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From scribbles to stick figures to complete characters with arms, legs, hands, and feet, children learn to draw per a series of precise steps. As is the case for all other developmental spheres, drawing helps children experiment, create, and learn. In this text, I would like to explore character drawings.
Once again, the steps and stages surrounding the evolution of children's character drawings are not etched in stone. Each child's drawings evolve per his rhythm which is influenced by several factors: the number of drawing experiences, access to drawing material, perception of his body, and spatial representation. Children who are given numerous opportunities to practice will see their character drawings evolve and improve at a much faster rate.
Step 1: The simple stick figureThe simple stick figure involves a circle with arms and legs attached to the head. It can sometimes look a lot like a sun. The eyes, nose, and mouth may or may not be present.
Step 2: The intermediate characterThis is in fact an advanced version of the simple stick figure. More details are present. Its legs are longer and its arms are sometimes attached to the legs. The body still isn't present. Facial details are more and more present.
Step 3: The body appearsA second circle will appear, under the head. It is the character's body. The arms and legs will be attached to the body. Hands, feet, and fingers may now be added. More and more details may also be observed on the character's head (face, hair, etc.).
Step 4: The 2.0 characterChildren's character drawings are more and more complete. Arms and legs are wider and additional details can be observed.
Of course, these steps and stages are not clear-cut. Children's drawings may be somewhat disorganized or disproportionate. For example, they may draw a character that is larger than a house. The colors used may not always be realistic either and many body parts may continue to be absent. Body parts may also be disproportionate. Often, for example, children draw fingers that are much bigger than the hand. All these elements will gradually be refined as children continue to practice.
Obviously, practice rhymes with experimentation. How can you help children? How can you make learning to draw characters fun? Here are a few suggestions:
Drawing in a platter. Line the bottom of a baking sheet or platter with flour or sugar. Encourage children to use the tip of their finger or a Popsicle stick to draw a character. When they are done, sweep the flour or sugar with your hand or a small brush and repeat.
Dry-erase boards. Make your own by laminating large pieces of cardboard with adhesive paper. Give each child a different color maker and encourage them to draw a different body part.
Scissor skills. Provide several magazines. Invite children to cut out different body parts and use them to create a character. This can be a group or individual project.
Body part die. Use a large die and stick a picture representing a different body part on each side. Children take turns rolling the die and adding the corresponding body part to their drawing.
Different drawing positions/tools: Who says crayons and paper must necessarily be used sitting on a chair and at a table? Encourage children to draw when they are lying down on the floor, on paper taped to a wall, under a table, etc. Provide a variety of tools such as crayons, paint, wood pieces, etc.
Keep in mind that exposing children to a wide range of drawing activities will help maintain their interest.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator
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