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Doodling: Boosting Vocabulary and Igniting Creativity


Have your students ever gotten in trouble for doodling on their school papers? Or perhaps you've noticed that they seem distracted during class discussions or lectures because they're busy drawing instead of listening to you?

Don't worry, it doesn't mean they're destined for academic failure. In fact, educators now affirm that doodling is a positive activity. So instead of trying to squash the habit, encourage them to take advantage of it to boost their concentration, creativity, and ability to learn—all while improving their drawing skills.

So, what is "Doodling" exactly?

Doodling is a fun and spontaneous way of drawing, sketching, or scribbling. It happens when our minds are busy with other things or when we want to relax. It's like creating art without any specific rules or goals. Doodling is all about the process itself, not the final result. Each person can make their own unique and personal doodles because there are no strict guidelines to follow. You can use repeated lines, shapes, or even write words in different styles. The best part about doodling is that there are no right or wrong ways to do it. It's a flexible and enjoyable way to express your creativity.


And, why should we encourage students to doodle?

Doodling is a valuable way for kids to express their creativity, understand new ideas, stay concentrated, relax, and improve their mental well-being. Scientific studies have shown that doodling helps children feel more at ease and enhances their memory. It's an artistic approach that anyone can use to express their random thoughts visually and reduce stress. Doodling assists children in learning, fostering creative thinking, and effectively communicating their ideas.

According to a report from the Harvard Medical School, it has been observed that many US presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, were avid doodlers. They would often engage in doodling activities, with Ronald Reagan's Cowboy sketches becoming particularly famous.

Some benefits of doodling on learning:

  • Better Focus: Doodling helps students concentrate and pay attention to their lessons.

  • Improved Memory: Doodling helps students remember information more easily.

  • Creative Thinking: Doodling encourages students to come up with new ideas and think creatively.

  • Stress Relief: Doodling can help students relax and reduce feelings of stress.

  • Understanding and Remembering: Doodling helps students understand and remember complex topics by organizing information visually.

Doodling vs. Teaching New Words?

In addition to various other tools and methods, doodling stands out as a wonderful and enjoyable tool for teachers when it comes to teaching new words. Here are some ways to incorporate doodling into the process of teaching vocabulary:

Word Sketching

Ask students to visually represent the new word through doodles or simple drawings. Encourage them to focus on key characteristics or concepts associated with the word. This activity helps students engage with the word on a visual and creative level, making it more memorable.

(Image source: ReadNaturally.com)

Doodle Definitions

Instead of providing standard dictionary definitions, challenge students to create their own definitions through doodles. Ask them to think about how they can visually represent the meaning of the word. This exercise encourages critical thinking and helps students develop a deeper understanding of the word's nuances.

For example: To represent the meaning of "to improve", a student might draw a "before and after" illustration. In the "before" part, they could sketch something that represents a lower or less desirable state, like a frowning face or a student with a low grade. In the "after" part, they could draw an improved version, such as a happy face or a student with a higher grade.

Guess the Doodle

Provide students with a set of doodles representing different words. Their task is to guess the corresponding words based on the doodles. This activity serves as a means for teachers to evaluate students' word memory. Additionally, it fosters visual thinking and encourages students to associate images with vocabulary, ultimately improving their word recognition skills.

Doodle Dialogues

Pair students up and give each pair a set of vocabulary words. Ask them to take turns doodling a word while their partner tries to guess it. This activity promotes collaboration, communication, and reinforces vocabulary acquisition in a playful and interactive manner. If students are not initially familiar with doodling, teachers can engage in this activity with the entire class or individually instead of pairing them up. This approach allows teachers to provide guidance and support to all students, helping them become more comfortable with doodling as a tool for vocabulary learning.

Doodle Vocabulary Walls

Create a class vocabulary wall or poster where students contribute doodles representing different words they have learned. Encourage them to add labels or short descriptions to their doodles. This visual display serves as a reference point and reinforces word retention for the entire class.

Book Recommendation for using Doodling in learning new words!

101 Doodle Definitions is a unique book that helps students remember word meanings better by drawing pictures. It covers 101 common words found in standardized tests. Each word is explained clearly, and there are drawing prompts to help children create their own visual representations. This book is a clever and effective tool for teaching vocabulary to kids. To teachers, this book is a valuable resource to gather more ideas on incorporating doodling into vocabulary instruction.


So, embrace the power of doodling, and watch as your students' vocabulary skills flourish in a fun and unforgettable way. Let the strokes of the pen ignite their imaginations and bring words to life. Together, let's doodle our way to vocabulary mastery!

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