Right now my 4-6th grade students are working on either the Jr. Duck Stamp program or a drawing for Kansas Critters: Bugs. All of my 1-3rd grade students are working on Duck Stamp drawings. After talking to the other elementary art teachers in my district, I decided to do a follow the leader drawing with my Kindergarten students to give them some confidence in their drawing abilities and good practice for Duck Stamp drawings next year.
I let each class vote on learning to draw either a Mallard Duck or a Canada Goose. I taped a large piece of paper to the wall where all the students could see and used a sharpie for my drawing. Each student was given a 9x6 inch piece of paper and a pencil to start with. The papers were turned horizontally. I always like to start with the head when I draw a duck or a goose and encourage the students to do the same. Of course when they are drawing totally on their own, a few will always start with the feet and run out of room for the head.
After the outline of the bird, the beak/bill and eye, and a few lines were drawn for the wings and tail, I had the students put their pencils away and find one color of crayon at a time. We all finished the body of the bird together with crayon to make them look realistic. As realistic as Kindergarten drawings get anyway!
While I went around the room and wrote names on papers, I let the students add water or any other details they wanted to.
My philosophy of Art Education is still developing. I try to give the students a lot of different experiences. While part of me wants to just let them be free and make everything on their own, no limits to their creativity, I know that there are other skills I want to help them develop. I guess I'm just trying to balance everything right now. I want to help the students develop their observational skills and paying attention to details and I still give them as many opportunities for "free draw" as I can.
Daniel Pink was the Key Note Speaker at the Kansas Art Education Association fall conference this year. Something he mentioned during his talk was that some universities have been taking their Med students to Art Museums where they discuss paintings to develop their observational skills. I like to tell this to my students as a way to point out skills they learn in art class will serve them for the rest of their lives.