It’s true! We teach students how to draw in kindergarten. I’m not sure why that surprises so many people. Drawing is a very important way for students to express themselves. Drawing is also a way for children to communicate. Before they can write words, they can draw pictures. They use their pictures to document important events, show us what they love, how they feel and of course to create something beautiful. So, let’s teach drawing in kindergarten.
Although we encourage free drawing, we also have formal lessons using directed drawing to model and teach students how to look closely at something and draw it. Directed drawing is a step-by-step approach to teach children how to draw. It enhances their ability to listen carefully, pay close attention to details, use descriptive language, and follow directions. Directed drawing is a great way to build confidence and help your children view themselves as artists.
Anyone can teach children how to draw using this method. You don’t have to be an artist. Believe me, I’m not!
Kindergarten Drawing Lesson
Before the Lesson
Prior to teaching the lesson, you need to practice. Since directed drawing is step-by-step, you need to decide what can be drawn in each step. For example, when drawing people or animals I like to start with the head and then the face; each part of the face is a separate step. You also need to decide what you will say when modeling each step. The more descriptive the language, the better the lesson will be. So, practice drawing what you want the children to draw. If you can’t draw it, neither can they!
During the Lesson
Explain to your students that during this drawing lesson they will be expected to LOOK, LISTEN, WATCH, and DESCRIBE, before they DRAW. These are the steps in a directed drawing lesson. Although they will be tempted to look and draw, they need to wait to draw until you, the teacher, tell them to. First, students LOOK at what they are going to draw. It’s so much easier for kids to draw something, if they can look closely at it first. Show students examples (real photographs, drawn pictures) of whatever you are teaching them to draw. Kids need a picture to reference during the drawing lesson. The little artists need to LISTEN as the teacher describes what is being drawn. They WATCH the teacher draw one part of the picture. Students then get to DESCRIBE (hopefully integrating some of the descriptive language the teacher has carefully imbedded in the lesson). Finally, the artists get to DRAW what the teacher has modeled.
When modeling how to draw, make sure your students can see you and what you are drawing clearly. I always had to move my kids around when teaching a directed drawing lesson in kindergarten. Some were on the floor, others were at their tables. Make sure your kids have only what they need and nothing extra. We always drew with a black skinny marker. I had plenty of white out, in case of mistakes. Usually, we could turn the mistake into part of the picture. I also gave kids a practice paper (eyes need extra practice) and a sheet for the actual drawing. Always have your kids practice tricky parts, before they draw them on their picture.
After the Lesson
After we finish drawing, we get to color. I always schedule another time for us to complete the pictures. I teach my students HOW to color these pictures, emphasizing staying in the lines and appropriate color choice (side note: sometimes moms do have blue hair). We use crayons and never markers to color. Adorable details can be inadvertently lost when markers are used.
Directed Drawings for Kids
You can teach your students to draw almost anything, as long as you can draw it. Animals are great and the skills you learn from drawing one animal often transfers to drawing other animals.
Going to the zoo is one of my favorite field trips. I like to go early in the year (usually September). Prior to the field trip, we read lots of books about the animals we were hoping to see. After going to the zoo, I became part of the art center. I taught several lessons on how to draw the animals we saw at the zoo.
Drawing people is also fun. I like to teach my class how to draw people with bodies, as well as portraits. Kids love to draw really important people. And who is more important than mom or dad? A portrait of mom makes a great Mother’s Day gift. Of course, you are going to want to teach your students to do a self-portrait. It’s adorable as the cover of a kindergarten memory book. I’ve had my kids draw themselves as 100-year-old people for their 100th day of school. They’ve also successfully drawn portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Kids want to draw almost anything in the natural world (trees, flowers, mountains, animals). They also want to draw things in the not so natural world (cars, rockets, buildings, monsters). Easy Kids Drawings has a good video for kids (or teachers) to learn how to draw a rocket ship.
Directed drawing is one way of helping students draw. I also encourage my students to draw by having a well-stocked drawing center, complete with lots of different paper, markers, crayons, pencils etc. I’ll add various How to Draw templates and books, along with plenty of pictures for inspiration. Don’t ever forget that drawing in kindergarten should be fun!
You can teach kindergarten children to draw anything that you can draw. After just one drawing lesson, you will see your children become more confident and able to draw so much more on their own. So, start practicing and get ready for lots of drawing in kindergarten.