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of a Kindergarteners Drawing

An Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing
Abigail Jozwiakowski
University of Missouri-Columbia

Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing

The arts are important because they serve as a window into understanding

students thinking. As Eisner says, The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said
(2002, p.3). Sometimes children are unable to express their thoughts and feelings. For
example, if a younger or struggling child has not acquired the language. Through visual
artwork they are able to express the words they are unable to find. Further visual text,
drawings, and literacy can be helpful in making students learning more meaningful and
extending students thinking. If students are learning a history lesson on Native Americans,
creating artwork similar to those of the Native Americans can add more meaning to the
lesson. It can also extend students thinking as they use creativity and the right side of their
brain to create artwork. Keeping this in mind, educators using art integration need to be
supportive of the creative process and artistic development in each individual child.

According to Luehrman and Unrath (2006) the stage theory of artistic development,

describe[s] characteristic milestonesand explain[s] how the majority of children

progress in a similar way through a developmental sequence (p.66). Brittain and
Lowenfield (1970) provide detailed explanations of each stage. In the first stage, The
Scribbling Stage, Two-Four Years, children are still exploring with drawing characteristics
and human figure and space representation. It is hard to identify what they are drawing
without listening to them describe it. In the Preschematic Stage, Four-Seven Years, the
drawings become clearer as known objects are drawn and less scribble appears on the
page. In the Schematic Stage, Seven-Nine Years, childrens drawings begin to reflect their
knowledge of their environment. In the Gang Age: Nine-Twelve Years students drawings
are more detailed and students may begin to become self-conscious of their drawings. In
the Pseudo-Naturalistic Stage, Twelve-Fourteen Years students are aware of their

Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing

strengths and weaknesses in drawing and have developed their own style. Lastly, in the
Adolescent Art, Fourteen-Seventeen Years, drawings are characterized by purposeful
Luehrman and Unrath (2006) argue, stage theory concepts should not be rigidly
interpreted, but rather flexibly referenced as a general guide (p. 68). While these stages
aid educators in helping determine the artistic ability and characteristics of childrens
drawing, it is important to note that each individual child develops at their own pace. These
stages are flexible; a child may exhibit a milestone characteristic in one stage and another
milestone characteristic in another stage. After conducting an interview and analysis of my
kindergarteners drawing, I can identify the stage of artistic development I believe my
kindergartner exemplifies. Moreover, as a teacher I have learned how to support my
students in their artistic development while integrating age-appropriate art projects into
other curriculum areas.

For this study I asked a kindergarten student Jessica (pseudonym) to draw me a

picture of one of her favorite memories. I selected Jessica because she loves to create
artwork at the after-school program I work at. I set a 15-minute timer and I recorded
observations on my iPad while I watched and listened as Jessica drew her picture and
described what she was drawing. I asked Jessica questions along the way such as Why did
you choose to use this specific color? and Whom are you representing here? so she could
further elaborate on her drawing.

Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing


Jessica chose to draw a scene in which her mother was pregnant with her baby

brother. She informed me she chose to draw this because her favorite memory is when her
baby brother was born. First, Jessica drew her self in the center of the paper. She chose to
use the purple felt-tip marker because this is her favorite color. Then Jessica drew her
mother below her in the corner of the page. Jessica picked the colors red and orange to use
to draw her mother because those are her moms favorite colors. She also drew her brother
in red in her mothers stomach. After this, Jessica swirled her marker on the page to draw
grass with a green felt-tip marker. Jessica then repeated this same motion as she drew the
sky with a blue felt-tip marker. Next, she drew the sun in the sky. She began by drawing a
yellow circle and then adding orange rays to the circle with yellow and orange felt-tip
markers. Lastly, Jessica asked me to add the word Red to her drawing because she said,
this color is how I am feeling (personal communication, September 29th, 2016). When I

Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing

asked her to further explain what she meant by this she said that the color red reminds her
of happiness.

While Jessica drew her picture, I learned a lot about her thinking, personality, and

artistic abilities. First, through our conversation, I gained insight in Jessicas thought
processes. Jessica chose realistic colors to represent the setting of the drawing: the grass,
sky, and sun. However, the colors she chose to represent her mother, baby brother, and self
were vibrant and abstractnot typically the colors you would choose to represent
someone. Instead, the colors reflected her emotions and feelings about whom she was
drawing. By choosing the color red (her mothers favorite color) to represent her mother,
this also showed Jessicas thoughtfulness and attention to detail. As a teacher, this is helpful
to know that Jessica is very thoughtful of others as I plan group work activities and/or
productive partnerships. Also, I learned that Jessicas family is very important to her which
could as a teacher help me better understand Jessica values.
I believe that Jessica represented herself so largely in the center of the drawing
because Jessica is in the early stages of representing two objects together in a drawing.
Burton says that often times in the early stages, the inclusion of [2] objects together
usually revolves around the themes such as me, mine, or things I like doing (1980, p. 3).
Jessica drew her mother looking up at Jessica, and Jessica in the sky, as if all the attention
was on her. In completing this task, I also believe that Jessica is mostly in the Preschematic
stage of artistic development. Jessica demonstrated multiple characteristics of this stage.
First, in Jessicas drawing, objects seem to float around the page (Brittain & Lowenfeld,
1970, p. 475). Jessica seems be floating around in the sky on the page. Jessicas
mother/brother may be on the ground, but that is not clearly established. Likewise,

Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing

Distortion and omission of parts [of human figures] is expected (Brittain & Lowenfeld,
1970, p. 475). Jessica portrays herself with arms but no hands, no nose, and her mother
with no arms. And finally, the sizes of the objects are not proportionate to one another.
Jessicas head is the same size of as the sun. I think that Jessica is slowly transitioning into
the Schematic stage as she clearly began to establish a baseline (the grass) and the skyline.
Through the analysis of Jessicas drawing I was able to gain insight into her
personality as well as her thinking. Teachers understanding of childrens artistic
development and meaning making gives teachers a better chance to get to know their
students thinking, personalities, and abilities in the classroom. This understanding of
artistic development is also beneficial for students because they are able to express their
thoughts and emotions through creative artwork.
After completing this analysis I now have a greater understanding of how to support
my future students artistic development in the classroom. I know that each student
develops artistic abilities at their own pace and its important to allow children to develop
these on their own, rather than interfering and correcting their drawings and negatively
affecting their artistic development. I will plan lessons that include art integration that is
supportive of the artistic development levels of all my students, further adding meaning to
my students experiences and learning. One example of how I may do this is through a
history lesson. If my students are learning about the revolutionary war, at the end of the
unit I could have my students could draw the 3 most important events or people in the
revolutionary war. This is assessing students learning as they remember what they have
learned. As well as extending students thinking because choosing which events are most

Analysis of a Kindergarteners Drawing

important (practicing summarizing main pointsa reading strategy!). Educators need to

support artistic development and create lesson plans that integrate artistic activities.
Through the arts students are able to celebrate multiple perspectives, problem-solve,
engage in critical thinking, use their imagination and much more. As Eisner (2009) says,
Imagination is the source of new possibilities (p.25). By supporting students artistic
development and providing lessons with art integrating allowing students to use their
imagination, students will be more successful and engaged in the classroom.


Burton, J. (1980). Visual Events. Developing Minds. 1-9

Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind. New Haven, CT: Yale
Eisner, E. (2009). What Education Can learn from the Arts. Art
Education.62(2), 22-25.
Lowenfeld, V., & Brittain, W. L. (1970). Creative and Mental Growth. New
York: Macmillan.
Luehrman, M., & Unrath, K. (2006). Making Theories of Childrens Artistic
Development Meaningful for Pre-service Teachers. Art Education. 59(3), 6-12