Creative Drawing Ideas for Kids

Michele Meleen
Contributor: Amy Finley
Kids drawing on large paper

As kids grow and mature, so can their art projects. Try some of these fun and creative drawing activities that build new skills and challenge a child's perspective.

Shadow Drawing

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.

Directions

  1. Place a sheet of drawing paper on a flat surface.
  2. Stand the 3-D object at one edge of the paper.
  3. Position the paper or the light so the shadow of the object is projected on the paper.
  4. 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.

Grid Drawing

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.

Materials

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.

Instructions

  1. Print out a portrait or other image in a four by six, five by seven, or eight by ten size.
  2. 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.
  3. Draw a grid equal to the one in step 2 on a blank sheet of paper the same size as the original image.
  4. Drawing in one square at a time on the blank page, copy the lines from the matching square in the original image.

Trace Drawing

boy about to trace object

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.

Instructions

  1. Lay the cookie cutter flat on a sheet of paper, just like you would position it when cutting out cookies from dough.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

List of Easy Drawing Ideas

Are you looking for a fun and easy idea to help your child express his or her creativity? Try one of these unique and simple ways to draw.

  • Condiment drawing: You don't need any special tools for this one! Grab a few condiments, like ketchup, mustard, mayo or barbeque sauce, and add a dollop to the corner of a clean cookie sheet. Use the condiments to draw a creative picture. A child can 'erase' the drawing and do another one with this method. (Shaving cream can also work)
  • Food character fun: Think of a favorite food, and then turn that food into a character and draw what the character looks like. Add details like where they live and what the surroundings look like.
  • Invisible drawing: Use glue on a q-tip or tooth pick and draw a picture. Before it dries, cover the paper with glitter so the drawing shows up in sparkles.
  • Crayon shaving drawing: If you have an old cheese grater lying around, shave some different colored crayon shavings over a piece of paper. Warm these with a hair dryer until they begin to melt, then let your child draw in the warm wax with a wooden skewer or q-tip.
  • Dice drawing: Create your own drawing dice by cutting out construction paper with several different words or phrases (you can be as simple or creative as you want, from general words like 'place' or 'something scary' to specific items such as 'pizza' or 'tree') and gluing them on an old wooden block. Create a unique picture by rolling the dice and incorporating what it says into your picture.
    Shared drawing
  • Shared drawing: If you have two or more people, have one person begin to draw a picture. After a set period of time (for example one minute), pass the paper to the other person and they continue drawing for another minute. Continue for a set period of time oor until you both decide the drawing is complete.
  • Pattern drawing: Decide on a single shape or pattern, such as a triangle or squiggly line, and challenge yourself to draw a complete picture using only that.
  • Eyes closed: Imagine a picture you want to draw. With your eyes closed, draw the picture the way you imagine. Open your eyes when you think it's complete and see how accurately it turns out - you may be in for a funny surprise.
  • Book inspiration: Choose a favorite character or scene from a book and use the details the author describes to try to make a realistic drawing.
  • Hidden pictures: Create a scene with small, hidden pictures throughout. At the side, create a small guide that represents the hidden pictures, and have a friend or family member see if they can find all the images you've hidden.
  • Common object inspiration: Grab a common household object, like a clothes hanger or spoon. Challenge yourself to create a drawing incorporating that shape.
  • Model drawing: Create something out of legos, blocks, clay, k'nex, or other materials, then try to re-create a drawing of what you've made.
  • Photo drawing fun: Choose two photos (from a family photo collection, magazine, or book) and create a drawing that uses images from both.
  • Think beyond the paper: Try drawing on a different material than paper. Find household items like a coffee filter, piece of aluminum foil, or paper plate and see how well you can draw on it.
  • Clipboard prompts: Be ready to draw whenever the mood strikes by placing clipboards around the house stocked with paper and a sticky note with a creative drawing prompt on each one. These can as simple as you want - such as something from the future, a drawing of food, a picture of a beach or landscape - or more specific, such as a certain animal, place, or person.

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.

Creative Drawing Ideas for Kids