Resources to help my five-year-old artist

  • I know many of us here are parents, and I wondered what advice you all might have in regards to helping kids who show an aptitude for art.

    My five-year-old daughter is very interested in drawing. It’s not unusual for her to draw for two or three hours in a day. She also has a good eye for details and a pretty good understanding of how things look when transferred to a page. I think she has a real talent, and I’m kind of shocked by it sometimes.

    I want to support her as well as I can because I remember how meaningful it was for me to have an aunt and uncle who supported my artistic interests when I was growing up. They always made sure I had quality supplies, so that’s one thing I’m tying to do for her, within our means.

    But aside from that... do you know of quality resources for helping kids learn to draw? She’s not into those “draw this picture by using these simple steps” books. It would be great if there was something more geared towards meaningful concepts like composition, breaking things into simple shapes, light and shadows, etc. for small children, but I haven’t come across it. (Basically SVS for kids? 🙂 )

    Secondly, do you have ideas for projects or lessons I can do with her to help her learn more about drawing or painting? You’d think I’d be able to be more creative in that regard, but I’m struggling.

    Here’s some of her work.




    Thank you for the advice!

  • @KathrynAdebayo I'd say to keep it fun. At this age, art should be about playing and exploring. Giving her art supplies with no agenda for how she should use them is a great idea. Give her some clay and slowly step back 🙂 Also, if you live near an art museum they sometimes have kid events where they can dive into art projects. We're lucky to live near RISD, but haven't taken advantage of their art museum nearly enough. She's definitely skilled, and lucky to have you encourage her!

  • SVS OG

    I agree with @Laurel-Aylesworth that at this age, lots of materials, encouragement, and and time to play is the best. When I was 10, my Dad bought me a "How to Cartoon" book because he had noticed I liked to draw and I think the fact that he noticed my love of drawing was as important as the book.

  • Wow, 5 years old? She seems very advanced for her age. I don't know of many resources to help kids draw, but I do personally try to help my kids notice how to break down the world around them into simple shapes. Not all the time, but every once in a while and I keep it very casual. For example on walks or if we're sitting around the house we'll sometimes play "spot the 3D shapes" game. We'll pick an object and pick which 3d shape it's most like, and then maybe describe it a little more. Example:

    Me: Hey, what about that tree?
    Kid: Oh, it's kinda like a cylinder.
    Me: Yeah, and what about the top, leafy part?
    Kid: Maybe like a sphere, except squished and a little lumpy.


    Kid: What about that bench?
    Me: It's like a cuboid. Oh, look how we can see the top? That's cause we're looking down at it. If we laid down on the ground and looked at it, we wouldn't be able to see the top plane of it any more.

    Then sometime's I'll point out one thing I'm doing when we're drawing together.

    I figure it might help them with drawing down the road. Who knows.

  • I agree, give her the tools and let her do her thing. But also, expose her to different art and artists, following her queue. There are books for kids for example or takings her to museums. I have a little cousin like that who became fascinated with Frida Kahlo at a very young age and it really inspired her

  • Moderator

    Mark Kistler. The secret city show. and The Imagination Station. He also has some newer stuff. He has some books as well, but you can't beat the shows.

    They're kids drawing shows, he shows shape, lighting/shadow, form, character creation etc, and fun ways to play with it. I was addicted to his show when I was a little kid. He is a fun guy, so I doubt they would be bored. "pencil powerrrrrr!"

  • Moderator

    Also, observation to start building that visual library. What does she like right now? Animals? Maybe watch some fun animal shows like Zoboomafoo. Books with photos of animals. Go to the zoo.

  • Lakeshore has a portfolio for kids. I bought one for a 4 yr old and she loved it. It's coloful and nicely made. I think it's called My keepsake portfolio. Also, there is a kids drawing book titled, Art for kids by Kathryn Temple, but she might be a little young for it. I would say it might be more appropriate for 7+.

  • My daughter draws so much too and she's 5 as well! Our house is overflowing with all her drawings and sketchbooks. I'd say offer all kinds of art supplies and opportunities to learn at art museum events and drawing together would be very beneficial to you and her! My daughter asks me how I draw things and then copies me. She also gives me some of the most valuable feedback on my paintings.

  • Maybe you can try to make a picture book together with her. You could make a 32pages blank sketchbook, and fill in with drawings and words, one spread at a time. I think it might work to just keep asking what happens next when she finishes a spread, till the pages run out. I never did this, but I can not wait to try this when my daughter is 5. She is about 3, and sometimes she pretends that she is making a comic book. (She drew figures from time to time, but mostly just abstract doodles.).

    I try very hard to avoid saying things like "oh, your drawing is really good." Instead, I just ask "was it fun to paint?". I want her to focus on the process, not the result of making a good drawing.

  • @KathrynAdebayo That's fantastic work especially for her age! 😃 I have a five and an eight year old that I'm always trying to think of things to introduce them to artistically too. Would love to see what folks suggest

  • Hi there! What a great artist you already have.
    I teach kindergarten in Australia 3-6year olds.
    Our focus generally is very open and engaging process over product, but I do know how some children really really engage well with project work and love outcomes.

    We have done things like chosen a book - a favourite being ‘No David’ by David Shannon and replicated the shapes used to make their own David’s. Then once they had confidence in crafting a person type shape (we build images with basic shapes and it helps with mathematical language eg above, below, half, small, large, wide etc), then we made our own pages or if David was at kinder what would we not want him to do (which of course they thought was amazing. He of course was forgetting to use to toilet etc- children 😂)

    Choosing books with illustrations and varied mediums is so fun to explore- hungry caterpillar tissue paper collage type work etc.

    There would actually be some svs learn classes some of my older students that love art would probably enjoy watching. They may not ‘get’ it all but no doubt it would inspire them.

    We play games too like ‘finish this squiggle’ or ‘add to mine and I’ll addd to yours etc’ - drawing games.

  • @TessaW great stuff 🙂

  • SVS OG

    Does anyone know some good apps for drawing for a 9 year old who loves art?

  • @KathrynAdebayo Really good! 🙂 My two sons draw really well too. Usually we draw together on holidays and document our adventures. At home I try to draw in my sketchbook and not only in photoshop and thats when they join too. So for me its all about fun and thats when they learn most.

  • @Laurel-Aylesworth Thank you, Laurel. You brought the essence of it to light, I think. I’ve been encouraged by two different artist friends to be proactive about helping her learn, but I think you’re right. It should stay fun for sure. I also love the museum idea. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your advice!

  • @demotlj Hi Laurie, thanks so much for your advice. I love the reminder that the spirit behind my attention to her interest can be meaningful to her. At least, that’s what I took away from your post. 🙂

  • @TessaW Hi Tessa, wow, I love the examples you shared. The “name the 3D shapes” game sounds so fun. 🙂 I love the thought that learning to see and identify shapes and the way they sit in space can be a casual, impromptu experience. Thanks so much for your advice!

  • @KathrynAdebayo hey I have a four year old and he’s not interested in art at all but one thing I found that does gain traction is textures. Finding something that will make cool textures when you roll it on paper with paint. It gets them thinking about things. So for my son we use his trucks and the tires make cool tracks. Other things like slicing an apple in half and making stamps basically. I think at this age what’s best is to keep their interest for learning in mind and how to keep it creative and get them to take the risks that making art requires. They’ll develop in their own ways later on but for this age it’s fun to experiment over creating the final product. So colours and what happens when we mix them and dripping colours into water mixed with oil. I’d just look up artsy experiments and you already sound so supportive so totally keep that up because it’s amazing when people aren’t focused on the end game.

  • @teresaro Thank you so much for your advice... I needed that reminder to let her be drawn to her own sources of inspiration by exposing her to many artists and styles. We actually tried the museum idea today and went to see an exhibit about da vinci. Thanks again!

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