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Childrens Drawings


jaime
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Having worked in a nursery fror many years with different teachers, I have noticed thay all have had very different views when it comes to children's drawings.

Some believe we should direst the children when they are drawing, so they gain a recognisable outcome and others allow the children to freely draw and have a picture only they recognise.

what view should i follow? at present i believe in a bit of both.

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Hi Jaime -

Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting! :D

What's your own position in the nursery? I'm not experienced in art theory myself, but I bet Kate and others will have something to say in the matter. Think I'll leave it to them to comment here...

 

Welcome again - Regards, Steve.

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Having worked in a nursery fror many years with different teachers, I have noticed thay all have had very different views when it comes to children's drawings.

Some believe we should direst the children when they are drawing, so they gain a recognisable outcome and others allow the children to freely draw and have a picture only they recognise.

what view should i follow? at present i believe in a bit of both.

Dear Jaime

I love to see childrens artwork in any shape or form - I always find that as they develop and they are able to talk about their pictures and what's happening then at this stage its a good idea to talk about their drawings in a constructive, positive and suggestive way - sometimes they take this on board - sometimes they don't. I've had a spider with ten legs - that's because it's grown up! :) There was no way he wanted to put in eight and had great pleasure in counting them all out - surely he has learnt just as much from the counting than the fact that spiders have eight legs!

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Hi Jaime -

Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting! :D

What's your own position in the nursery? I'm not experienced in art theory myself, but I bet Kate and others will have something to say in the matter. Think I'll leave it to them to comment here...

 

Welcome again - Regards, Steve.

Hello Steve,

At present i am a nursery nurse in the nursery but as from september i will be the nursery leader., its a state nursery.

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Hello therre

I think it all depends very much on what you want the children to produce as a result of the task you have set, if indeed there has been one. There is a distinct difference between leting children draw for the sake of it and explore their world as it appears to them and teaching children how to drwa.

 

Who are we to question the accuracy of a child's image and/or mark making when we can't see or experience what they are seeing and experiencing?

 

All children develop at different stages and drawing is no exception.

 

I am a teacher and a parent and sometimes I found it very difficult to allow my daughter to make and create these 'things 'that she insisted were robots and cars and castlesetc. However, I held my nerve and desisted from interference and how rewarding it has been. She obviously has a clear vision of what she wants to make and now this is coming through in her drawing. I have learnt so much about how she sees things and what's important to her and what her world means.

 

We also draw together and I draw for her or alongside her. As with behaviour and language, modelling how to draw something (not stereo typically) is a great way to learn and if adults feel they can't draw, then so what...now you know what the children feel like and , hey, we all mistakes.

 

On the other hand....how can we expect children to develop without showing them or encouraging them to draw in a guided way. Interestingly my dissertation is coming along these lines. Art / drawing as a discrete subject in early years is shied away from y many because there is concern at interfering and doing it for them. But just because you demonstrate and give children the chance does not mean it is wrong. You are giving them an opportunity to see what another person can do and to interpret something in a more specific way.

 

 

A balance , I think, is the answer, but remembering that all children are as individual as their drawings and all drawings are as individual as the child that makes them.

 

 

I could go onn......, let me know

Kate :D

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Hello therre

I think it all depends very much on what you want the children to produce as a result of the task you have set, if indeed there has been one. There is a distinct difference between leting children draw for the sake of it and explore their world as it appears to them and teaching children how to drwa.

 

Who are we to question the accuracy of a child's image and/or mark making when we can't see or experience what they are seeing and experiencing?

 

All children develop at different stages and drawing is no exception.

 

I am a teacher and a parent and sometimes I found it very difficult to allow my daughter to make and create these 'things 'that she insisted were robots and cars and castlesetc. However, I held my nerve and desisted from interference and how rewarding it has been. She obviously has a clear vision of what she wants to make and now this is coming through in her drawing. I have learnt so much about how she sees things and what's important to her and what her world means.

 

We also draw together and I draw for her or alongside her. As with behaviour and language, modelling how to draw something (not stereo typically) is a great way to learn and if adults feel they can't draw, then so what...now you know what the children feel like and , hey, we all mistakes.

 

On the other hand....how can we expect children to develop without showing them or encouraging them to draw in a guided way. Interestingly my dissertation is coming along these lines. Art / drawing as a discrete subject in early years is shied away from y many because there is concern at interfering and doing it for them. But just because you demonstrate and give children the chance does not mean it is wrong. You are giving them an opportunity to see what another person can do and to interpret something in a more specific way.

 

 

A balance , I think, is the answer, but remembering that all children are as individual as their drawings and all drawings are as individual as the child that makes them.

 

 

I could go onn......, let me know

Kate :D

Please go on Kate, I'm am building up evidence to present to the head teaher of the school.

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We have a combination of free drawing/painting and guided stuff. When they are at the writing table with small chalk boards, white boards, paper and crayons, felt pens etc. the children are given a free reign and can do their own thing. The same goes for the easel for free painting, chalks and white board.

On occasions though we will direct the children, for example if they are doing a self portrait or an observational painting/drawing. At these times we ask them to think about what they are painting/drawing. So, if it is a self portrait we make them think about the shape of their face, what colour eyes and hair they have etc. We will do this sometimes if they are painting/drawing an animal, their home etc. It's amazing what they can do if they are made to think about it. Sometimes parents say that their child has not done this painting, as though we have held their hand with the paint brush-we don't. We just make them think about what they are doing.

I think a combination of the two gives the children freedom to use their own imagination and also some guidance.

Hope this helps.

Linda

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We have a combination of free drawing/painting and guided stuff. When they are at the writing table with small chalk boards, white boards, paper and crayons, felt pens etc. the children are given a free reign and can do their own thing. The same goes for the easel for free painting, chalks and white board.

On occasions though we will direct the children, for example if they are doing a self portrait or an observational painting/drawing. At these times we ask them to think about what they are painting/drawing. So, if it is a self portrait we make them think about the shape of their face, what colour eyes and hair they have etc. We will do this sometimes if they are painting/drawing an animal, their home etc. It's amazing what they can do if they are made to think about it. Sometimes parents say that their child has not done this painting, as though we have held their hand with the paint brush-we don't. We just make them think about what they are doing.

I think a combination of the two gives the children freedom to use their own imagination and also some guidance.

Hope this helps.

Linda

Thank you Linda, this will go great in my file of evidence to present to the head.

jaime

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Here is a resume of a story I heard a while ago - Jamie was excited to be starting school there would be lots of exciting things for him to learn. He loved learning and exploring; he had done a lot of that at home and playgroup and was looking forward to all the new things there would be for him to do. On the first day the teacher said 'I want you to draw a picture'. 'Great' thought Jamie, he loved drawing swirly, whirly pictures with lots of colour. He picked up a crayon - "Wait," said the teacher, " I haven't told you what we are going to draw. We are going to draw a garden with a big tree with a brown trunk and lots of green leaves. There is a blue sky and yellow sun and lots of flowers. You may begin." So Jamie drew the picture. Another day the teacher said "Today we are going to use clay". "Great" thought Jamie, he had often used clay and playdough making lots of interesting shapes and animals. He started to knead his clay. "Wait" said the teacher "I haven't told you what we are going to make. Today we are going to make an elephant with four legs, a long trunk, big ears and a dangly tail". So Jamie made an elephant. And so it goes on until one day a new teacher comes into the class and says "I want you to draw a picture". Jamie waits. The teacher comes alongside Jamie and says "Why aren't you drawing". Jamie says "Because you haven't told me what to draw" The teacher says "You can draw whatever you like" So Jamie picks up his crayon and starts to draw a big tree with a brown trunk and lots of green leaves....

 

That story fills me with such sadness - all that imagination, stifled.

 

There is probably a very difficult line to draw between children's own creative/free drawing and directing them to something which is recognisable. The stage the child is at is obviously very important, so to is their preferred way of learning. In my pre-school we have some children who can make very detailed drawings and others of the same age who can barely hold a pencil - but they are very good at other things. And after all how many adults can draw a horse or lion? I am often having to guide my staff away from .."Here's one I made earlier".

 

We also need to know that children have some concept or idea in their minds of what it is we want them to draw - a child who lives in a flat or bungalow may not draw the conventional two-storey house and how can a child draw a sheep or ladybird if they have never seen one? And if ,after being shown the picture of a sheep and asked to draw one a child comes up with something completely different and says "Yes but this is how I think a sheep should look.".... Well who are we to differ?

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Here is a resume of a story I heard a while ago - Jamie was excited to be starting school there would be lots of exciting things for him to learn. He loved learning and exploring; he had done a lot of that at home and playgroup and was looking forward to all the new things there would be for him to do. On the first day the teacher said 'I want you to draw a picture'. 'Great' thought Jamie, he loved drawing swirly, whirly pictures with lots of colour. He picked up a crayon - "Wait," said the teacher, " I haven't told you what we are going to draw. We are going to draw a garden with a big tree with a brown trunk and lots of green leaves. There is a blue sky and yellow sun and lots of flowers. You may begin." So Jamie drew the picture. Another day the teacher said "Today we are going to use clay". "Great" thought Jamie, he had often used clay and playdough making lots of interesting shapes and animals. He started to knead his clay. "Wait" said the teacher "I haven't told you what we are going to make. Today we are going to make an elephant with four legs, a long trunk, big ears and a dangly tail". So Jamie made an elephant. And so it goes on until one day a new teacher comes into the class and says "I want you to draw a picture". Jamie waits. The teacher comes alongside Jamie and says "Why aren't you drawing". Jamie says "Because you haven't told me what to draw" The teacher says "You can draw whatever you like" So Jamie picks up his crayon and starts to draw a big tree with a brown trunk and lots of green leaves....

 

That story fills me with such sadness - all that imagination, stifled.

 

There is probably a very difficult line to draw between children's own creative/free drawing and directing them to something which is recognisable. The stage the child is at is obviously very important, so to is their preferred way of learning. In my pre-school we have some children who can make very detailed drawings and others of the same age who can barely hold a pencil - but they are very good at other things. And after all how many adults can draw a horse or lion? I am often having to guide my staff away from .."Here's one I made earlier".

 

We also need to know that children have some concept or idea in their minds of what it is we want them to draw - a child who lives in a flat or bungalow may not draw the conventional two-storey house and how can a child draw a sheep or ladybird if they have never seen one? And if ,after being shown the picture of a sheep and asked to draw one a child comes up with something completely different and says "Yes but this is how I think a sheep should look.".... Well who are we to differ?

Jan,

Thank you so much for that, I think that will get the message across to the head teacher totally, it fantastic.

thank you so much

jaime

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Jan, what a great story!! I shall bookmark that for future reference, if you don't mind!

 

Someone else said the word 'balance'. I think that sums it up. Just as when children are building with lego or doing a puzzle, or drawing or painting, there are times for intervention and times for staying well out of the picture. (pun intended)

 

One useful tool can be to sit alongside and draw or paint yourself. Pole bridging while you do so (talking about what you are doing, while you do it) can add language to the experience, and can give suggestions without them being direct suggestions. The child can take them or leave them. Eg 'Oh, I'm drawing my little girl, Karin, in our garden at home........... Here's Leo, my dog........... He has pointy ears...........I'm putting them right here, on top of his head......one, two" and so on.

 

I think we can often be so concerned in the end product that we forget the importance of the experience. By joining in, we can give ourselves a good reminder!

 

Interesting discussion, I'm enjoying it! Especially as my little girl is really getting into the art stuff now. We have paints and glue out most days. Which is a reason for another thread, hmm, I'm going to see if I can grab time to post it now...... :D

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Jan, what a great story!! I shall bookmark that for future reference, if you don't mind!

 

Someone else said the word 'balance'. I think that sums it up. Just as when children are building with lego or doing a puzzle, or drawing or painting, there are times for intervention and times for staying well out of the picture. (pun intended)

 

One useful tool can be to sit alongside and draw or paint yourself. Pole bridging while you do so (talking about what you are doing, while you do it) can add language to the experience, and can give suggestions without them being direct suggestions. The child can take them or leave them. Eg 'Oh, I'm drawing my little girl, Karin, in our garden at home........... Here's Leo, my dog........... He has pointy ears...........I'm putting them right here, on top of his head......one, two" and so on.

 

I think we can often be so concerned in the end product that we forget the importance of the experience. By joining in, we can give ourselves a good reminder!

 

Interesting discussion, I'm enjoying it! Especially as my little girl is really getting into the art stuff now. We have paints and glue out most days. Which is a reason for another thread, hmm, I'm going to see if I can grab time to post it now...... :D

I'm glad you are enjoying the discssion, its really intresting to read the comments. It puts my mind at ease as others are thinking along the same lines as i was.

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  • 3 months later...

Jan! your story is so true. Think I will have to copy it for my Practitioners. It shows exactly why children have to have opportunities to try for themselves! I do think there is a place for both but having just got rid of the templates, I am encouraging "all their own work"

Chris ( who cant draw :D to save herself!)

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  • 4 months later...

I have only just found this thread and agree that a balance is what is needed.

 

I have heard of a story, not sure if it is true, where a child used to draw a bird. It was a gread big fat bird with a round tummy, dangling legs, wavy wings and a face. A teacher drew a bird (the 'v-shaped ones) and said that is how yo draw a bird. Now that child no longer draws fat chubby birds but flying v's on his paper.

 

I think that we have to be so carefull as we are a role model and a great influence to the children.

 

I have seen staff do an 'observational drawing session' where they have drawn the fruit on the table with all the right colours and shapes. All teh children's pictures looked the same. Some people who saw them could not believe that the children did them.

 

Food for thought!!

 

There is also a book about called the 'Anti-colouring Book' it encourages the children to draw their own pictures rather than colour in. A fantastic reasource.

 

Liz

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I just wonder what you would all think if you walked into our pre-school and saw the art work on display. One picture is a large sheet of paper that is painted totally black. MMmm, what does that tell us I wonder but there is an explanation on show alongside the picture. The story behind it is this:

 

We had been doing a mini topic on light/dark and covered lots of things including night and day. For one creative activity the children were asked to make either a picture of something in the daytime or night time. We provided a host of resources in terms of colours of paper and many mediums to choose from.

 

One little chap selected a yellow piece of paper and announced his was a "day picture" and it was going to be his cat in tree in the garden. He started using a wax crayon for his sky and coloured across the paper. Then he chose paint for his tree, the result was superb - it was a "big and round tree" with trunk and branches and the most delightful black cat plonked in the middle. It is one of the nicest pieces of artwork I have seen in a long time. Then suddenly he changed his mind and wanted his picture to be at night so he picked up the black paint and covered the whole page with it. When the pictures go on display we ask the children what they would like to say about them and on the wall was one soggy black piece of paper with the quote "MY cat up a tree in my garden but you can't see it because it's night time"

 

I used this as an observation in my course work and have the most delightful photographs of the child in action - it was fascinating!

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Geraldine,

 

There is a lovely explanation for this: the 'enveloping schema'.

 

I used to be so disappointed when the beautiful picture turned into complete blackness. Now I know it has its purpose (as does your little one who did it; at least you had a verbal explanation - in many cases this does not happen).

 

Overall, it is super, it is the child's picture, and he knows what is underneath. One way to document this (for yourself, for the child, and for the parent) is to have the digital camera at the ready do lots of sequential photos: you can then remind the child what the picture looked like before night fell, you can show the parent (and/or give them mini-prints) - 35 to an A4 page if you like, and they feel much happier.

 

I know - I was such a parent, and I would loved to have known what it was before it was black (unfortunately my child had communication problems). My (relatively recent) knowledge of schemas makes me feel much better about some of the things she did in her early years.

 

Diane.

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Mum was thrilled with the pics i did 8 on an A4 sheet and the beautiful cat in the tree is there before "night fell" I was using the activity for an observation for my course work. The chap discovered that you can't paint over wax crayon ( well not easily!) and his problem solving techiniques were working over time bless him. If the paintbrush is insufficient just use the whole bottle!!! :D

 

Since this happened I have heard of a child who painted a picture of sausage and chips and then covered the sheet with brown paint - it was the gravy!!

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I tell you Geraldine,

 

From my new- found theoretical knowledge it's :o a schema! I love the 'gravy' schema. That needs to be added to the list (alongside trajectory, enveloping, connecting, transporting, rotating, etc., we now have gravying). I love it.

 

In absolute honesty, I think it is just something that children enjoy doing (and it doesn't matter to them what we call it).

 

The most important thing is that enjoyment was there.

 

Diane

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I'm really glad this topic got resurrected - I enjoyed it the first time round!

 

Diane, I'd love to know more about schemas. They've been mentioned several times in posts here, but I have yet to read anything formal. Anything you'd particularly recommend reading?

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SCHEMAS....

 

 

I have found the concept of schemas quite useful, particularly trajectory (in relation to children labelled as 'agressive') and rotational (often a feature in ASD children, and I am told that schemas are also applicable here).

 

For schemas, Chris Athey and Tina Bruce are the authorities. There is lots to choose from. I started with Athey's 'Extending thought in young children' (Publ: Paul Chapman, 1990). Then just dipped into other things after that. It is fascinating and I would like to explore this route further.

 

I would dearly love to visit a setting that uses schemas on a day-to-day basis. I would like to see how planning and activities accommodate individual children's schemas (as well as the children's progress towards the ELG's).

 

 

Diane.

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I too am very interested in schemas. From what I can gather the settings that use this approach fully begin by identifying each child's schema and then plan each child's learning/development from it. The inspirational Chris Athey descrbed a schema as "A pattern or repeatable behaviour into which experiences are assimilated"

 

I have had times when a child has monopolised a piece of equipment and on occasions dealt with it by encouraging them to share and take turns or perhaps diverting there interest elsewhere. (Not that it always worked) Since studying the schema approach I have done things differently. Why does a child always choose the same activity - is it more than just because it's his/her "favourite thing"

 

My study led me to consider one child in particular. A little boy played with a wooden train set at every opportunity - happy to play alone he lined up the carriages repeatedly. On the odd occasion he did not choose the train he played with some connecting cubes but again lined them up along the floor.

 

It would be presumptuous of me to claim I recognised a schema and acted on it but I did react differently.

I started playing dominoes on the floor and he came to watch - I am sure it was because I was connecting them or "lining them up!" This progressed to him playing with me but he was very keen to ensure the dominoes were a long line as opposed to the abstract dominoe pattern that would normally result. The little boy now plays dominoes with another child (big step forward for him!) or an adult. He is still connecting and joining but is doing so by matching, sorting, comparing colours and counting.

 

I would love to learn more and currently only know the elemental schema identifiers as being trajectory, rotation, enclosure, enveloping, connecting and transporting. I want to understand more about the relative developmental stages and visit a schema setting. When and as time allows I hope to get there!!! Fascinating subject and if there are any experts here perhaps they can enlighten me!

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There is a little girl at playgroup at the moment who paints alot. She has recently started painting just the edges of the paper leaving the middle blank. Is this an enclosure schema? What should I be doing?? :o

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  • 2 years later...

I know this is an old post but, having come across it I just have to say post no.9 WOW!

A totally inspiring story I've copied it out and will be laminating it to put up; not so much for my colleagues but for parents who constantly compare their childrens work

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I've enjoyed re-reading these too.

Another similar story is the one about the boy who loved to paint horses, in fact he was mad about all sorts of horses, enjoying them in stories, small world play and representing them in art.

 

He would paint wonderful purple horses, multi-coloured horses, flying horses, sleeping horses, etc, who all had adventures which he narrated to himself as he painted.

 

The interest lasted over a long period of time, until Christmas. His nan knew he loved horses, so she bought him a colouring in book, full of horse pictures.

 

Maybe a coincidence but on his return to preschool after the christmas break, he never painted horses again. The theory is, is that because he saw horse pictures in print, he learnt that this is how they should look. They didn't look like his horses, but the book must be right because it was called a picture book of horses. So, he learnt he couldn't draw / paint horses correctly.

 

I think creativity and specific skills in drawing, as others have said, are seperate.

 

In creativity we teach children skills such as being able to cut sellotape to enable them to extend their creative model making by adding bits on. The same with drawing, teaching them, motor skills, observational and thinking skills to enhance what they draw helps their sense of achievement. As long as it is what they want to, or feel inspired to draw, then that is a good balance alongside creative child led expression.

 

I remember the first time my son started putting minute details into his drawings, he was mad about football and couldn't understand when I made such a proud fuss of the tiny, tiny, studs he had drawn on the bottom of the football boots. Now girls, they add lots and lots of eyelashes to their drawings, don't they????

 

another topic eh, gender tendencies in childrens representations.

 

Peggy

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I love all these stories, they really make you remember that each picture has a meaning to the child that made it. One little girl used to tell the most wonderful stories about her paintings and I would write them out for her to put with her paintings. Her mum then turned them into a 'book' which she still has several years later.

 

As for gender tendencies my girls love big curly eyelashes, beautiful thick red lips and teeter totter high heels and my baby boy , well all his scribblings are trains; he can always name which engine is which (Thomas is the bane of my life) when to me they look like lovely swirls and curls!

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My favourite story, which I use on training is the value of observations and interaction with children...

 

A little boy was busying himself at the painting easel, doing lots of marks and 'splodges' when a member of staff just happened to sit down near him and ask about his picture. He said that he was painting a circus (it later transpired that he had recently been to one) and went through all the animals that he had seen, making marks on the paper. All of a sudden he decided to paint over the whole picture, to the horror of the member of staff!

When asked why he had done that, the little boy simply replied - 'the lights have gone out'

 

The member of staff was able to write it up as an observation and tell the parent the whole story when presenting the parent with a crispy dried up piece of brown paper at the end of the session.

 

What would that staff member or parent have done with that picture if they hadn't been there to see and hear the thought processes of that little boy?

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Thanks for all these stories. We have been talking about this during this school year and how important it is to observe the process and give more liberty to children, even if they are only 2 o 3 years old. Lots of times teachers just consider the 'expected' result for the parents and forget of who is ithe most mportant, the children. Our ego can become their frustration.

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