Sketching is an activity which knows no age. Both kids and adults benefit from using sketching to bring their ideas to life. Recently I had the opportunity to talk about sketching with my kids’ kindergarten class. I have spoken with adults at meetups and conferences about using the power of sketching to share ideas but the challenge now was to tailor my message for 6-year-old kindergarten students. I began by asking myself, what is the main message about sketching the kids to walk away with? I narrowed down my presentation to the core message, which was talking about the power of sketching to ideate, iterate, and communicate ideas.
Kids love to hear stories so I began with a story I wrote for them. This story included the points I wanted to make about sketching, in a fun and easy to understand way. Here is the story:
Imani And Her Wonderful Treehouse
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Imani. Imani was a curious child and loved reading books. She enjoyed visiting the library with her parents because she got to read books and get new ideas. One day while at the library, she noticed a brand new book about tree houses. In the book, Imani saw many different types of tree houses. There were large tree houses, small tree houses, there were short ones and tall ones. There were all kinds of cool looking tree houses in the book.
The book also included many tree house projects for the readers to build themselves. Imani thought to herself, “What a great idea! I would love to have a tree house in my backyard.” Imani started imagining just how much fun it would be to play in the tree house. She could invite all her friends over and they could play all day long.
On the drive back home from the library, Imani had many ideas for tree houses but she was worried about losing them all. As she was reading the book, she noticed that one of the pages in the book included a handmade drawing of a tree house with labels. This was a sketch of a tree house. The labels pointed to the different parts of a tree house which helped her understand the parts needed for a tree house.
“Aha! I’ll sketch!” she thought to herself. “Sketching looks like a great way to save all my ideas.”
As soon Imani came home, she rushed inside. She picked up her pencil and started sketching all the ideas she had in her head. She sketched and explored each and every idea. Time flew by because she was having so much fun. Imani then noticed something amazing happening right before her eyes. Her ideas were getting better and better. The more she sketched, the better they became. The more she sketched the more she realized exactly what type of tree house she wanted. This was magical!
To help her identify the different parts of the tree house, she started labeling them just like she saw in the book. She labeled the roof, the door, the windows, the stairs, the slides, the ladder and the swing. Labeling helped her keep track of all the important parts she wanted to include in her special tree house.
After she was done sketching, Imani rushed to her mom and dad to show them her sketches. She explained to them why she really wanted a tree house and why building it would be a great activity for the whole family. The labels Imani had included in her sketches helped her parents quickly understand all the parts and the design of the tree house. Her parents were very impressed and decided that this was a great family project they all would work on in the summer.
Imani was really happy that her idea was going to become real. Sketching her ideas, labeling them, and presenting her idea to her mom and dad helped her convince them that this was a great idea. Now she would be able to play all summer long with her friends in her wonderful tree house.
To make sure the children comprehended the story, I asked them these questions:
- What were Imani’s ideas about?
- How did she save all the ideas she had in her head?
- What did she use to sketch her ideas?
- What did she notice when kept sketching?
- How did she identify each part of the tree house?
- How did she persuade her parents to build the tree house?
Time To Sketch
Now that the children had learned how to get ideas from their heads and onto paper through the story, it was time for some hands-on activities to further aid in understanding of the power of sketching.
The activities were broken down into four parts:
Part 1: Warm-up
It’s a great idea to warm up before sketching and to loosen up the muscles involved in sketching. To make this part fun for children, I asked the kids to do some jumping jacks, bend and touch their feet and shake their arms and legs.
Part 2: Ideating
The children were asked to imagine their perfect tree house. What size and shape would it be? What would make it the best tree house in the whole world?
Part 3: Sketching
It was now time to sketch the tree houses. The children were focused and were having a blast getting their ideas out. It was amazing and inspiring to see all the different tree houses being sketched.
Part 4: Labeling
An important part of sketching is labeling. The children were asked to label their tree houses. I sketched an example on the whiteboard for them to see what labeling looks like. Each kid had their own special tree house feature they wanted to make sure I included in the example. There were swimming pools, security cameras, gold plated walls. These were important parts of the tree house that needed to be labeled.
Part 5: Presenting
Using sketching to communicate our ideas is an important part of selling our ideas to others. It was time for the children to present their tree house sketches to their class. One by one they came to the front and talked about the features of their amazing tree house. They shared the reasons their tree house would be the greatest in the whole wide world.
By the end of my talk, I was amazed by all the ideas the children had. They were excited to get their tree house ideas out and share them with their classmates and their teacher. The most important thing I learned from the children that day was to not worry about what others will think about our sketching abilities and to just get the idea out into this world. Children love to draw and sketching is an activity to they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
Until next time, keep on sketching!