Drawing activities are a simple and easy way to creatively engage children in your class. Drawing and sketching have many benefits for fostering a child’s development, such as improving hand-eye coordination, honing motor skills, and creating space for imagination and creativity.
Plus, all you need to get started are a few simple supplies that are already in your classroom, like paper and pencils. Even if you aren’t an artist, there are plenty of drawing activities you can easily teach your class with step-by-step instructions. Even if the instructions are just a starting point, they can spark ideas for children to create their own unique artwork.
This article shares some easy drawing ideas to bring into your classroom with minimal supplies and setup.
The benefits of drawing activities for preschoolers
For children, the activities they do in preschool often seem like they’re just for fun. Educators, however, understand that these fun activities are lessons that foster their development. Learning to draw is an important pre-writing skill with the following benefits:
Develops motor skills and coordination
Drawing is simply moving a pen or pencil across a page. Following instructions for what to draw requires additional skill, but simply wielding a utensil helps develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. These are essential skills for learning how to write letters and numbers.
Improves observation skills
Following instructions means children have to pay attention to detail. Drawing with a purpose encourages them to thoroughly observe the example they’re recreating or should be inspired by and what they’re putting on their page. Being able to take in details and utilize them improves their ability to observe.
Boosts problem-solving abilities
Young children may be more familiar with coloring, while drawing is likely a new skill for them. Working to create a certain image means they must create a strategy or method for forming it. As they learn how to transfer an image to the page they are practicing their problem-solving skills.
Fosters imagination and creativity
Even if there are specific directions or certain images that children are trying to draw, they’ll still create something unique. Each child will interpret the directions or the example in their own way. Drawing fosters their imagination and creative development as they design their art.
Easy drawing ideas
Here are a few examples of drawing activities for children that will unlock their inner artist.
Object tracing is one of the most straightforward drawing ideas to engage children because all they need is an everyday object to trace. They can experiment with tracing objects of various shapes and sizes, and it can help younger children practice their fine motor skills as they hold different objects and trace around them.
- Any object to trace. Objects can include shoes, kitchen spatulas, toilet paper cardboard rolls, spoons, forks, or Legos—literally, anything goes!
- Pencils or markers
Place the object onto the paper and trace around it with either pencils or markers. Trace one big item, color it in, or trace multiple items to create a unique design.
Drawing on popsicle sticks
This drawing idea is an easy way to expand creativity using a medium other than paper. You will need craft sticks or tongue depressors and a pack of markers.
Have children draw and color directly on the popsicle sticks and watch the masterpieces come to life. For an added step, grab a glue gun and glue the sticks together to form a sculpture.
Observational drawing is drawing what you see in front of you. Your subject could be a still life of an object, a landscape, or even a person. The goal is to present what you see as realistically and close to form as possible.
This activity is a great way to develop early math skills, such as recognizing size, shape, and proportions. What you will need:
- Eraser (optional)
- Other materials like crayons, colored pencils, or markers
- Object or item to draw
Set up your art materials beside whatever you want to draw. Then, outline the object that you are drawing. Next, observe the object periodically as you draw to ensure you get the shapes and proportions right.
Younger children will mostly focus on the general shape and colors of the objects, while older children will add details like texture and proportions.
When introducing younger children to observational drawing, ask them about the shapes and sizes they see and then guide them on how they can translate that to paper.
For example, if the object is a flower, have the child start with the center shape first and then move on to the other shapes to create the petals. Then they can move on to the stems and leaves until the entire flower is complete.
Drawing prompts using eye stickers
Either white or black paper is fine for this activity. All you have to do is stick the pairs of eyes onto the paper anywhere you prefer. You can then have children draw characters and shapes around them using either white or colored pencils.
Finally, you could write a few words or even a question to stimulate your imagination further. Try this step-by-step tutorial to get started.
Children can turn their doodles into art with just a simple piece of paper and colored markers.
Start by encouraging children to scribble or draw different shapes with a single line using a black marker on a piece of paper. Then they can fill in the various shapes created with colors and patterns. This activity is as easy as it is fun and lends to a quick clean-up.
Hand tracing is a tried and tested method of getting children’s creativity flowing. Place the child's hand flat on a piece of paper and outline its shape with a marker. What is left is a blank canvas that they can fill with colors or patterns.
This is another easy drawing idea with minimal supplies needed. All you need is paper and a marker. Start by writing their name on the piece of paper and have the child draw or color directly on and around the letters.
This activity is bound to keep them occupied for a long time while boosting their creativity. You can also write more words as they think of new ideas with each drawing.
Have your children look in the mirror and examine what they see. Help point out different parts of their bodies such as eyes, nose, head, ears, and neck. Ask them to draw themselves from what they have seen in the mirror. You can mount their masterpieces in the classroom.
Alternative activities that inspire drawing and creativity
While drawing is a meaningful pre-writing skill, some children may need extra help developing skills such as holding a drawing utensil and using it to create an image. Therefore, it can be beneficial to include other types of activities that focus on strengthening the skills needed for drawing. For example, creating with clay is a form of sensory play that can improve a child’s fine motor skills as they roll, mold, or squish the clay. These fine motor skills are essential as children begin to draw. Below are activity ideas that support key skills and spark creativity.
Drawing in shaving cream
Dispense some shaving cream onto a window, let children spread it around, and then draw shapes or characters into it. When the child wants to start over, they can simply spread the shaving cream around again and try something new. You can add watercolor drops to the shaving foam to make the activity more colorful.
Watercolor or finger painting
Allow young children to paint using watercolors or their fingers. They can draw animals, shapes, or even write their names. They can even use other objects to add texture or designs to the drawings, such as forks, combs, or sponges dipped in paint.
Creating with clay
The possibilities are endless when creating with clay. It can be rolled, molded, squished, poked, and punched. Clay can be shaped into anything you want, and this is such a fun way to engage your children. Because of the limitless possibilities offered, it’s a great tool to encourage creativity and imagination and strengthen fine motor skills.
All you need for this activity is string, twine, or yarn and large beads. Pour the beads onto a tray and have children string them onto yarn or twine. This will greatly improve their motor skills and dexterity and will keep them occupied for hours.
Using sidewalk chalk, draw an obstacle course or hopscotch grid for children to play on. Provide different colors of chalk and encourage children to draw any shapes or pictures they like.
How to encourage a child who doesn’t like drawing
Drawing is one of the most important activities your children can participate in, and its benefits are immense. However, if your child is not enthusiastic about drawing, here are a few tips and tricks to encourage them:
- Remind them that you are drawing for fun. Sometimes a lack of enthusiasm is due to insecurity. Ensure them that there is no right or wrong way to draw.
- Focus on the process and not the end product. You can do this through activities like doodling, drawing to music, and concentrating on abstract art.
- Showcase children's artwork on classroom walls. This simple gesture can help increase children's confidence in their ability.
- Use drawing prompts to help reluctant artists out of their shells and engage their imaginations. Many guided drawing items and instructional videos are available to help you get started. Art for Kids Hub on YouTube has hundreds of options for you to choose from.
- Share art activities with families in your daily reports or preschool newsletters as a way to partner together for a strong home-to-school connection.
Preschool drawing activities shape children’s fine motor and hand-eye coordination skills. They also offer self-expression opportunities and sensory play to encourage their development. Drawing can be therapeutic and offers a chance for children to tap into their imaginations and get creative. All you need are a few simple materials and basic instructions to get the creativity flowing.
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