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.
- block crayons and stick crayons
- inspiration photos from books or Internet
- a story about animals in wintertime, perhaps
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.
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.
My 9-year-old’s drawing of the 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.
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.”
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.