Back Drawing

Countless scientific studies have proven that touch helps regulate stress responses.

Human contact is vital for the facilitation of growth and development. Our cultural space bubble seems to be growing exponentially as people become increasingly disconnected. Teachers are on high alert with touch protocol and are even coached to turn to the side and extend an arm, Heisman Trophy style, if a child were to approach wanting a (gasp) hug!

Back Drawing is a Yoga Calm® activity that offers a safe and easy way to integrate touch into your instruction.

It is important to begin this exercise with the disclaimer, “If you chose not to be touched today, you can sit outside the circle and draw on your own arm or hand”. This allows for students to still participate and obtain kinesthetic input, while operating in their comfort zone. For the first introduction, I had three students opt out. By the end of the week, all were voluntarily participating.

To start, get the students familiar and comfortable with touch by using one finger to explore appropriate pressure. From there, move the finger around the back to spell words and draw pictures. For an extra social-emotional component, try writing compliments at the end of your Move Mindfully® Meeting. I found that it was pin drop quiet. Everyone was fully engaged. Giving and receiving healing touch.

class sitting in back drawing

Once students are comfortable with this activity, you can add in an academic standard. This Polygon Sort helps students identify the characteristics of a polygon.

polygon sort

Polygon Activity

Start with students sitting in a circle, as they are for the back drawing activity. Hand out a card to each student and instruct them to draw the shape on their partner’s back. Their partner guesses- “polygon or not a polygon” and explains why. “It is a closed figure with straight lines” or “It is an open figure with curved lines…” etc.

Students need opportunities and instruction around appropriate touch. If we frame the conversation from the beginning, students will have their physical needs met with socially appropriate input.

students draw polygons on each others back

Have you used back drawing? How did the students respond? Have you tried to teach geometry with partner touch? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

6 replies
  1. Meg
    Meg says:

    I love it! Intentionally teaching appropriate touch is profound!
    hopefully, teaching this, will minimize the girls who continue to draw on each other’s backs during other instruction time. . .

  2. Ali Hodson
    Ali Hodson says:

    I’ve used back drawing with my own kids and students for writing letters. It is so wonderful for the person drawing each letter, intentionally so that the receiver can fell the letter accurately. The receiving person needs to be mindful and present to feel the lines and the formations. Great activity and I love how it is used for geometry!!

  3. Dawn Blankenship
    Dawn Blankenship says:

    I use with kindergartners and they love using it…we practice with weather on their back and we end with drawing a wish for them. I love the idea of using it to do math!

  4. Beth Yokom
    Beth Yokom says:

    This is also a wonderful idea to try with preschoolers – practice writing letters or their name on each other’s back…Thank you for the fun idea!


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