Drawing Animals with Children

Bears

Winter days can be long and dreary if you don’t find happy ways to pass the time together indoors. When weather is especially inclement, take the opportunity to sit down with your children and draw. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be artistic, your children will most likely be delighted to have you by their side, making art. The impulse to create is so very strong in children. As parents and caregivers, we can nurture their creative impulse by modeling creative behavior.

Materials

  • paper
  • block crayons and stick crayons
  • inspiration photos from books or Internet
  • a story about animals in wintertime, perhaps

Tutorial

Take a little time to play with the crayons. Experiment how you can make different kinds of strokes and lines. Block crayons are beautifully suited for shading, blending, and giving dimension to your pictures.

Donna Simmons, author of Drawing with your Four to Eleven Year Old, says “By pressing firmly or lightly, you can achieve both depth and movement in clouds or sea, for example. Wavering strokes of red, yellow and orange can bring fire to life. Direction of stroke can also emphasize muscling or roundness in animals, depth in caves, or distance of, say, mountains in the background.” Her book holds specific tips for drawing in Kindergarten through Fifth grade Waldorf curriculum.

Inspiration

Picture books or books with lots of inspiring photographs are always nice to have around. We found this fox photo online and drew using it as our example.

Lucas Drawing

Lucas's Fox in the Snow (Age 9)

My 9-year-old’s drawing of the fox in the snow

My Fox in the Snow

My drawing of the fox in the snow

Here are some general drawing tips for children:

  • Avoid outlining.
  • Aim to capture the mood or movement of your subject, not the superfine detail.
  • Young children need not worry about eyes, whiskers, nose, etc.
  • Try to find your subject’s major shapes: where are the circles, ovals, triangles, and rectangles? Use these instead of outlining to avoid adding too much detail too soon.
  • Block out where the figures will fit on the page to help make them large and bold. Some children resist using the whole page.
  • Finish your picture with a decorative border.

Lucas's Owl at Night (Age 9)

My son’s drawing of an owl at night

You may find that you need to lead by example. After story time, try drawing an animal in your story. Or while your child is having free time, try drawing beside him or her. Encourage your child if he or she chooses to draw with you. “I like to be with you like this.”

Avoid saying things that imply a judgment of the child’s work (“good drawing,” “sloppy drawing,” etc.). Instead try to find something that you can comment on that feels neutral. “I wonder if that fox has cold feet.” or “What a fluffy coat it has!” Nor should you say that your own drawing is “bad” or “didn’t turn out right.”

My Chipmunk Drawing

Practice and your own drawings will improve. We are all learning as we go.

Display drawings made by your child. A wooden “card stand” works well for displaying small drawings. A cork board works nicely for larger ones. Refrigerators are a good standby, too, for showcasing family art. And never underestimate the delight a child will feel if you should put his or her artwork in a real frame.

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7 Responses to “Drawing Animals with Children”

  • heathermama
    January 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    wow, really wonderful. thank you. 🙂

    Reply

    • Sara
      January 15, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      You have my humble thanks, Heathermama. Somehow posting this one was scary.

      Reply

  • Valarie Budayr
    January 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Love your fox drawing. Warms my heart !!!

    Reply

    • Sara
      January 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you, Valarie! You have a great and justifiable affinity for foxes. XO

      Reply

  • Bethany
    February 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I’m an all year round co-host and I’ve featured you for our top picks from 100-200!

    http://littlehomeschoolblessings.blogspot.com/2013/02/all-year-round-features.html

    How absolutely beautiful!

    Reply

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  • Dell Wald
    September 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Can I simply just say what a relief to discover a person that actually knows what they’re discussing on the web. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular given that you certainly have the gift.

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

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    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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