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Drawing is closely connected to writing and literacy development and is an important aspect of child development. When a child draws, they develop hand coordination and prewriting skills that are required for writing. As children try to represent their world and imagination in their drawings, it becomes a method of visual thinking and communication. Moreover, as children explain their drawings they develop their vocabulary and verbal skills. Labeling drawings or writing about them can help practice and improve writing skills. Thus, drawing with preschoolers and providing opportunities to draw can be a great way to promote the development of all these skills.
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Environmental Arrangements that Encourage Drawing
Setting up an art center in one corner of the classroom makes a space that’s ready for art any time of the day. You need a table, chair, easel and a shelf to store art materials. Children should be able to find all the materials they need at the center. The art center also helps to keep the rest of the classroom tidy.
Allotting a space to put up the child’s work in the classroom will encourage the child to draw more, and show it to everyone. In a classroom, you can also have files, folders or drawers for each child to store their old artwork.
Provide a variety of preschooler- friendly drawing materials like thick pencils, markers, jumbo crayons and sidewalk chalk. These materials will make it easier for the child to draw and will encourage them to be creative.
Provide different sized and textured papers for children to experiment drawing techniques.
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Teacher Strategies to Encourage Drawing
Avoid the use of professionally drawn pictures for coloring and art. It is easy and tempting to print out a few pictures from the Internet and ask a child to color them. However, the child may feel hesitant to draw after they have seen and worked with professional drawings. Moreover, such drawings eliminate the necessity to draw and thus inhibit the development of drawing skills.
Talk about the drawing. Ask the child to explain the drawing rather than asking what it is. Ask open-ended questions and encourage the child to tell stories about their drawings. Children often interpret their drawings after they’ve finished drawing them, and they might interpret it as different things on different days.
Allow the child to draw on the floor, table or in any position they feel most comfortable. Some children with poor shoulder stability; prefer to draw with their bellies on the floor.
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Drawing During the Day
Arts and Crafts time: Allot a time for arts and craft during the day at school. This will encourage children to draw regularly. Provide different drawing activities, teach new techniques and make the time interesting for them.
Use notebooks for practicing written vocabulary and letters. Leave blank pages for children to draw and illustrate the words and letters. You can also use drawing as a treat, where for every page of writing they complete, they can do a page of drawing.
Illustrating schedules: Encourage children to draw the next activity on the board in a classroom. This will encourage drawing, and is also an interesting way to transition from one activity to the next.
Illustrating new vocabulary : When you introduce new vocabulary to a child, ask them to illustrate it. This helps the child to develop a better understanding of the word and also improve their drawing skills.
Draw and share time: Here is an idea for drawing with preschoolers. The teacher and child can both make a drawing and then share about it. You can also do this with a group of children sharing their drawings.
Drawing Games: Play simple games that involve, or require drawing. Some examples are a simple version of Pictionary, or drawing something and passing it on to the next person who adds something more to the drawing.
Taking the story forward with drawing: When you tell a story, ask the student to draw something related to the story. Then ask them to explain the drawing. This activity also encourages children to practice the new vocabulary that they learned in the story.
Drawing for crafts and gifts:: Make drawing meaningful for the children by helping them to draw papers that you use for gift wrapping, book covers, greeting cards, etc.
Drawing for science: Make field trips and science observations more interesting by making children draw what they have seen. It’s also a great way to keep track of and remember things that they have learned.
Making books: Put favorite pictures together and bind them to make a book. The child can then easily choose a favorite drawing, and tell a story related to it to also go in the book.
These ideas for drawing with preschoolers will help your students engage in their own learning through the areas of art, writing, and literacy, while having fun in the process.
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Potter, J. (n.d.). Making the Drawing/Literacy Connection. Retrieved from Western Illinois University: http://www.wiu.edu/thecenter/articles/draw1.html
Sheridan, S. R. (n.d.). Scribbling, Drawing, Reading and Writing.Are these skills connected? Retrieved from http://drawingwriting.com/CnnctSkl.pdf