If you are a teacher who works with young students in particular, here’s an idea for you to try.

The next time you plan to ask your students to write something… a response to literature… a journal entry… a science observation… anything, have them draw out their ideas first. Much like a more experienced writer might use notes or an outline to capture the ideas they want to include in their writing, fledgling writers can do the same thing by drawing.

I used this technique many times while teaching first graders, and saw firsthand what a powerful tool it was. Frequently, my young students had wonderful ideas and insights that they wanted to express, but with questions like, “Which way does that letter face again?” and “How is that word spelled?”, their ideas would be all but forgotten as they struggled to remember the mechanics of writing. For those students, writing was primarily a frustrating experience. Their unique little thoughts were being lost before they had a chance to get them down on paper. When I asked my students to draw about what they wanted to write first, they could capture their ideas in their drawings, and then refer back to those drawings as they wrote. Almost immediately, the writing my students produced became more complete, detailed, and vivid. Structurally their writing improved as well, because being able to refer back to their “outline” for substance, gave them the freedom to get the mechanics right too.

Of course, a powerful side benefit of this practice is that children love to draw. By connecting the exciting, familiar activity of drawing with the new and potentially intimidating act of writing, the entire experience becomes less scary, and the students feel more confident about their developing skills as writers and communicators.

Want more ideas for including art in your classroom? Click on “courses for credit” or “Fresno Pacific University” at the top of this page to learn more. Thanks for stopping by!

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