How to Get Your Kids into Drawing
Drawing is great for kids' creative, fine motor, and social development....but how do you get them into it?
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Okay, so let's just throw it out there: I'm not an artist.
Like, anywhere close.
I have amazing artists in my family. Both my cousin and my grandma are both actual, "people pay them money to paint stuff" artists. I have no idea where that artistic ability went when it came to my specific genes.
*tumbleweed rolls by as I draw stick figures*
That said, art is incredibly important for kids' development. It helps them:
- Gain fine motor skills
- Process their world and their emotions in a safe way
- Increases neural development
- Fosters problem-solving skills
- Furthers self-expression skills
- Encourages social skills
- Modulates sensory input and processing
- Keeps them entertained, happy, and busy
Yeah, maybe I should have devoted a little more of my formative years to drawing...
However, not all kids are born Picassos.
Encouraging Art in Non-Artistic Kids
If your kids aren’t quite the creative type or simply lack motivation, games are a great way to get them into drawing.
These drawing games are also perfect if you’re looking for a quiet activity to keep them entertained at home. Most don’t require more equipment than a pencil and paper and are pretty much no muss no fuss.
IMPORTANT: A Quick Note to Perfectionist Parents
I am one of you.
Hear me now: Your kids will not make good art (usually).
It will look like a balloon animal made out of a coat hanger, painted by an elephant on meth. They will then proceed to tell you that it's a picture of the family dog and you will have to smile and positively reinforce them. That is okay.
This is not about winning art. There is no winning art. This is about letting them draw whatever they want, however badly they want, with no judgment or instruction.
It will take every fiber of self-restraint you have not to try to get them to paint/draw "better", but really just let them suck. Toddlers will paint until the paint runs out with no thought to subject matter, little kids are in a world of their own creation anyway, and teens just looooooove hearing your opinions on stuff. So unless they ask for help, do just zip your parental facehole and let them draw however (badly) they want.
Games to Get Kids Engaged in Art
Okay, with that disclaimer out of the way, let's get going with some fun, low-pressure ways you can get your kids drawing with little-to-no effort and/or supplies.
Pictionary, there’s a reason why it’s a classic. It’s fun for all the family and you can play in pairs or even a large group. All you need is a category in mind and you can compete to guess each other’s creations.
If you’re stuck for ideas you can use a Pictionary words generator online. You can even select the difficulty level.
The Secret Artist
The secret artist is a game with a social aspect. It’s collaborative drawing with a twist.
Kids need to be in groups of at least three to play. The rules are as follows:
- Think of something for them to draw, but only one of them knows what it is.
- The picture is passed around the circle and each player adds a new line each turn. (Remember, only one of them knows what they’re supposed to be drawing.)
- Once the picture is complete they must guess who is “the secret artist”. (And sometimes what the picture even is at all.)
This game is more suitable for older children as the rules are a little more complex. (And sometimes a great degree of "artistic interpretation" is needed to figure out what it is.)
Simon Says Draw
Simon says draw is a creative take on the original game.
Each kid has a pencil and paper and you tell them what to draw by saying “Simon says draw a mouse”, for example. Keep firing instructions at them and then to catch them out, give them one without saying Simon says.
The kids who carry on drawing are then out.
The online game quickdraw in collaboration with Google is perfect if you’re out somewhere without paper.
It’s essentially playing Pictionary with a computer.
Quickdraw is based on a neural network that has the world’s largest doodling data set. This is how it’s able to guess what you’re drawing. The game was actually set up to help with machine learning research, which is pretty cool.
If you need to distract your kids or keep them quiet it’s ideal. It could even work as an easy sick day activity.
Inspired by Nature
Why not make a day of it and take your kids out for a drawing project?
Find a nearby area of natural beauty to explore. You can start with the mindfulness practice of forest bathing. (Just don't let your little monsters get lost in the woods, no matter how tempting the idea may sound.)
Simply walk among the trees and take in all the sights, sounds, and smells. You can then settle in a spot and get them to sketch their favorite plant, tree, or wildlife. There are many benefits of forest bathing for kids. It’s a way to gain a new perspective by getting in touch with nature.
We focus a lot on the basic reading, writing, and math skills that kids will need. (Okay, I may focus on these to an unhealthy degree.) We sometimes forget that kids need a creative outlet too.
If you don't believe me, next time your kid is feeling a particularly strong emotion (this works especially well with toddlers and smaller kids), hand them a pencil and tell them to draw what they're feeling. You'll be shocked both by the outcome and by the next time they draw an emotion without being prompted to do so.
Need the Ultimate Secret Weapon?
Draw with them.
Kids, especially the smaller (read: non-teen) ones, are suckers for parental bonding time. If you really want to get them into drawing, set down your phone, pick up a pencil, and make a complete idiot of yourself drawing the worst dragon (or horse, or shark...whatever) that ever walked the two-dimensional page.
Your kids won't care you don't have art skills. They'll see you enjoying a creative activity even if you don't have two talent points to rub together...and they'll emulate that attitude for years to come.
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About the Author
Founder | Contributor
Liz (or Dr. Mommy, as her toddler started calling her after learning what a PhD was) is the happily sleep-deprived mom of a baby boy (and professional raccoon noise impersonator), a sparkle-clad toddlernado, a teenage stepdaughter, the canine embodiments of Pinky and The Brain, and a rabbit of unusual size. During nights and naptimes, she uses her PhD in business psychology as an author, speaker, and consultant. She also serves as an executive and principal for three companies, two of which she co-founded with her very patient (and equally exhausted) husband.
My Motto: All I can control is how hard I work.
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