Why Directed Drawing is Awesome for the Classroom

I teach 3rd grade in Georgia. If you live in Georgia or have done any research about education in Georgia, you would have heard about the Georgia Milestones. This daunting test keeps all of us motivated and on overdrive to get all of the standards taught with precision.

One of my favorite things about teaching elementary school is being able to do all types of fun craft and/or art projects. The kids LOVE it and it’s so much fun. Last year, I taught all subject areas. I integrated arts + crafts into math and science on a consistent basis for the entire duration of the year. To be honest, the content that I taught with art integrated was significantly more “sticky” for the students. They GOT IT.

This year, I solely teach reading/ELA. I have loved this experience. I’ve tried to integrate art into my curriculum as much as possible…. but it isn’t QUITE as easy as it was for math/science/SS. I suppose that last year I didn’t realize how difficult it is to consistently make the lessons “sticky” in reading via art. The students are all on SO MANY different levels and have such a wide variety of needs that finding something a mainstream activity that is appropriate for all students has been challenging — but certainly not impossible!

One of my FAVORITE things that I have done this year to integrate art into my curriculum is directed drawing.


Directed drawing is a step-by-step activity that leads students to produce a piece of work that is intended to look a certain way. What I love about directed drawing is that it helps give students a foundation for how shapes work together to create something larger.


Yes, yes, yes. Of course we do. However, if you do this with one of your classes you will see that each and every one comes out SO DIFFERENT, yet so much the same.

Here is a link to an INCREDIBLE website full of directed drawing activities.

Using Directed Drawing in the Classroom

Around Easter time, I completely dropped the ball and forgot to schedule an Easter Egg Hunt decided to do a really fun Directed Drawing + writing assignment instead of doing an Easter Egg Hunt! The kids were completely excited.

THE ACTIVITY: I had the students do this great drawing from The Proud to be Primary Blog. It was SO easy to follow. I used my Apple TV to stream the images step by step so my students could see what they were supposed to do. I also did this with them and showed them my drawing step-by-step.

I don’t have watercolor paints in my room… and they are quite expensive if you don’t catch them on sale (to buy a class set… or even a 1/2 class set). SO, my mom told me this really great trick! We took tempera paint and watered it down BIG time. Then, the kids used it as watercolors! It came out great!

TYING IT INTO THE STANDARDS: I had the students write a imaginative narrative about their bunny. It was simple, quick, and the students thought it was fun. Also, we haven’t touched on narratives since September so it was a great review. I required my students to include all of the following in their stories:

  • ELAGSE3W3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
    • a. Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
    • b. Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations.
    • c. Use temporal words and phrases to signal event order.
    • d. Provide a sense of closure.

    We had so much fun with our bunnies. I hung them in the hall and the students were BEGGING to take them home.

    A few weeks later we did a Frog Directed Drawing. Instead of using paint, we used crayons and it was even FASTER than our bunnies!

One comment

  1. renee says:

    Thanks for the link–I am excited to try directed drawing with my two girls. And I will be as glad as my 4th grade daughter will be when the Milestones test are over; i think the last day is April 21st 🙂

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