Today, more attention than ever is being focused on early childhood development and the need for young children to have the experiences essential to optimal learning.
As early childhood teachers, we work diligently to design and provide learning activities that not only meet the requirements of the state standards, but also build creativity and 21st century skills. Guided Drawing is one such activity.
In this article, we’ll explore Guided Drawing and the integral role it can play in the physical, emotional, and cognitive development of our children.
What is Guided Drawing?
Guided Drawing is a teacher-led activity that can be easily integrated into the curriculum. During a Guided Drawing lesson, teachers talk students through the drawing of simple objects to create a picture. The object may be a book character, animal, or person. In every case, the guidance is step by step, one piece at a time. After children draw a basic picture, the lesson is then extended by having them discuss it and add details to make it more interesting. The guidance and encouragement of a teacher is essential to a child’s performance of this task.
The child does not need proven artistic skills to succeed at Guided Drawing. They simply need the willingness to be creative and follow directions. It is helpful if they have a firm grip on writing tools such as crayons or pens. Some experimentation with letter forms and sequencing of letters is also valuable.
Encouraging Children to “Express Yourself”
Children learn in many different ways and at many different paces. Younger children may not be ready to express themselves completely through language. They may be unable to write a story about how they feel. But they can draw a happy or sad picture and choose colors that express their moods and emotions. That’s why Guided Drawing is so important. When children feel free to create, each work of art they produce turns into a personal expression of the “artist.”
A Teacher and Student Favorite
There are many reasons to integrate Guided Drawing into the early childhood classroom. Children love it because they are inherently creative and Guided Drawing allows them to find joy in manipulating shapes. It also motivates children to read, builds visual perception and fine motor skills, and sharpens the child’s ability to pay attention, listen, and follow directions. In addition, when students observe the final product, their confidence soars and they feel a sense of accomplishment in their creation.
Teachers appreciate Guided Drawing because it involves no prep, requires 20 minutes or less, allows them to see children in a new way, helps strugglers experience success, and ties in nicely with other subjects. It is the kind of activity that fits just about anywhere in a busy day—before recess, in centers, and when there isn’t enough time to start something new.
The Thrill of Success
There is a high degree of success with Guided Drawing activities, even in a classroom where students have a wide range of skills. Everyone can do it and feel successful. And, their “I can do it” attitude spills over to other subjects and goes a long way toward building a child’s belief that they are, indeed, an “artist.”
For a closer look at Guided Drawing and how to use it to make reading and writing more meaningful and exciting, check out SDE’s webinar Using Guided Drawing to Motivate Young Readers and Writers (Gr. PreK–2) by veteran kindergarten educator and creator of numerous CDs Heidi Butkus.