When I was an art teacher, the youngest age group I worked with was Kindergarten so I rarely had the chance to witness a child’s transition from scribbling to representational drawing. My three year old daughter is at the precipice of representational drawing and it’s an exciting place to be, but she can get frustrated that she can’t create what she imagines (which is often!) and frequently asks me to draw things for her. This can be tricky because it goes against my belief that children should find their own way with visual representation and I’m often reluctant to draw things for her.
This project was born from a need to manifest her vision while also matching her abilities, and would be appropriate for children on the verge of creating representational drawings as well as those who draw realistically. Links to information about stages of artistic development at the end of this post.
I cut circles, rectangles, half circles, and some organic shapes from colorful recycled pantry boxes and spread them out on the table for my daughter to choose from. N chose a light blue oval for the face shape (also pre-cut), glued it to a 9 x 12 sheet of paper, and selected pieces to represent the parts of the face.
Facilitating and Asking Questions
I acted as a facilitator and if she seemed stumped I would ask questions such as, “What part of the face is next to the eyes?” “Ears? Okay, can you find a shape that could be an ear?”
I tried not to guide her decision-making and made room for her to adhere the pieces in the way she envisioned it, even if I didn’t think it was “accurate.”
She added the eyes (on top), nose, ears, orange cheeks, a mouth, and an aluminum foil philtrum (the area between the mouth and nose!). Did you know it’s called a philtrum? I didn’t!! I thought she was adding a mustache on top, but she explained that it was just a ribbon! Always ask before making assumptions!
She wanted to make curl the ribbon into a circle and I helped her glue it together. I enjoyed watching her vacillate between reality and imagination in one sitting.
When she finished the first picture she moved on to the next one (after a costume change, of course!), and this time it was all about the imagination — no faces involved!
- For more on the developmental stages of children’s drawings, Viktor Lowenfeld is the last word on this topic and you’ll learn a lot about it here.
- For even more from Viktor Lowenfeld, you could read this seminal book from him: Creative and Mental Growth. I just bought a used copy for myself for just $7!
How did your children make the transition from scribbles to representational drawing?
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