Directed Draw for kids can be so much more than a 10-minute filler activity that you do once and a while when you want to squeeze a bit of art into the day.
Why First Grade Drawing is Important
I began designing simple directed drawings that young students could follow independently and feel successful at. As teachers, we are so busy, and I wanted to create ways that more students could have the opportunity to learn to draw many different things. It is so much fun to draw seahorses, sharks, and the lifecycle of a jellyfish! (Jellyfish have an incredible life cycle).
Boost Confidence with Directed Drawings
As students draw new things they build their confidence and see that they are capable artists. They also learn so much about the topic they are drawing as it provides the opportunity for careful observation. Through observation, they learn to identify simple shapes or lines within the drawing. Students discover how to break images down into smaller actionable steps. They experiment with adding their details and changing the images. I have had a blast creating simple easy directed drawings for young learners. If you are interested in checking them out I included links below. Click on the image titles!
Directed Drawing for First Grade
Transform How to Draw Step by Step Pictures into an Art Masterpiece
I have had art projects that were not scaffolded well and resulted in rushed drawings on scraps of paper that then had no purpose or place to go. These drawings weren’t a meaningful part of our day but rather a quick way to fill some time. Because they were sometimes done spontaneously the drawings often didn’t fit our theme of study, I wasn’t concerned if students finished them, and as a result, students gave their work a similar lack of attention.
I love seeing children’s artwork when it is done mindfully. With a few simple strategies, a directed drawing lesson can go from a quick unfinished sketch on a piece of paper to a beautifully finished piece, a 3D project, or a collection of beautiful sketches documenting progress through collected images over time.
Directed drawings are an accessible way to bring art into the classroom. Drawing requires few supplies, quick cleanup, and the possibility to apply it to various topics of study are endless!
A Room full of Children’s Art is Magical
A room full of children’s artwork is so heartwarming and wonderful. There are so many ways to use directed drawing in the classroom, and I wanted to share some of the ways that I have used them. I have also included some ideas that others have shared with me over the past few years.
5 Creative Ways to Use Directed Draw for kids
1. Directed Draw as a First Grade Art Project
Perhaps the most obvious way to incorporate directed drawings into your classroom would be during art time. This can be a great time to focus on the explicit teaching of drawing stills. Students can benefit from hearing your voice as you talk them through each step. Hearing your voice talk about what you see and what you change can help them see that drawing takes observation and several tries at times. For more information on the narrative see the blog post: Why Directed Drawing for First Grade is so Important
The final project can be as simple as a drawing on a paper with a white background or allowing students to add what they like behind their picture. For drawing pieces to stand out if you are putting them in the hallway here is a simple formula that works every time!
- Have students trace over their finished drawing with a black marker. Make sure to use a sharpie or another permanent marker if you are going to paint them later.
- Then have students color in their image with pencil crayons, wax crayons, or paint.
- Directed draw for kids can also be easily transformed by having students cut out their picture and paste it onto a simple painted background. Backgrounds can be simple, such as stripes of bold colors, or printmaking with bubble wrap. In our classroom, we love using bubble wrap to make textures. Using bits of paper scraps you can make a textured collage background.
2. Journal Writing for First Grade with Directed Drawings
When I taught First Grade we used our directed drawings during journal writing each day.
- First, we would read a story or watch a short video to observe the animal or topic we were going to write about.
- We would learn vocabulary that they could incorporate into their work.
- Next, students worked independently on following the drawing steps.
- Lastly, before coloring, we would observe photographs (either printed or on the screen) of the real object. That way students could see that the petals of the sunflower were not just one shade of yellow but a mixture. We talked about where the flower was light and dark and what other details were observed on the petals.
For a great activity for you to become comfortable mixing colors with pencil crayon there is a great blog post: How to Make Any Color From 12 Colored Pencils. It comes with a free printable that you can use to practice mixing colors. This activity could also be done with students.
Students were always super excited to see what they would be drawing each day. It was like a surprise, and they were proud to show off their work to their friends.
3. How to Draw Step by Step Pictures as Early Finisher Activity
Some teachers have told me that they use how to draw step by step pictures as an “early finisher” station. They set up a table with the visual instructions, paper, and photographs of the objects for reference. Students can go there and practice following directions and drawing while others finish up work. These drawings look great when collected and made into a booklet so that students can see their progress and create a fun collection of all the things they learned how to draw.
Directed Drawings for Kids Challenge Wall
In my classroom, I would post directed drawings on a early finisher wall, along with articles on whatever topic our class was studying. Students were welcome to select from a variety of drawings. They wrote stories or facts beside their drawing. The finished work was added to the rest of their work on that theme. I tried to switch up the images once every 2 weeks so students could expand their knowledge and find a new drawing opportunity!
4. Quiet time
In our class, right after recess, we have a special time designated for quiet drawing. I play classical music, and students have 20 minutes to recharge after their playtime outside. Additionally, this also provided me time to check in with students who may have had conflicts during recess.
Drawing Brings Happiness
Some studies show that participating in 20 minutes of drawing/art can boost positive feelings. There is a short article on art and happiness. My students love their drawing time and express disappointment if they cannot have it one day, due to another event that has interrupted our schedule.
While I write this I am convincing myself that I think I need to learn how to create this time for myself at home! Please let me know if you have started this practice for yourself and how it went!
5. How to Make a Diorama Shoebox from Directed Drawings for Kids
One recent way I have begun playing with how to use directed drawings is in the making of dioramas! In our classroom, we raised salmon that we then released into the wild. This year students drew the lifecycle of a salmon by following directed drawing steps and then coloring and cutting out their mini images to make a diorama.
Students collaged and painted the background and then suspended their fish on little strings that they taped to the ceiling of the box. They turned out super cute! You can check out a photo here: Salmon Life Cycle Diorama. I included smaller starter images make it easy for teachers to make mini drawings with their classes. Mini drawing options are in all of the life cycle products and the space directed drawing pack too!
A great blog post to see how to organize and learn about basic collage techniques is:
Introducing Collage to Young Children
Other Fun Directed Draw Ideas:
Other ways that teachers have mentioned that they have used them:
- Use How to Draw Step by Step Animals after a trip to the zoo or aquarium
- Decorating their lockers with Halloween Directed Drawings
- Decorating the classroom doors
- Making Father’s Day or Mother’s Day Cards
- Drawing bats after reading Charlotte’s Web
Make Directed Draw for kids Easy
I began making directed draw for kids like myself, who struggled to figure out how to draw. It has been a fun and rewarding experience watching young artists become confident in their abilities. They prove to themselves that they have the skills to draw. There are so many wonderful resources out there that teach students how to draw. We often use YouTube tutorials for drawing instruction.
Give Students the First Drawing Step
I created directed drawings for kids that provide the first step already done for students; the initial step helps them with scaling their image and having a reference to then follow the rest of the steps with success. With the first step done eliminates the fear of staring at a perfect blank canvas.
Directed Drawing Variety
It is great for students to have the opportunity to try drawings from many different artists. When doing a whole class drawing activity, videos can be great and easy!
Printable Directed Draw for Kids
For days when you want to allow students to observe the steps independently and work at their own pace, or to have them work independently while you work one on one with a small group of students it’s helpful to have printable instructions.
Check out my directed drawings click the link below. I’m most excited about my life cycle directed drawings because they are new and so much fun to do with students.
The great thing about Directed draw for kids is that it provides students with many opportunities to draw. Through drawing, students prove to themselves that they can draw anything!