Art With Jenny K.


The Benefits of Directed Drawing for Kids



The benefits of directed drawing for kids are many. Drawing step-by-step (directed drawing) helps children learn to sequence, strategize/plan, and build their confidence. Directed drawing is also fun, engaging students and making art integration easy for teachers.

If you add how great it is when you practice drawing one image repeatedly, you will see why drawing step-by-step is so great for kids!

I’m passionate about children needing art in their education. I’m passionate FOR kids because the reasons are only reasons adults need to embrace—kids are already on board. If you are reading this, I’m guessing you are on board too, but perhaps you have to defend your decisions to integrate art into your classroom to administration.

You can find a free copy of these handouts in my eBook when you join my email list at the bottom of this page. If you are already on my email list (and have my password), you can access my subscriber library HERE.

Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” It’s important that we teach our children that they are artists and that they should not strive to be like us (adults), but rather we should strive to be like them.

The Benefits of Directed Drawing for Kids

Ken Robinson (and others) have said for years that we teach creativity OUT of children. Goodness, let’s not do that! 

One way that we can show children we respect them as artists is to allow them to do their artwork themselves. Allowing children to do the work themselves tells them that you trust them and you believe they CAN do it (and they can!). This builds their trust in adults and starts to fight against children who grow up to say, “I can’t even draw stick figures.” 

Let’s work together not to teach creativity out of our children. Let’s help them hold on to this magical creative side that they are born with!

Importance of Directed Drawing

Sequencing: When children draw using step-by-step instructions or directed drawing, as it’s often called, they learn about sequencing. What happens first, second, third, and so on. This primes their brain for other tasks that require sequencing, such as writing and math.

To support your students with the skill of sequencing, use my “How to Draw a Lion” handout. This step-by-step activity is complex and requires that children think about the steps in the right order. For example, the size of the lion’s face (eyes, nose, etc.) depends on the overall size of the head. If students don’t go in the right sequence, the final proportions might be off, resulting in a drawing they aren’t pleased with.

My free How to Draw a Lion handout is available HERE and included in my free ebook (sign up at the bottom). 

Strategy: When children draw, they follow visual instructions, but they also have to think ahead. Drawing step-by-step is great for teaching children to use strategy and to plan ahead (much like a chess player who has to think a few steps ahead).

For example, in my How to Draw a Pig With Some Bling (free on TPT HERE), if students want to draw a bow tie, they must leave room on their paper to do that. They also have to think of the proportions — if they draw step one too large on their paper, they might run out of room to draw the entire design or add the “bling.”

Confidence: Drawing step by step builds confidence in children. Children love to draw — they are born that way. However, they like to draw things that look how they see them in real life.

This need to draw like real life increases as they get older. However, unless children learn art, they don’t always have the skills to do this (art is a skill that can be learned — it isn’t just a talent — although there are naturally talented people for sure — just like in any discipline).

When you give children a step-by-step handout and support them as they learn to break complex images down into simple shapes, you help them succeed. The success they feel when they create a drawing that looks like the thing they were trying to draw builds their confidence and encourages them to draw more. It also encourages them to take on harder tasks in the future and build on their success.

All good things!

Importance of Directed Drawing

Practice: I always encourage my students to practice drawing. It’s just like any skill — it gets better with practice.

The first time a child shoots a basketball into a hoop, it might not go in. However, if they keep practicing, training their hand-eye coordination, and conditioning their muscles — it will start to go in when they want it to.

The same logic applies to drawing. Children need to work on their hand-eye coordination and condition their fine motor skills to draw. In a world with a lot of technology, the fine muscles in their hands won’t be very strong unless they draw and write with a pencil (often)—unless we develop a new art style that uses only the strengths of our thumbs (kidding).

It’s great to have your students practice and practice and practice any time they get a new drawing assignment. They’ll only get better and better and better!

Before you know it, drawing will be a “slam dunk” for your children — but just like any skill, you have to put in the work!

To that end, I have several directed drawing handouts, videos, and lesson plans in my TPT store to help build your students’ confidence. These resources will help your students draw pigs, dolphins, lions, sea turtles, holiday-themed characters, and more! To check them out, click HERE

I have compiled all of the handouts in my free ebook as well. You can join my email list at the bottom of this page and my ebook will be sent right to your inbox! 

You can give the handout to your students and let them work independently, or you can guide them together as a class. This will greatly depend on the age of your students and how you are using these lessons.

Directed Drawing with Young Children

When I do any directed drawing activity with my students, I like to “sing” the part of the drawing and then let them sing along with me. It’s kind of like “Simon Says”-but for drawing. So, for example, I might say in a singing (silly) voice, “Draw a circle” as I draw the shape of the snout (for my How to draw a Pig lesson). Then the kids would repeat what I just said and sing as they draw their circle.

This works great for little kids because it keeps them on pace with you, and they think you are pretty cool for singing and being silly. I always remind my students that at the end, they can erase and rework any area they don’t love. You can see an example of this technique in my Andy Warhol soup can post. I’m WAY too embarrassed to watch it again, but you can view it and see how I do it. If I can do it, you can do it! You can see that post HERE

Directed Drawing with Older Children

Older students can use my handouts independently—but they like it when you sing to them too. It’s silly and fun, and it’s very effective!  

If you’d like more inspiration from Ken Robinson, you can see his very popular TED talk HERE.

Foldable Fables Drawing Activities on TPT

Directed drawing has a lot of benefits—as I’ve shared in this post. When you use it as a tool for art integration, you will not only have your students’ full attention, but you will also be supporting them developmentally in so many different ways.

Mary Beth from Brain Waves instruction and I have collaborated to combine directed drawing, reading comprehension, and fables all into one amazing activity for kids. This is great for older kids! These art integration activities combine art, reading, thinking, writing, and illustrating into a booklet of related learning activities. I’ve put in the hours to develop these lessons to save you time and provide an original and helpful way to integrate art into your units on fables. My students had lots of fun with these lessons, and I hope yours will too!

directed drawing fables

Each lesson begins by using directed drawing to introduce a character from the fable they are about to read. They will then color the character with patterns based on the answers to their reading comprehension questions. Students will get another chance to practice their directed drawing while they put the character in context by making a final drawing. In doing this, students will explore how art and illustration are used in storytelling. These tasks are designed to help them investigate and reflect on the fable.

After these tasks are complete, students will fold and glue together their booklets. I’ve provided assembly instructions with lots of pictures to make sure the process is as easy as possible for kids to understand. These resources come with a detailed lesson plan and answer key and a few one-page printable posters for your classroom to complement the work you’ll be doing with your students.

I’ve included three levels of differentiation. Each page is discreetly labeled with a shape at the bottom of the page, so your students won’t know they are completing different leveled work. They can each be completed in about 2 hours. I recommend these lessons for grades 3-5. 

      • You can find the lesson for the fable The Four Oxen & The Lion on my TPT store HERE.
      • You can find the lesson for the fable The Tortoise & The Hare on my TPT store HERE.

Thank you for making art with your students and for letting me help! 

Jenny K.

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