Because of the high heat lately, I admit that once the afternoon comes, I am inside my house with the air conditioning on! That's okay, though, because I can always find something to keep me busy! There is so much that I want to do to prepare for the beginning of school and my brain is already preparing the layout of my classroom. I just received my copy of "In Pictures and In Words" by Katie Wood Ray and my mind is going crazy with new ideas! AND if you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I am a firm believer in creating illustrations for writing projects AND my philosophy of draw/create/write is being solidified as I read Ms Ray's book. In her book, Ray writes "Teaching into illustrations asks teachers to understand that when children illustrate, they prewrite (or predraw, perhaps), draft, revise, and edit just as they do when they write, and to value this process equally in this parallel content." That is SO TRUE! When children draw and create FIRST, they are learning to be critical thinkers and editors of their own work! Just like we must crawl before we walk, children must draw before they write! Yea! Validation! :)
When most children enter kindergarten, they already have the skills necessary to hold a pencil. Most know the differences between crayons, markers, and pencils and most have held scissors in their hands and know their purpose. (Thank you, Pre-K teachers!) But, what I have found in my 17 years of teaching kindergarten is that most kiddos really have no idea where to start when they want to draw a picture. The ideas in their heads do not always match the ideas that they put on paper. So at the beginning of the school year, I have a discussion with my kiddos about shapes. We do quite a bit of "shape searching" around the classroom and school grounds. We take clipboards and pencils with us as we begin to look at the world with new eyes. We notice that the trunk of a tree is a rectangle shape and the leaves above it are a cloud shape. We notice that the leaves of a flower are simply a smile and a frown shape touching. We see that the buildings around us are squares and rectangles and triangles.
I know there is discussion between allowing children the freedom to create as they see fit and giving them some guidance as to what steps it takes to draw. I am in the middle ring of these discussions. I think it is important for students to be allowed to show their uniqueness in what they draw and create, but I also believe it is important for children to have some foundational knowledge as to how to simply begin. In my 17 years of teaching kindergarten, I have found that my kiddos KNOW what they want to draw, but do not necessarily know how to get there. Isn't that what happens when we teach them to read? If we did not teach our kiddos foundational reading principals, would they learn to read? If we did not teach the steps to unlocking words, would they pick it up on their own? I have to say that most would struggle with learning to read without our help. I believe the same holds true with drawing. So just as I give my students tools for learning to read and do math, I give them tools for creation of a picture. I show them the steps that they can use to create a picture. Must they follow these steps exactly? Absolutely not! But I do encourage them to follow the steps for awhile; especially at the beginning of the year. Once they start seeing that drawing is just using basic shapes and lines, they start creating pictures that are much better than mine! Because I want them to have experience and practice with other tools than a pencil, I encourage my kiddos to draw their shapes upon colored construction paper, cut out the shapes, and then glue onto white paper. They then use their crayons to add detail to their picture. (If I have a student who just wants to draw and color their picture, I allow them to do this! Following the steps by drawing and coloring is always as option in my classroom.) As this experience progresses through the year, we begin the gradual process of adding words to our pictures; first with labeling, then with sentences. This is such a fun process to watch unfold throughout the year! Drawing, cutting, and writing - hurray!
Here are a few of my Draw, Cut, Write packets. The first one is a freebie. I also bundled PETS, FARM, AND FOREST ANIMALS together. Most of my products involve some kind of drawing and creating; these are just the new ones. Click on the pictures to take you there!
Whew! This was a long post! Thanks for staying with me! :)