’s okay. Sometimes, this may be because their particular computer set-up does not allow for it, or they would simply prefer to watch the image-rendering appear before their eyes.
You could integrate Mandala as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships even before the program has started.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Having A Growth Mindset
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits of play and creativity on one’s wellbeing.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully control and use the annotate tools to coordinate the virtual colouring may speak to the benefits of mindfulness, but this would be considered a minor attribute of this exercise.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Mandala could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
In-Person Mandala: If your group is gathering in person, distribute a selection of B&W line drawings (printed on sheets of paper) and a bunch of colouring pencils/pens.
Stamps Only: Challenge your group to use only the Stamp tool to ‘colour’ in the drawing. Typically, the selection of stamps on offer will include stars, ticks, smiley faces and circles.
Take a look at the Resources tab to see a variety of blank B&W line drawings ready to use in your next virtual gathering.
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Useful Framing Ideas
I would imagine every one of you will have used pens and pencils when you were younger to colour in drawings. I know my own son spent hours and hours colouring in because it brought him such joy. Today, I’m going to invite you to embrace much of this joy, but without paper and pencils…
Did you know that many health practitioners recommend colouring for adults as a wonderful mindful exercise? Think about it, as you are colouring in, you are very much focused on one thing at a time, which is exactly what mindfulness is all about. Today I plan to bring this to you in a digital format…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this wonderful mindful exercise:
How long did it take you to become proficient at digital colouring?
What were your greatest challenges?
Describe how you were feeling as the activity progressed.
How did you feel as more and more of the drawing was being completed?
What benefits does colouring on a digital device provide?
Did you observe a change in how you felt at the end of the colouring? Why?
The inspiration for Mandala was sourced from my personal experience as a participant in an online course delivered by the wonderful team at Berry Street Education Model. With thanks.