One of the best ways to get children started with early writing is to interest them in drawing.
I have taught children between the ages of three to five over the last 12 years, and in that time I have seen the massive benefits that introducing children to drawing through games can have.
In this post, I’ll describe my favorite 12 drawing games for preschoolers. Many of these:
- Use exciting tools to draw with
- Tap into childrens’ interests
- Get children interested in making marks for the first time
- Start them off with writing patterns
- Help them process ideas and interpret their thinking (Source)
Let’s dive in:
1. Drawing With Natural Paint Brushes
This is a very beautiful and natural activity.
Using unusual objects to paint with really gets children motivated and interested, and is good for the more reluctant.
It is easy to make these natural paintbrushes. I make them by finding some sticks and attaching a range of natural objects to the ends of the sticks.
Some great objects include:
- Dried leaves
Attach these objects To the sticks rubber bands or string.
These brushes are fantastic for painting onto a range of different surfaces. I like to use paint in bowls, and a large surface such as wallpaper on the ground.
2. Drawing With Mud On Big Sheets
This is amazingly exciting!
Pretty much all children love getting stuck into mud activities.
The way I do this is to hang up a huge white tarpaulin outside have some buckets of mud ready, or the children can find their own mud.
Use large painter’s brushes, and the kids dip the brushes in the mud I’m can draw on the large tarpaulin.
You could also use something like big bedsheets hung up. But tarpaulin works well because you can hose it down at the end and have a fresh surface to use the next day.
3. Drawing on OHP
This is a real classic of the repertoire!
All you need for this is an overhead projector, some washable pens, and some clear plastic projector slides. It’s important to use washable pens as some kids will almost certainly draw slightly on the OHP! (you have been warned!)
Put the OHP on so that it is aiming at a wall nearby. The kids quite simply draw on the clear slides and can see what they have drawn projected on the wall.
This is a great game for generating awe and wonder and curiosity.
4. Drawing On Mirrors
This is another great activity for using those washable pens.
You need some kind of large safety mirror for this activity. Place the mirror on a table or on the floor and quite simply encourage the children to draw on it with washable pens.
They like to draw around what they can see in the mirror. They might draw their own face or those of kids around them.
It’s a good idea to add toy figures or construction toys to the experience. Children can, for example, build a tower of blocks and draw the reflection in the mirror.
Or they can draw the reflection of the toy figures. Hours of fun!
5. Drawing With Writing Patterns
One strategy that is one of the best for getting preschoolers started with early writing, is creating pictures that have simple writing patterns in them.
Writing patterns are simple lines that are a precursor to writing letters. Examples of writing patterns are zigzags, wiggly lines, and a line of dots.
To learn more about what writing patterns are then you can check out this article that I wrote about it.
I like to introduce writing patterns through drawing. For example, sit a group of children around a large piece of wallpaper on the floor. Each child has a pen to draw with.
Show the kids how to draw a specific image using writing patterns.
For example, in the past, I showed them how to draw an owl. It looked like this:
You can see the following writing patterns:
- eyes – circles
- Body feathers- u shapes
- Wings – large u shapes
- Feet – lines
Slowly demonstrate the picture and get the children to have a go one element at a time. This is the kind of activity that you hope the kids might try by themselves once you’ve shown them what to do.
6. Mark-Making Dice
A simple and fun resource to stimulate writing patterns as part of a game is to use mark-making dice.
I find it fun to have a theme when I make one of these dice. For example, here is a pizza topping dice that I created:
It basically has pictures of pizza toppings on it.
All of these toppings are very simple to draw. For example, it has olives which are circles, mushrooms, slices of bacon which are just three lines, and other simple drawn toppings such as these.
This is another activity that requires a big surface to draw on. Something like big wallpaper on the floor outside and big pens would be perfect.
Draw a giant circle on the paper. Tell the children we are going to make the world’s biggest pizza.
one of the children rolls the dice, and we see what it lands on. Together everyone draws that topping lots of times on the pizza. For example, if it lands on the bacon then everyone draws 3 lines next to each other again and again.
Other dice I have created include a space dice, with lots of moons and planets and stars drawn on it, and a seaside dice that had lots of fish and jellyfish and waves.
7. Chalkboard Paint Objects
Chalkboard paint is a really magical substance.
There are all sorts of things that you can paint with chalkboard paint, and then the children can draw on them with chalk.
One thing I like to paint is toy animals with natural markings on their skin. for example, try one of the following:
- A toy giraffe
- A tiger
- A cheetah
- A fish
Get the toy, for example, a fish, and paint it with chalkboard paint. Leave it to dry, and then you have a surface for the children to draw on.
With chalks, the children can draw on the Natural markings of the animal. It is good for them to have pictures of what the animals look like. Then they can copy the natural markings.
There are many other objects you can paint with chalkboard paint. These include:
- A plate – the kids can draw food on it
- Vehicles-they can draw go faster stripes or windows and other vehicle markings
- A globe – they can draw on countries or a treasure map
8. Mark Making With Loose Parts
Loose parts can be a very exciting thing to draw with. They work really well for drawing in malleable substances.
For example, drawing in the mud using sticks. or drawing in sand using popsicle sticks or feathers.
You can also attach loose parts two things like clothespins and use them to draw or paint.
9.Mark Making Stories
This is a fantastic activity that combines storytelling with simple drawing.
Once again sit around a large surface such as wallpaper as a group.
Make up a simple story and show the children how to ‘draw’ it as you go.
For example, you might say, ‘One day Meg the shark went swimming through the giant waves.’ Show them how to draw big waves on the paper let them all have a go.
Suddenly Meg arrived at a giant Whirlpool. Get them all to draw a big swirly Whirlpool.
It started to rain. See if they can draw dots as rain.
If the children can make up the story themselves then that is even better. If not, just do you make it up yourself and get them to join in with the drawing element.
10. Writing Patterns To Music
This is a fun activity that combines music and drawing. Get a big surface again such as wallpaper.
Each child has a pen and sits around the wallpaper on the ground.
Put on some pumping music! I like to use something with no words such as this:
Demonstrate some simple writing patterns to the music and the children can copy.
When I say to the music I mean try to move your pen to the rhythm of the beat. For example, if you are doing zigzags then go up for two beats and down for two beats.
The music really helps with the excitement and interest that the children have in this game. Other writing patterns to try include:
- dots in a line
- straight lines
11. Drawing Their Face With Mirrors
This is a very simple idea, but one of my favorite drawing games.
The easiest way to do it is to get a safety mirror and a washable pen. The kids look at their faces in the mirror and draw around the outline using the washable pen. Simple!
A slightly trickier way of doing this is each one has a piece of paper and a mirror and a pen. They look at themselves in the mirror and try and draw what they see on the paper.
12. Drawing Maps
One of the best simple drawing activities is making maps. These are good even for the most reluctant children.
There are many different things you could make maps of.
A simple idea might be to try their route to school or pre-school. All you need is one wiggly line that runs from one side of the paper to the other. This is the route they take.
Next to the route, encourage them to draw the things they see on their way. They might see a shop or a tree or a house. Whatever it is ask them to draw it. It doesn’t have to look like the thing it is supposed to be. Their representation is completely fine!
Other good maps to try include:
- A journey that they know
- A treasure map
- A route of a holiday they went on
Simple games and activities are a great way to get children to make marks for the first time.
Try some of these simple games to get children motivated, enthused, actually wanting to put pen to paper for different fun purposes.
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