As children transition from the preschematic stage to the schematic stage, they begin drawing people as heads with torsos and jointed limbs rather than as circles and sticks. Even after the child’s brain is ready to understand representing humans in a more realistic way, they might not know how to show anything other than a person standing still while looking forward. This lesson, adapted from Nancy Beal’s book The Art of Teaching Art to Children, helps students explore a variety of poses kinesthetically.
Students first brainstormed three activities that they liked to do. Many answered basketball, football, and playing outside. They listed three activities on the back of their paper, then picked one to draw. Once that was done, they took 11 small strips of paper and arranged them on a 12 x 18 sheet into a pose showing the activity of their choice. The strips were then glued down and outlined, with details such as hands, feet, facial features, clothing, and backgrounds drawn in with pencil.
While I think it would be ideal if students always tried to come up with ideas on their own rather than making duplicates of an example, I believe it’s also important to give students the choice to copy an image if they want to. Drawing especially can test people’s confidence, but allowing them to copy an example when trying something new can help them become comfortable enough with the general concepts to take a leap of faith and draw freely later on.
Wow, I can’t even draw like that now…
—A fifth grader admiring the work in the showcase
Below is the other example (besides the ballerina) that I made to show students this type of drawing at different stages.
Besides helping students learn how to draw people in different poses, this lesson helped them spread out on the page–something small children often have trouble doing. The paper strips technique made for many fun, BOLD drawings!