Sample Activity

Drawing with Crayons

Young children are active learners who learn through play. Drawing is play with line, color, placement, form, symbol, and image. The beginning of almost all works of art involves the use of line, one of the basic components of art. Lines are the foundations for shape and form. They can be straight, curvy, wavy, skinny or fat. Lines can be made with the specific purpose of conveying movement. Ideas for drawing are endless.

Teacher's Role
Teachers can make sure that basic art materials are readily available as a choice to support learning. Activities can be extended by providing additional materials and knowledge. Teachers can foster and stimulate interest by introducing art materials at other play centers, such as dramatic play. Crayons and other drawing tools can be used to change the dramatic play area into an artist's studio. Teachers can also foster children's perceptive and reflective knowledge and skills by engaging them in informal discussions about their work, by displaying art reproductions, by arranging trips to an art museum, by inviting adult artists to the classroom to demonstrate their work, and by making books with quality drawings available to children.

When participating in this activity, children will:

  • track and manipulate concrete objects;
  • acquire an interest in mark-making and drawing;
  • observe peers and adults exploring drawing materials;
  • increase fluency and flexibility with a visual art tool and develop fine motor skills.
  • extend peer and adult interaction;
  • inquire about and discover new techniques using crayons;
  • increase mark-making, symbol drawing, and emergent writing;
  • use skills with drawing tools to represent learning in many ways;
  • apply skills with drawing tools to new situations.
Materials needed
  • Large crayons (without the paper wrapper)
  • A variety of paper, including newsprint, white drawing, or construction paper. Children should have the opportunity to draw with different sizes and textures of paper. Larger paper allows children maximum use of arm movements.
Children develop symbols through hands-on experiences. Therefore, drawing and mark-making tools need to be available and accessible to children so they may become familiar with and explore the media. Invite children to explore materials with you. Model and demonstrate making marks on your paper. Encourage using soft and hard pressure with the crayon on the paper, using two crayons together, and using the point, side, and end of the crayon. As you make soft or hard marks on your paper, verbally describe what you are doing. Say something like, "When I rub real hard, the marks are strong and bright. When I move my arm around and around, the marks on the paper also go around and around." Be available to facilitate and model interaction with materials, providing children with opportunities to explore, to compare their understanding of the world, and to apply the knowledge they have gained. Follow the child's lead and verbally describe the child's actions and resulting marks. "When you make your arm go up and down, your lines go up and down on the paper. Show me how you did that." Encourage exploration with a variety of whole arm movements and wrist movements. Young children, especially those in the sensory motor stage, will not see the paper as being separate from the rest of their drawing environment. Drawing marks will often go off the paper. A washable drawing surface works best for easy cleaning after the drawing activity.

Many children enjoy using the point of the crayon to make dots. Do not be concerned about the noise level and the wear and tear on the crayons during this activity. This is a natural process of the learning cycle and making dots can be used to explore movement and sound. It may be beneficial to have the children change the beat or rhythm of their dot making. This can be done by saying, "Let's make our dots softly." Other ways to explore dot making areby saying, "Let's see what happens when we make our dots fast (slow, hard, or soft)."

Many adaptations are available if the child's grip is limited. You can tape together two or three crayons, use chubby stump crayons or sure-grip crayons. Other options include fitting the crayon with a type of adaptive grip device or using an adaptive grip device that straps to the child's hand.

Crayon stubs and broken pieces can be placed in separate sections of a muffin pan and melted in a warm oven to create large circular crayon chips. Children with limited grips can grasp the crayon chip with the entire hand and the classroom has a new variety of crayon shapes to use.

Drawing activities take two hands, one to hold the paper while the other uses the drawing tool. Masking tape at the corners of the paper can help keep it in place while drawing.

Try using sandpaper, felt sheets, or corrugated paper for the child with visual disabilities. These will provide texture and friction that will create sound as the child draws.

Dark colors (black, brown, purple, or blue) make high contrast marks on white paper. Using these colors can benefit children with visual disabilities.

Computer Software Applications
The computer can be used as a different type of drawing tool, with the children exploring each program's features. The following are computer software that includes draw programs for use with a TouchWindow, or a mouse.

  • Macintosh or PC compatible
    • ArtSpace (Macintosh only)
    • EA*Kids Art Center
    • Kid Pix
Updated 9/25/02.