With both my kids, I have often found that a blank piece of paper can be a creativity destroyer, especially when they are younger. My daughter often struggles to decide what to draw or paint on it, while my youngest will often just get frustrated as he can not create the image that he has in his head and then he walks away. I do try to sit with both of them to work through this. I make suggestions to my daughter for possible subject matter and I will often try to help my son draw his picture but on these occasions we focus on our drawing or painting skills and often their creativity is left behind while we try to get our images right.
However I have noticed on the days when I give them a template as a starting point their creativity will often take off. Once they do not need to worry about creating the basic image they seem to spend all their energy on “decorating it” or turning the image into how they think it should look. These templates can be anything. I often start drawing a picture for them so they can complete it, or we download a basic colouring picture from the internet or we just find an outline of a shape. Often being presented with a piece of paper that already has something on it just seems to reduce that fear of not being able to create the image and instead they relax and get creative.
This last week we have been using a basic tree template and the results have been superb. Both my kids and my friends children have enjoyed using the template. The template that we used is from Twinkl Platinum- A4 tree outline (we have used this template before for Spring trees ).
Both my kids and two of their friends had a fun time making some autumn trees with some dyed pasta (I dyed it the afternoon before with some food colouring and a bit of vinegar in a zip lock bag and then left it out to dry over night). We ended up with lots of different trees.
The kids had so much fun with this that I thought I would set up another tree activity using the same template and some contact paper on our glass doors. I first stuck the tree template on the glass doors and then covered it with the contact paper (so the sticky side was facing the kids). The idea being that the kids could choose anything from a tray of goodies to stick onto the contact paper to make their own tree.
Both kids enjoyed this. This is also a great activity for sensory kids. I remember the first time we tried an activity like this with contact paper, my daughter would barely touch it, now she loved it.
And as often happens these days after my daughter has done a few of the activities with the template she asked for an extra copy and went and sat quietly in the kitchen. When I peeked in I noticed she was tracing over the tree template. As somebody who draws myself I truly believe that encouraging young kids to trace over well proportioned templates is a great activity. By tracing over an existing drawing they are learning about the proportions and the shapes and how it all fits together. It may seem like a simple activity, or even a cheat, but it really helps your brain figure out how the elements of the picture all fits together. (And it is great for pencil control and for getting young kids to engage their helping hand).
And then she started added some colour. We have been experimenting a lot lately with using two different shades of the same colour when she colours in a picture. I love that she applied the same idea here without me even having to suggest it.
The pencils that my daughter used are the STABILO Woody pencils. We love these pencils. I probably bought them around 3 years ago when a friend recommended them. They are great for little hands as they are thick and easy to hold, the lead is soft so if your kids are battling with pencil pressure they work superbly and as my daughter is doing in the above picture if you dip them in water they become water-colour pencils. We splurged and bought the kids the box of 18 colours (affiliate link) and I am so glad that we did they are one of the most loved and most used pencils on our house.