7 Fun Drawing Activities to Support Educational Development and Creativity

Drawing activities.

Learning to draw might not feature highly in many people’s list of academic priorities. But is it time we promoted drawing from a ‘fun hobby activity’ to something more powerful?

Drawing can play a notable role in a child’s educational journey. We’ll give 7 example activity ideas, each aligning with a different developmental area.

Anyone can draw!

Drawing is an inclusive and ageless activity, and we shouldn’t limit it to representing objects realistically in two dimensions.

How often have we overheard people say things like “I’m not very good at drawing”? This attitude is often rooted in preconceived ideas about what ‘drawing’ means. When considering it a skill, we might conjure mental images of a perfectly rendered still life with exquisite detail and shading. Perhaps we might envisage a highly technical engineering drawing or architectural plan. The truth is, drawing doesn’t have to look like either of those.

We may be pleasantly surprised if we put some of the technical rules aside for a moment and embrace drawing as a process without judging the outcome too much.

Instead of attempting to recreate scenes that are true to life, an artist might also decide to express themselves freely with mark-making to convey thoughts, feelings, or emotions with little regard for realism. Both methods are valid activities which can be equally rewarding.

How to make drawing fun

Drawing is a fun and fulfilling activity that children of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. Here are some tips and suggestions to help children get involved in the process and get the most out of their efforts.

  • Align the subject matter with their interests – Choose a theme that relates to a hobby or interest such as a favourite film character or video game.
  • Nature drawing – Drawing offers a perfect invitation to get outside and enjoy the environment whilst developing observational skills.
  • Copy – Copying elements or styles from other artworks or artists can help children understand certain techniques. There are also lots of fun YouTube follow-along tutorials on various subjects that can act as a good starting point.
  • Illustrate a story – Get children to draw scenes from a story they’ve read or created. This can also help with comprehension.
  • Collaborative murals – Work on a group-based piece to develop a sense of community and foster teamwork.
  • Use a variety of materials – Don’t limit yourself to pencil and paper. Explore using charcoal, crayons, oil pastels, and more on surfaces and textures other than traditional plain paper.
  • Create a drawing space – Set aside an inspiring, positive environment to work within, with easy access to tools and equipment.
  • Praise effort over outcome – Avoid perfectionism and obsessing over a finished outcome. Praise their effort to encourage a love of art and drawing.

Drawing activity ideas for educational development

1. Drawing what’s not there! Looking at negative spaces.

Many beginner artists have a tendency to draw what they think they see rather than what is actually in front of them. This activity shifts the focus to drawing the spaces around and in between objects.

Imagine you had a houseplant in front of you, for example. Instead of focusing on the individual shapes of the leaves, you would look at the spaces created between them. Think about the outlines of the spaces created between the leaves or the space between the pot’s shape and the scene’s background. The task is to draw these ’empty’ spaces, not the subject itself.

Drawing negative spaces forces us to observe things from a different perspective. It helps us draw a subject accurately, as we get a sense of its scale and proportion in relation to its surroundings.

Using a houseplant for this exercise is an excellent choice because of the interesting variety of shapes in the gaps between the plant’s leaves and stem.

This seemingly simple exercise forces us to look at something anew and gain a deeper understanding of it. It helps us appreciate the unseen spaces that add structure and context to a drawing.

2. Creating patterns.

Drawing patterns and shapes can be a fun and easy way for younger children to develop and improve their fine motor skills.

By repeating simple shapes in a sequence, they can sharpen their hand-eye coordination and pen control.

Once they finish their drawings, they can be coloured in and used as backgrounds for greeting cards or name tags.

Key benefits: Fine motor skills and dexterity.

3. Create a comic strip.

Children can tell a story in a sequentially structured form by creating a comic strip. They will choose a short story or scene to illustrate and present it sequentially in the comic strip panels.

The learning benefits of this activity are multifaceted and include elements of mathematics, storytelling, art and design.

They can begin by planning out their grid and carefully measuring the size of the panels to accommodate the story. They then need to plan out the story, thinking about which scenes to capture visually to represent best what they are trying to say.

When drawing the contents of the panels, children can also consider the visual impact of different contrasts – big and small, light and dark, close up and far away.

Key benefits: Storytelling and articulation of ideas.

4. Room layout design.

In this activity, children are asked to imagine their ideal bedroom or classroom and represent it from above as a design plan.

The task is intended to get them to think about size, scale and spatial relationships of objects. Children will need to think critically about which items go where and how they fit into the space provided.

More able children can measure objects and draw them to scale on grid paper to give a reflection of the room with accurate proportions.

Key benefits: Measuring and spatial awareness.

5. Create a hybrid animal.

Children can use their imaginations to dream up a creature that is a combination of two or more real animals. For example, a creature with the head of an elephant and the body of a fish.

Aside from being a fun, creative exercise, this activity also helps children think about proportions and how they will seamlessly fuse the body parts. It also facilitates some study of animals and their characteristics, which can lead to more detailed research on animals.

Technically, the activity offers the opportunity to explore pattern, shade and texture as they render their animals’ fur, scales or skin.

Key benefits: Ways of thinking/creativity.

6. STEM project journal.

Creating a STEM project journal or log is a great way of engaging children with science and reinforcing learning.

Children create sketches and drawings to accompany a STEM project they are involved in to collect and record data.

It might be a step-by-step guide record of the process, or the journal can act as a means of visually recording project data and outcomes.

Additionally, the drawings in the journal can be annotated to give further clarity and deeper meaning to the sketches. These journals can be an excellent way of demonstrating an understanding of a concept or STEM project.

Key benefits: Data collection, recording and analysis.

7. Drawing music.

Play different styles of music to children and get them to express how it makes them feel or what kind of mental images it conjures up for them.

Drawing to music can also have a calming effect, focusing children’s attention and promoting mindfulness. It’s also a way of combining different senses into one activity – auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (moving).

The abstract nature of the activity makes it easily adaptable for different ages and abilities.

Key benefits: Exploring feeling/emotion. Therapeutic benefits.

Drawing conclusions

Drawing is an incredibly accessible tool that doesn’t require expensive tools or extensive prior knowledge. If you’re already an advocate for the benefits of drawing, great. If not, hopefully, some of these ideas have made the case for considering drawing as another powerful tool in your educational toolkit.

These activities illustrate how drawing can harness some different educational skills, but there are many more we’ve not touched upon here. Drawing requires a degree of focus, for example, which in itself is an incredibly valuable skill to develop. In young children, expression through mark-making and doodling may also be a precursor to letter formation and, eventually, writing.