The words, “I can’t draw,” are more likely to be said by adults because we are focused on the product. The story is quite different for drawing and kids. For children, it’s the process that’s important because drawing is another way to play.
If we think of crayons, markers, chalk, and paper as another kind of toy, then it’s easier to encourage kids to simply have fun. Once we know the walls and floors are safe, we can let children discover what these toys can do and how they can play with them. Drawing can be empowering, because suddenly kids are able to ‘make a mark’ and affect the world around them.
Drawing supports the development of many brain connections and thinking skills. As children draw, they are representing what they see as well as what they imagine. Creating pictures on paper helps visualizing, or making pictures in the mind.
Some adult artists have added an element of fun to encourage more drawing with two challenges. One is called Drawlloween and the other is Inktober. The intention is to check the word for the day on October’s calendar and to draw whatever it is. You can make a calendar with your child. Ask your child what things might be fun to draw. The suggestions do not have to be for Halloween, they can be anything.
Because we had just been looking at some costumes, Big Sister thought of drawing some ghosts. Little Sister asked if she could paint instead. I wondered if the drawings would be invisible like ghosts, but Big Sister used a pen and Little Sister painted one that is blue and pink.
Drawing is not something that we can or can’t do. Like other abilities and talents, some people are better at drawing than others, but we can all draw to some extent. Some children will be more interested than others, but all children can explore with drawing tools and toys. For a play-of-the-day, what would your child like to use for some drawing fun?
This year is the 60th anniversary of Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson. Reading it can inspire some drawing with crayons fun for kids. Harold even drew some fun for adults in an episode of The Simpsons.
Harold and his purple crayon not only draw pictures, they also have adventures, with the crayon drawing out and creating the story. Imagination turns the wiggly lines into ocean waves and a straight line into a path in the woods. A rectangle with a horizontal and a vertical line in the middle becomes a window. Lots of rectangles with crosses makes a tall building with many windows. Even though all the illustrations are purple, in our mind’s eye we can see the other colors too.
Both images and words contribute to the story and encourage the skill of visualizing. To visualize is to create images in the mind from words and sounds. It is a critical skill for reading and helps kids clue into the meaning of what they hear.
We don’t think of visualizing as something we need to practice, but it can be a challenging skill for many. Not only does it help with reading, but the strategy of visualizing is also used in relaxation therapy. It can help reduce anxiety and stress.
When kids draw, we can encourage them to tell us about their pictures. Some possibilities of things to ask or say are:
Tell me about your picture.
Do I see a circle shape?
Are there any people in your pictures?
If kids have three or 4 pictures, you could put them together into a book. It doesn’t need to tell a story like Harold’s. It can be called (Your Child’s Name) and the Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple Crayons. Or, the book might be markers instead of crayons. Will you keep it for 60 years?
Did you know that drawing is a powerful activity for early learning and brain development? Not all kids enjoy drawing but dinosaurs are pretty appealing. Kids–and adults–do not have to be good at it!! It’s a form of PLAY.
When it comes to drawing, it’s very challenging for me. I really appreciate when the drawing is reduced to a set of easy steps. The website Draw with Rich had an amazing dinosaur. Here are the steps that we used, with apologies for the missing photo that shows the arms and the legs. You can see them in the colored picture.
Instead of paper, kids can try this on a chalkboard or an easel with felts or paint.
When kids are drawing and coloring, kids are exercising both muscles and brains. It’s easy to see how children are using the small muscles in their hands, fingers, wrists, and arms. It’s not so easy to see how brains are focusing and paying attention as well as coordinating movements using drawing tools. The brain is making pictures in the mind as the body is making pictures on paper. Making mind-pictures is called visualization and it is an important thinking skill.
Just as we use words and language to communicate, we also use pictures to tell about experiences. Children can draw pictures to share with others. As kids both create and explain about their drawings, they will be using language too, such as the words for colors and shapes, and entire sentences. Adults have figured out that pictures hold meaning, but this is something that kids need to learn. Drawing also stimulates the imagination of children. The dinosaur and egg poster was done by a 5 year old boy and his mom together.
This is just some of the early learning and brain development potential when kids draw. As a reminder, we do not have to be good at drawing in order for it to be fun. Does your child enjoy this kind of play? Do you?