As kids grow and mature, so can their art projects. Take drawing skills to a whole new level with fun activities that build new skills and challenge a child's perspective.
Kids ages four and up can use natural light from the sun or man-made light from a lamp or flashlight to learn about shadows and depth in drawing. All you need is some form of light and a three-dimensional object with some height to it. Kid's plastic toy figures make great materials for this project.
- Place a sheet of drawing paper on a flat surface.
- Stand the 3-D object at one edge of the paper.
- Position the paper or the light so the shadow of the object is projected on the paper.
- Trace the shadow.
If you want to make the project a little more difficult, tape the paper to a wall, prop the object a few inches in front of the paper, then shine a light at the object. Kids can trace the shadow on the paper as it hangs on the wall.
Older kids ages eight and up learn about grid-making, copying, and composition in this classic activity. Add difficulty to the project by asking kids to translate a small image onto a larger piece of paper.
You'll need a standard ruler and a printed image to start. A close-up portrait of the child works well as a starting image, or you could use a coloring page from a children's small coloring book.
- Print out a portrait or other image in a four by six, five by seven, or eight by ten size.
- Use the ruler to create a series of horizontal and vertical lines directly on the image. For younger kids, fewer squares will be easier to manage and you could simply make a horizontal line down the center of the image and a vertical line across the center to make a 2 by 2 grid. Older kids can work with a larger grid by making each square one inch tall and one inch wide.
- Draw a grid equal to the one in step 2 on a blank sheet of paper the same size as the original image.
- Drawing in one square at a time on the blank page, copy the lines from the matching square in the original image.
Children as young as four can learn the basics of lines, curves, and scale when they trace an object like a simple-shaped cookie cutter or magnet letter. As kids get older, look for more complex objects to trace like toy dinosaurs or tools.
- Lay the cookie cutter flat on a sheet of paper, just like you would position it when cutting out cookies from dough.
- Hold the cookie cutter in place as best you can by pushing down on the top with your non-dominant hand (or a grown-up can help for very young children). Then, trace around the outside edge with a pencil in the other hand. The pencil tip should 'hug' the edge of the cookie cutter as they go.
- Repeat step 2 with the inside edge if desired. In this case kids will need to squeeze the outside edges with their fingers to hold it in place.
- Remove the cookie cutter and color in the creation.
Quick Drawing Projects
While drawing may seem simple, projects infused with a little creative thinking offer kids the chance to discover and practice a variety of advanced art concepts. Don't limit your drawing to pencil and paper; try out these fun ideas.
- Create a cohesive image using only shapes like squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, and ovals. Add difficulty by incorporating at least one complex shape like an octagon, star, or crescent.
- Make your own dot-to-dot drawing using an old map. Connect the dots indicating cities or towns to create an identifiable image.
- Glue a household item, like a pencil, or a natural material, like a leaf, to the page and draw around it to create something new, like a bug or alien.
- Use graph paper and draw a picture staying only on connected lines the entire time.
- Make a word tangle by drawing one continuous line around the page until you have created several sections. Write words in print, cursive, or all capitals to fill each section.
- Use your non-dominant hand or your toes to draw a picture.
- Set up a still life scene with toys or fruits then try to draw it.
Think Outside the Box
Doodling and drawing are fun, but focused efforts help your child become a better artist too. Get creative and experiment with different drawing tools like a pencil, pen, crayon, or charcoal to see which works best for each project.