Does your first grader love to draw and color? Is he a little less thrilled about reading? Here's a project that'll encourage your young artist to read. In this activity, make reading part of the creative process by inviting your child to read directions on colors, numbers, and shapes in order to create cool pictures. This activity will help your child improve his reading comprehension skills while putting his artistic talents to use!
What You Do:
- Write the following set of directions on the index cards, one direction per card. When you are done, put all the cards into the small box with the crayons, drawing paper, and glue.
- "Draw a long snake. Color it. Give it a long tongue. Draw a fly on its tongue. Draw a large rock by its tail."
- "Draw a bug. Color six legs on it. Make five dots on its body. Draw tall, green grass all around your bug."
- "Draw a man. Draw a hat on his head. Draw a coat on the man. Color his pants two colors. Make one shoe black and one shoe green. Draw a long, black cane in one hand."
- "Draw a tall tree. Color the leaves different colors. Draw a blue bird by the tree. Draw a little boy playing with a ball by the tree. Make the boy’s ball red and blue."
- "Draw a rocket ship. Color the top of the rocket ship one color. Color the rest of the rocket ship another color. Draw fire coming out of the back of rocket ship. Draw ten stars in the sky. Make a moon in the sky. Draw a face on the moon."
- "Draw a large circle with a big 'X' in the middle. The four ends of the 'X' should touch the circle. Draw someone you like in one part of the circle. Draw your favorite animal in another part of the circle. Draw your favorite food in another part of the circle. Draw yourself in the last part of the circle."
- "Draw a large square. Draw a small square on top of it. Draw two long rectangles that touch the bottom of the large square. Draw two rectangles that touch the left and right sides of the large square. You are making a robot. Add eyes and a mouth. Add other things to make your robot special."
- Be creative and make up your own!
- Let your child pick a card from the box and read the instructions on it. When he finds a picture he likes the sound of, have him glue the card to the bottom half of a piece of drawing paper.
- After gluing the card down, encourage him to draw the picture according to the directions on the card on the top half of the same drawing paper.
- Repeat this process until all the pictures have been drawn.
- Every artist likes to be appreciated, so when you're finished, find a way to display your child's artwork! Create an "art gallery" with the drawings on a wall or refrigerator, for instance, or invite him to put them together into a book and link two or three pictures together into a story.
While this activity sounds simple, reading and following written directions is a complex skill—your child has to decode the words, understand the directions, then turn them into pictures! This process of "seeing" images from text, or visualization, is a strategy good readers use every time they read, and this activity is a good opportunity for your child to practice his visualization skills.
Victoria Hoffman, MA Teaching and Leadership, is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.