A friend recently asked for some tips to help her kiddo who is just not that into drawing.
Y’all know that I’m ALL FOR open-ended art processes, but sometimes drawing can be a bit too open-ended for little ones.
A piece of blank paper can be a mighty confronting thing. Couple that with “What do you want to draw?’ and the process can be intimidating and overwhelming for a mini artist.
Here are my tips to encourage a child reluctant to draw.
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Model positive talk around drawing
Carve out some time where you can experiment with some of the ideas listed below, side by side.
As you draw together, be sure to use positive talk as you model out loud your own thought processes.
Actual exchange that happened between my 5-year-old and I on the weekend: “Awesome unicorn, mum!” “Thanks, love. I actually wasn’t sure how it would turn out as I don’t feel very confident about drawing horses. But I just had a go anyway.” Notice that I didn’t declare “I’m not good at drawing!”
In all honesty, I really don’t feel like I’m any good at drawing but I would never say that in front of my kids.
It’s not about being good at it. It’s about having a go.
Similarly we have a ban on the word “perfect” in our house.
That takes a lot of the pressure off when we are creating, as we aren’t aiming for perfection.
Back and forth game
Take the pressure off and re-frame drawing as “mark making.”
Invite your child to sit down alongside you to build a masterpiece together. “I’m going to put a mark here. Your turn.”
Pass the paper back and forth.
The key is to emphasise the wonder and chance to experiment.
Your art may turn into something life-like. Or it may be an excellent abstract piece of art.
Either way, the teacher in me gets super excited at all the language possibilities here.
You can describe the lines and shapes that are appearing. You can ask your little artist to describe what is happening in the drawing.
Inspect a picture book
Picture books are always my Go-To for inspiration.
Another way to encourage your reluctant kid to draw, is to pull out some picture books and inspect the illustration.
Choose books with dense, detailed illustrations.
Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon is a book that springs to my mind.
Ask your child to examine the kinds of lines the illustrator has used. Are they straight? Curved? Zig zags?
Invite your kid to experiment with placing similar lines of a page and see what happens.
On the topic of picture books, I highly recommend the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds for a child reluctant to draw.
It is based on the premise of starting with a dot and seeing what happens….
Play Mr Squiggle
Only Aussies may get this cultural reference.
When I was a kid, an afternoon TV show that we used to regularly watch was Mr Squiggle.
He was a puppet with a pencil for a nose. As you do.
Mr Squiggle would be given pieces of card with random squiggles and shapes on the page.
He would then turn those lines and squiggles into a picture.
It was seriously riveting TV and the fun was in the anticipation of the reveal.
This is our favourite game to play when we are eating out and waiting for our coffee to arrive.
It’s playful, low pressure, imaginative and demonstrates the power of making something from nothing.
Family journal time
Carving time to create as a family can be hard. But it is oh-so-worth-it.
Buy each family member a notebook and set aside time to draw together.
We pull out our art journals and draw together at the dining table maybe every 4 weeks.
What is it about kids and a dice?
I’m working on this theory that you add a dice to anything and it ups the fun factor by about 3000%.
Introduce a dice and see whether it encourages kids drawing.
Assign a shape or line or prompt to each number.
Roll the dice and draw the shape/ line/ prompt that corresponds to the number rolled.
Take it outside
You know those journals you bought after I suggested it above? 😉
Pack them in the bag and take them with you to the park or on a walk.
Be inspired by the forms of nature, try a little still life and draw what you see.
Accessible materials that are fun
Drawing doesn’t have to be about pencils and crayons.
Ever seen how much a kiddo LOVES a whiteboard and the chance to use a whiteboard marker?
How about some chalk on the fence or driveway?
Or introduce a clipboard.
Invite your artist to experiment with different materials. And make those materials accessible so that your little artist has power in the process.
Ban the eraser
I try my best to ban erasers in the classroom. Same applies at home.
Mistakes are to be celebrated. What did we learn from that mistake? How can we turn that mistake into something else?
Banning erasers also promotes creative risk-taking. Should I put this mark here? What will we happen if it doesn’t work out the way I want? Oh well- let’s find out shall we?
You can lead a horse to water but….
Similarly, you can lead a child to the pencil and paper but you can’t make them draw.
You can provide the materials. You can invite them to make marks.
But some kids just aren’t that into it.
Your little person could be like my little guy.
It was hard to entice him into drawing but he got there in the end.
It’s still probably not his creative activity of choice, but he is no longer averse to it.
Kiddy drawings are one of my favourite things. Tag me on social media @ohcreativeday if you try any of these ideas.
Looking for some simple Easter hat ideas?
I have 4 for you that make use of the simple old paper cup.
Miss 5 is currently designing and making her hat for her first ever Easter hat parade at school.
I had to “gently” convince her that maybe she should rethink her idea about basing it around Christmas trees.
Do your kiddo’s school hold an Easter hat parade?
I’m always looking for ways to repurpose kiddy artwork.
We made these flowers from painted paper for my sister’s Baby Shower.
I first posted about them over on Red Ted’s blog.
We still have bouquets of them all over the house.
The first step for all these Easter hats involves painting the paper cup in a colour of your choice.
Punch a hole on either side of the hat. String through some yarn and this is how you will hold your hat in place.
Miss 5 also determined that we should pull her hair into a bun so that the hat can sit snugly over the bun. The kid is a genius.
For the flower tower, we glued some of our paper flowers to craft sticks.
We then used hot glue to fix these flowers to the back of the hat. (ADULT SUPERVISION, YO!)
Secure with tape if you feel it needs it. Cover these sticks and tape with more painted paper flowers. Glue painted flowers around the hat. Voila! Doneskis.
We posted about our Eric Carle-inspired eggs here.
We hot glued one to the base of the paper cup. Then use toothpicks to connect the eggs into a tower.
It’s a Leaning Tower of Eggs!
READ: Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle CREATE: Colourful seahorses with watercolour markers on aluminium foil
This Mister Seahorse art project uses a simple process that blew us away with the results.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
Paper – we used photo paper. Watercolour paper would also work nicely. You could use any paper but photo or watercolour papers really up the vibrance!
Seahorse template – download below
Use washable markers to draw on the non-shiny side of the aluminium foil in big blocks of colour.
Spray a light mist of water across the colour.
Press photo paper down onto colours. Peel away the paper to reveal your design.
Photo and watercolour papers are excellent for absorbing colours. You can absolutely use any kind of paper but results will vary.
Play with how you place the colours on the foil.
If your foil bunches up, this causes little rivers of colour that creates an interesting effect.
Is it okay to Eric Carle ALL THE THINGS?*
That’s a rhetorical question. Yes. Yes it is.
This egg decorating idea is inspired by the technique Eric Carle uses to illustrate his iconic picture books.
*2019 is the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and also Mr Carle’s 90th birthday.
I feel like it is the perfect year to be Carle-ifying everything. #youhavebeenwarned
Want to try egg decorating inspired by Eric Carle?
Here’s what you will need:
A variety of painting implements
Eric Carle paints tissue paper which he then collages with to create his illustrations.
We are no strangers to this process- you can check out our painted tissue paper art here.
In that project, we painted big sheets of tissue paper.
For this project, we scaled down.
We painted smaller rectangles and squares of tissue paper- a much more manageable process!
Tape your tissue paper to cardboard scraps for a DIY easel. The paint will bleed through the tissue paper.
Tissue paper is obviously quite delicate.
This is a great exercise for mini artists to experiment with mark making and pressure. Too much paint, too much pressure and the paper will tear.
Decide on your paint colours and provide your little artists with different painting implements.
As you apply paint, you need to keep gently lifting your tissue paper up off the cardboard to prevent it sticking.
Pull out all your Eric Carle books and pore over his illustrations.
A great prompt to use with the kids is: “How do you think Eric Carle made those marks?”
If you’re looking for a cool effect, pull out the bubble wrap!
Slather some paint onto the bubble wrap and then place your tissue paper on top. Press lightly, lift and voila!
If you have a bit of paint overload happening, simply lay another piece of tissue paper on top of your design.
It’s a simple printmaking exercise that quickly increases the sheets of painted tissue paper that you have. (And trust me, you’ll want loads of the stuff!)
Once your tissue paper is all dried, here comes my favourite part!
Tear the paper into little strips, ready for collage.
Then you simply cover your foam eggs with your tissue paper pieces.
A thin layer of glue will keep corners down- just keep gently pressing down as you glue your tissue paper around the egg.
This step can get messy, so keep a wet towel nearby for your fingers.
You can use any craft glue. We were recently sent some Bostik products to trial. This is not a sponsored post!
I’m wondering how I survived this long without the Bostik Fine and Wide glue stick in my life.
It has two applicators for ease of use, a non-drip pen applicator that flows in a fine clean line as well as a spreader, for larger applications. It made the collage process super speedy.
Once your foam eggs have dried, decide what you are going to do with them.
You could use them as a table display. Or turn them into a mobile. (My sleep-deprived brain just couldn’t quite figure that one out today. But I’m sure you’ll have better luck!)
We decided to turn them into a door wreath. Because our postman deserves some Eric Carle Easter in his life too.
I simply used the hot glue gun on the eggs to affix them to an embroidery hoop. Simple!
Initially I titled this post “Spring Flower Art for Preschoolers.”
But I felt that could be a bit limiting. I suspect that kids of all ages will dig the processes used in this Spring flower art project.
To create your own Spring Flower Art, you will need:
A large sheet of white paper (we used watercolour paper.)
Squares of crepe paper
Black felt tip pen
PVA glue or Mod Podge
Cut your tissue paper into a rectangle (or whatever shape you so desire really!)
Use a felt tip pen to draw a flower onto the tissue paper. We used some illustrations as a visual prompt.
This step is a great way to use vocabulary around shape and line.
I adore that my 5-year-old personalised her flowers by adding faces.
Flowers with faces are my new favourite thing.
Set your tissue paper flower drawings aside.
Grab your large sheet of white paper. Watercolour paper is not compulsory- but it does trap the bleeding colour the best.
Cover your sheet of white paper in squares of coloured crepe paper.
Use words like “overlap” and “white space” here.
Once your mini artist is happy with their crepe paper job, unleash the spray bottles.
Have your mini artist apply a light mist of water across the crepe paper.
Watch the colours in the crepe paper bleed!
There will of course be a lot of “experimenting” at this stage. Younger artists will love just using the spray bottle.
You may end up with colourful rivers that end up brown or black. But hello, teachable moment!
Give the wet crepe paper a light tap to press it down to the white paper.
Start peeling back the wet crepe paper to reveal an awesome colourful effect.
Set your colourful masterpiece aside to dry.
Once dried, use the PVA glue (or any white craft glue) to affix the tissue paper flower drawing over the top of your crepe paper painting. Lightly seal the tissue paper by painting glue over the top of it as well.
The tissue paper will go slightly translucent so you can see the painting underneath peeking through.
If you want to display your Spring flower art, punch two holes in the top corners. Go on a nature walk and collect a suitable stick. String some yarn through the holes and hang your artwork from the stick.
READ: A book that explores music CREATE:A musical painting
Bear tears up the dance floor with his repertoire of dance moves.
He can foxtrot. Quickstep. Hula. Belly dance.
This is such a rollicking good read, and Bear would give John Travolta a run for his Saturday Night Fever money.
As soon as I flipped through it, I knew that we would extend our reading of the book through musical painting.
What we used when painting to music:
A watercolour palette
Watercolour paper You could substitute the above with whatever materials you have on hand-
markers, crayons, newspaper, butchers paper
A Spotify playlist containing songs from the different musical genres in Bear Moves. E.g- quickstep, foxtrot, hula
Tips for painting to music with kids:
Have your materials organised and set up.
Our playlist was organised in the order of the musical genres explored in Bear Moves. So we flipped through the book as the songs changed.