One day a week, I teach art lessons to homeschoolers at my kitchen table. In one of the classes, I have several little ones ages 5-6 working on projects at the same time. Even when copying a simple picture, these younger ones often get stuck, not knowing where to begin or how to continue. I’m usually bouncing back and forth between them, pointing out shapes and where they fit in.
For example, if a child was drawing a puppy, I might say, “Look, see this eye? It’s a circle, isn’t it? How many eyes does this puppy have? Let’s put two circles where the eyes would go.”
Sometimes, though, a young child might still be at a loss of what to do next. They want to draw, but they don’t know how to get the pencil going in the right direction. When that happens, I just have them connect the dots. I outline the rest of the child’s picture in dots, placing them close to each other and without any letters or numbers beside them. If the dots are close enough together, even children as young as three can follow them with a pencil. It’s easy enough for them to do, helps improve their fine motor skills, and gives them a great sense of accomplishment for having “drawn” the picture.
While dot pictures have helped my art students in class, they’re great for preschoolers anytime! You can create your own, even if you don’t feel comfortable drawing. Simply place a coloring page under a sheet of copy paper and “trace” the outline in dots. Children love to guess what the pictures are before they begin, and they can even color them in with crayons when they’re finished. And at some point along the way, these young students will become confident enough to move ahead with their drawings on their own.