Family Zentangle Fun: Tutorials and Activity Ideas to Get You Started

November 11th, 2014 by Dionna | 12 Comments
Posted in Adults, Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Children, Eclectic Learning, Preschoolers, Teens

Welcome to the November 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Indoor Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared ideas and inspiration to keep families happy and healthy while cooped up indoors.


family zentangle fun

Everywhere I go, it seems someone is talking about or doing a zentangle. Zentangle is a beautiful artform that marries doodling with meditation. A zentangle is an abstruct and unplanned, yet structured drawing; but the best thing about a zentangle is that it doesn’t have to be anything. There is no need to strive for perfection, because it’s the process, the peaceful, meditative doodling, that is important.1 In fact, here’s an article on some of the emotional and psychological benefits of zentangle.

According to the wisdom of the internet, zentangle was the brainchild of a monk and a calligrapher. The only tools you need are a pen (they recommend a fine-tipped Micron pen) and a piece of paper. I’ve seen people use both plain and graph paper.

True zentangle artists have made “rules” for what zentangle should be, and you’re welcome to read about those rules, as well as what the gurus do and do not consider to be “real” zentangles. But for the purposes of this post, I went searching for kid- and family-friendly ideas that you could cuddle up with in the cold of winter (or relax with on a nice blanket in the sun, depending on what hemisphere you’re in). In other words, some of these activities and tutorials may break the “rules,” but I hope that they will be so engaging and relaxing for you and your family, that you’ll forgive this transgression.

Zentangle(-ish) Tutorials

I say “ish” because they’re not all from sanctioned zentangle instructors, but they’re free and close enough for government work!

Zentangle(-esque) Activities

  • Zentangle Leaf Art: These would really up the nature stained glass window game!
  • Zentangle Scratch Art: Create colorful zentangle designs on a black background by making DIY scratch paper. Here are two different tutorials, one from PBS, the other from Early Activities and Projects.
  • Doodle Your Clothes: Create wearable zentangle art, like these pendants, or these shoes.
  • Colorful Aluminum Foil Zentangle Art: A beautiful and easy project with supplies you probably already have at home. Easy Kids Projects & Activities has a post and a YouTube tutorial (made by kids!).
  • Tangled Countries: Grab blank country maps (try Eduplace or World Atlas) and art them up.
  • Building with Slotted Discs: Ok, this one isn’t really zentangle, but it’s reminiscent of zentangle, and it looks like you could totally build and meditate in a similar way! This link also has a free template you can use to print out and create your own discs for building. Awesome!
  • Zentangle Paint Chip Bookmarks: These are gorgeous and practical!
  • Echo and Duplication Drawing: Again, this isn’t technically zentangle, but you could modify it to be more zentangle-like. See these easy echo and duplication drawing tutorials from Teach Kids Art.
  • Zentangle Coloring Pages: Find some pre-made coloring pages online, or create some of your own. Just draw your tangles in black, and let the kids color them in with colored pencils, crayons, or watercolors.
  • Zentangled Rock Art: Use paint pens or Sharpies to beautify some rocks.

Have fun tangling!

Family Zentangle Fun photo modified with permission from Ambersky235 via Flickr Creative Commons.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Congestion Be Gone Shower Vapor Discs — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a fun way to beat the indoor blues while creating something useful at the same time! Come learn how Jennifer and her daughter created congestion relief discs so you too can get creative in the kitchen. It makes a fun science experiment too!
  • Indoor Fun: Dads and Moms Who Listen Prevent Cabin Fever — Laurie Hollman Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence reminds us that even with all the best planning for indoor fun, it’s helpful to have creative tips that forestall daytime upsets and build parent-child bonds.
  • Outside? What’s that?: 13 Boredom Busters for 13 Weeks of Winter — Joining us from rural Ontario, where she is no stranger to massive amounts of snow and frigid temperatures, Leslie at Eat Your Peas shares 13 Boredom Busters to get you through the 13 weeks of winter.
  • Where to get the wiggles out in bad weather — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers indoor places to escape to when kids need to run and shout away from the rain and snow.

  1. For more on what zentangle is, see What is a Zentangle? at, and What is Zentangle? from

12 Responses to:
"Family Zentangle Fun: Tutorials and Activity Ideas to Get You Started"

  1. Marija Smits   MarijaSmits

    This is absolutely wonderful Dionna! As you’ll see from my blog and Facebook page I’m a big fan of Zentangling and my daughter has just now started to give it a go. Some of the ideas/projects you’ve linked to sound wonderful and we’ll definitely be trying them out.

    Oh, if only for another few hours in the day… ;-)

    Many thanks again – I’m bookmarking this page right now!

  2. Dionna, I’d seen these before and thought they looked beautiful but complicated. It’s so wonderful to have the concept re-imagined in a family-friendly way. I’m particularly a fan of marrying it with natural materials and love the link to the Artful Parent. I can see little ones loving an excuse to felt-tip all over some rocks and leaves – and surely the same calm, if not quite meditation, would apply as with an ‘official’ zentangle?

    In a few months I’ll be trying this with my girl, I think; I’ll definitely enjoy it!!!

  3. Laurie Hollman   lauriehollmanph

    Zentangle seems terrific. So glad to be introduced to it for so many age kids. The art work is beautiful and everyone becomes an artist. Thanks.

    Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence

  4. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    I’m relishing how careful you’re being to distance yourself from the unorthodox tutorials. I imagine the zentangle powers-that-be swooping down on your blog with ZentangleGate outrage that you’ve posted unlicensed tutorials. Or that might just be my newborn sleep deprivation at play. ;)

    I for one very much appreciate the family-friendly roundup you’ve done, because I know nothing about actually making zentangles and am quite curious. I’d like to see if my older son would get into it if I started. He wouldn’t follow the rules anyway, so might as well start from that premise!

    Are the pictures ones you’ve made? They’re gorgeous!

    • Thank you for the giggle :) And no, they aren’t my pictures, I totally used the artwork of others from Flickr. But Kieran and I have made some rockin’ tangles!

  5. Kati @ The Best Things   the_bestthings

    I have always wanted to try this. Thanks for all the links and ideas for making this a family project. I love the rock zentagles. Now I want paint pens and gel pens and lots of paper. The drawings on your post are gorgeous!

  6. Those are gorgeous!! I am going to have to check out some of those links and give this a try. Maybe I’ll have my toddler do some scribbles and try to turn those into zentangles.

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