Often when we think about drawing in the classroom, it is valued as a way of expressing oneself. We tend to shy away from doing direct instruction focused on the crafts of drawing as not to interfere with the “creative self,” but it may be time for change. In the book, Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers, by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe, drawing is valued the same as a written word. Educators spend time helping children to listen for sounds, write letters, and work toward accurate spelling. When valuing drawing to the same degree, educators should give information about how to draw well and help children observe and identify lines and shapes so that they can accurately draw pictures that represent their thinking. As I mentioned in my previous post, we need to first notice what children can do rather than what they need support in. When it comes to writing, answering the question of what students can do is simple. They can tell stories and they can draw!
For young children, drawing is writing because it gives them the opportunity to do what writers do. Drawing allows children to revisit, add details, and go deeper into their stories just as an author would do with written text. Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers, lists nine ways teachers can support young children as they draw.
Create a drawing center filled with interesting things to draw.
Ask children to bring in loved objects from home to draw.
Model drawing the same objects from different perspectives.
Look at children’s drawings and identify a teaching opportunity to improve their drawing craft.
Provide time to draw during writing workshop.
Provide opportunities for children to revisit their drawings and make changes.
Provide opportunities to draw across the curriculum.
Enlist the help of other educators in your school who may be artists.
Allow for and celebrate differences in how children see things.
Supporting children’s drawing helps them learn to see things in more detail. The ability to see in more detail encourages them to represent what they know on paper to the best of their ability. After practicing oral storytelling with your children, get out the drawing materials and have some fun. Remember to begin with the end in mind, not to begin with the end!
Stay with me in this blog series focused on the steps building toward the end goal of children putting their stories on paper.
Giacobbe, M. & Horn, M. (2007). Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers. Stenhouse Publishers.