Our school holidays were not the relaxed, long, easy days, full of wonderful play opportunities, that I had planned. But one thing my kids always seem to have time for, no matter what we're doing, is drawing. They both absolutely love it and it is something that they do every single day.
I have put together an art cupboard so that whenever the mood takes my two, they are able to open up a cupboard we have in the dining room and set themselves up to do some drawing. The way I've organised things, they don't need my help at all which means they are able to amuse themselves and get themselves busy no matter what I am doing and whether or not I'm able to help them.
This is what one shelf of our art cupboard looks like. I've used different things to hold pencils, textas and crayons. I've tried to choose containers that are bright, colourful and appealing but also containers that allow easy access to materials. The kids can choose colours easily because they're all visible and I have sorted each container so that all the pencils are together, all the textas are together, etc.
I've used some document trays to hold the paper. I always try to provide clean, white paper to use because I think drawings look better on nice paper and it encourages the children to take pride in what they are doing. I encourage the recycling of paper by re-using pieces that have already been drawn on for times when the kids are just trying out ideas, scribbling or cutting. You can see there are two trays - the first is for clean paper, the one alongside is for work when it is finished. I try to clean out this tray every couple of weeks. I find my emotional attachment isn't as strong as time goes by, so I wait to sort things through. Then I'll throw away junky pieces of work (or drawings that I have seen over and over again!) and just keep the good ones. The really special pieces I will give away to grandparents or stick into some scrapbooks I keep for each of the children. It's great to look back and see how the kids' drawing has progressed over the years. Mind you, my scrapbooks are nothing fancy, just the cheap paper kind you buy from the supermarket and I stick the pictures in with a trusty old glue stick. I do try to write the date and the year the drawing has been done though.
Ed has just started to draw recognisable faces. He has drawn alongside his sister for around 18 months and up until now he has just scribbled, but he has loved every minute of it. It's amazing how much drawing can entertain a young child even when they are not producing recognisable work. But scribbling is a really important stage that all children go through and I really think it's important to respect this stage and allow lots of opportunity for it. Ed's practice has paid off and here is an example of his fine work!
He is so excited by the fact he can draw faces that I even found him at the table the other day trying to draw his favourite tractor.
The finished product didn't resemble the tractor much at all, but he did manage to draw the three wheels he could see. Seeing him set something like this up for himself really made me appreciate just how complex and involved children's thinking can be sometimes and also how important it is that as parents we give our children the materials and opportunities that allow them to explore their creativity and play out their ideas. If I had his textas and paper locked away where he couldn't access them, there is no way Ed would have been able to do this for himself.
Em has been drawing since she was around 12 months old and her drawings now are really detailed and involved.
She uses the drawing materials in all kinds of ways. She will sit down and do detailed, involved drawings like this, or she will write letters, make invitations for make believe parties she has dreamed up, put together books of her favourite things or use the sticky tape, staplers, glue and stickers we also have in the art cupboard to create whatever her heart desires.
Of course, drawing every day means she constantly works on her fine motor skills, she is always writing, which means she is building her literacy skills and practicing her hand writing, not to mention the imagination and creativity she is developing when putting together her stories and pictures, but I think the biggest impact for Em is the effect her drawing has on her social and emotional abilities. She is always making pictures and letters for her friends and family, drawing with and for friends who are visiting and she also uses drawing to help her make sense of things she is seeing around her. She will draw places she has visited or recreate a scene she has experienced with her loved ones. It's a constant means for her to process what she is experiencing in the world and I think this is probably one of the most important ways drawing helps children develop.