Learning to Draw really means learning to look more carefully at your subject. So artists from every time period have used special activities to help people of all ages truly “see” and draw more accurately.
The following activity is a helpful beginning for all ages and where we start with young children. It helps everyone look carefully to identify and draw different types of lines and shapes. With what we might call “Guided Looking,” everyone catches on and begins to draw much more accurately.
“Guided looking” also carries over into academic subjects—helping children learn to distinguish differences in numbers, letters, letter combinations, and words. They’ll also learn to look more carefully at photos and charts that support the text in their books.
- Paper (any type)
- Crayons or markers (so children don’t get bogged down erasing. Also see helpful hints)
- Take the time to read through this lesson first, and I think you’ll enjoy teaching and doing these activities with your young children.
- As you point out various lines and shapes, have children follow along by drawing the lines and shapes on their papers. It’s helpful to have them change colors for different types of lines and shapes.
- There are no mistakes in this process. If they think a line or shape isn’t quite the way they think it should be, that’s actually good—it shows they’re learning to look!
- Encourage children to draw large and use all of their paper, including both sides. If they want to group types of lines or shapes in one area, that’s fine but they don’t have to.
- Spread today’s lesson over several days. Keep each section short and fun. Maybe have them turn some of their lines into funny creations as in the Oodles of Doodles post!
- Do a little review as a warm up before starting a new type of line or shape. Learning to look is a process that takes focus and practice and shouldn’t be rushed!
- I begin the first lesson by explaining God has given each of us 2 amazing parts of our bodies to help us draw: 1st — artist eyes to see and 2nd — artist hands to hold and use pencils, crayons, markers, etc., and when we start a new drawing lesson, I remind children we’re going to first use our artist eyes, then our artist hands!
Drawing Activity: We’ll start with straight lines, and repeat the same process with each new type of line or shape.
Straight Lines–The basic steps
1. Give each child paper and crayons or markers.
2. Point out things around them such as the edge of a table, or window, etc, and ask what kind of line these edges make, which is straight, of course.
3. Next ask children to find and point out more of these straight lines, which may bring up that straight lines can lie down, stand up, or lean, and can be thick or thin. (Introduce the terms horizontal, vertical, and diagonal whenever children seem ready or if it’s already been introduced in their math).
4. If they’re learning letters and numbers ask which of these have straight lines.
5. Have children choose a color and draw all types of straight lines on their papers.
Don’t hurry! Enjoy the process! I love seeing their unique personalities come out as they draw. I often learn their favorite colors, and see if they like to draw large or small, and that some will just do one or two lines or shapes, while others will fill their papers!
Shapes Formed by Straight Lines:
1. Point out that sometimes straight lines turn corners to make zig zags, squares, rectangles, and triangles, etc.—shapes such as windows or the top of a table or the letters and numbers M,N, K, W, 4, etc. and ask children to find some shapes formed by straight lines turning corners.
2. Have children choose a different color and draw shapes formed by straight lines.
1. Point out curved lines, such as the edge of a curtain or leaf, a curve in a design on a magazine cover or on a piece of furniture, a spiral on a sea shell, etc.
2. Ask children to look for curved lines around them and in letters and numbers, such as S, C, 2, 3 etc.
3. Ask children to choose a new color and draw curvy lines on their papers.
Shapes Formed by Curved Lines
1. Show children that curved lines can also form shapes such as circles and ovals, kidney shapes and cloud shapes, etc. This is a good time to point out that sometimes these shapes are colored in, and if very small we often call them dots.
2. Have children find and point out some of these shapes and tell some letters and numbers that have circles and ovals, such as O, P, Q, 6, 9, etc.
3. Ask children to draw shapes formed by curved lines.
Have fun! Over this week complete the basic parts of the lesson. Try going outside to find different types of lines and shapes to draw out there. Have children look for and find different types of lines and shapes in the illustrations of their books as you read to them.
AND next week we’ll use these lines and shapes to draw fun and easy objects and creatures!
PS. Molly wants you to know she uses her nose to explore the world around her so when we go on walks she wants to me to stop sometimes so she can smell the flowers! Then she’s willing to sit quietly while I study a tree or a bird with my eyes!
On Friday I’ll post a drawing lesson for older children, using some techniques that artists have used for a long time to help them look more carefully!