One Sunflower

These drawings seem pretty “sophisticated” to me.(see Owl Babies)

on February 4, 2010

I agree. I work really hard to help my students be successful illustrators. I’ve found that if their pictures are recognizable, my students are more engaged in the writing that their illustrations support.

One of my projects this year, has been to catalog the process and progress that my students have made in drawing.   I’m still synthesizing our work together and evaluating the various activities and lessons I’ve done with them over the course of the year.  I want to create a sort of pacing guide for preschool illustrators! Of course drawing isn’t something that happens in a linear fashion but I have found that teaching certain skills at opportune times seems to support their budding abilities.

We began the year with a heavy emphasis on drawing people – heads and bodies, not just heads with arms and legs coming out of them!  We also spent a lot of time on showing expression.  I showed the kids some simple tricks to make a face look like it is sad, angry, surprised, scared. 

I try to show the students how to use shapes to draw – people, houses, cars, trees, cats and dogs.   Ed Emberley’s books are wonderful for breaking everything down into shapes – I simplify things a bit more for preschoolers.  My goal is that they are truly successful in their attempts so I demonstrate, do some hand over hand, add a small detail to their work to bring it together.  (Maestra needs confidence building too, so she participates in the demonstration as well!)

And that is why white boards are my favorite medium and so crucial to this work! I can draw the head of an owl and ask the students to copy my work.  If their lines are wobbly or out of proportion, we erase and start over.  I also try to start with the part of the animal that has the features that make it look like that animal – in the owl – it was the head and those big eyes, the beak and little ears.  I showed them the “trick” of wavy lines for feathers. (see previous entry)  We did another project printing with ink and drawing details with pencil:


We made foxes today.  Ed Emberley taught me to make a triangle in a circle to make a fox face.  The kids needed help getting the triangle in the circle but once it was there – they took off on all the other features common to foxes – pointy ears, 4 legs, swooping tail. 

Helping the kids pay attention to physical characteristics that are easy to draw seems to make them pay attention to characteristics in general.  After a few runs drawing things I’ve demonstrated, they take off on their own to illustrate other creatures they are fascinated with – dinosaurs, wolves, lions, elephants.

I’ve put together a Power Point for my colleagues that shows the various levels of “student work” from a level 1 that has no identifiable elements on up to a level 5 with story elements and writing.  My next project will be to catalog and illustrate with student work a progression of intervention strategies to support students developing skills in this work.


2 responses to “These drawings seem pretty “sophisticated” to me.(see Owl Babies)

  1. Blue Like Jazz says:

    Onesunflower, Any chance that I could get a copy of your powerpoint? Have you shared this work with your K colleagues? The connection of “art” to the development of writing skills is profound because “art” is really a special way of telling a story or communicating an idea or a feeling. Sometimes “art” of all kinds (music too) expresses what may be difficult for words to say…othertimes…not-so-much.

    • onesunflower says:

      In response to your question about sharing work with my K colleagues – as you know, I rub shoulders with my primary colleagues off and on throughout the week — in the hallway, work room and at our book study — but we all tend to work in our own little bubbles.
      Other opportunities for exploring our alignment are happening – our “cycle of inquiry” sessions during staff meetings, our meetings with David Matteson, and the literacy work that the whole district is doing.
      Right now it feels like we are working on a complex jigsaw puzzle. Some of us are working on the edges, some on the sky and some are putting all the red pieces in a pile. At some point, I imagine it will be a natural step to start putting it together – a writing continuum from 3-8.
      However, (because bubbles like to just float around in space….) there will probably need to be – A PLANNED MEETING – to do that!

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