- Learning drawing skills shouldn't always be the focus of the exercises. Children also need to learn techniques and how to use the tools. Some play time for this purpose is needed and to simply explore.
- It's a good idea to have extra exercises available for those who work at a faster pace.
- One of our projects using coloured pencils was to create a swanky design of their first initial, then add embellishments in and around the letter such as curliques, stars, vines or whatever they liked. Next they added colour. They LOVED this. Not only did it give them practice in how to properly use the pencils, they also got to practice colour mixing and use their creativity to come up with their own design.
- Minimize distractions. They found the fish tank in our "classroom" quite attractive, so now I cover the tank each week. However, if someone is finished an exercise early they can peak under the towel to watch the fish and draw them. It hasn't been all bad - they really have been absorbed in observing the colours of the fish and learning the different types.
- Don't make them devote the entire class time to drawing from real life. Children love to draw from their imagination, and this should be encouraged. Creating something of their own and the personal investigation this takes is important, and they need to be encouraged to try new things. And if they run into challenges, well, that can be good too as it helps them develop problem solving skills.
- One of the best exercises we did was to draw portraits. Pictures from magazines work well; cut down the middle of the picture, using only the left or right half of the face. The object is for them to draw the other half. This was the turning point for most in learning how to see. Of course we reviewed tips & tricks first such as using grids, measuring with a pencil or ruler, and so on.
If you're stuck for ideas, there are loads of great art books at the library. Spend an afternoon browsing and pick out a few that the kids may like and which cover subjects of interest to them.
Children have no fear in trying new things, indeed they have been able to laugh at some of their work, but they also work hard and have very much wanted to see good results. Watching their progress has, for me, been very rewarding and I'm hoping they'll be back for another session this spring.
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