Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Drawing with Ed Emberly

I thought I would share a bit of how I use Ed Emberley's drawing alphabet in my classroom. I needed to find an easy way to teaching drawing ideas to first graders. I actually use Emberly's ideas with all grades (to some extent) but my main focus is with K-1.

I believe an important part of any drawing experience should include plenty of time where children are left alone to draw in their own way. I also think it's important to give children the tools they need to grow and change.

Very young children are learning about colors and shapes and Ed Emberley's drawing alphabet is an excellent resource for both teaching about shapes and teaching basic drawing skills. Children can be taught to look for different shapes in their world. And they can be taught to think about what shapes they see in the different things they want to draw.

Emberley's drawing alphabet consists of the lines and shapes in the chart on the left. From these simple shapes, simple drawings can be made.

Emberley's books show a step-by-step for each of his drawings. If you've never used his techniques before, I can tell you that in my experience, it's a hit with the kids. Most young children can draw simple shapes and lines and putting them together is easy for most. Older students who struggle with more advanced concepts can easily draw most of Emberley's characters.

I start introductory lessons by demonstrating the drawings using my document camera. At first I draw, then they copy. So for example I'll say, "Draw a triangle like this." "Now add a half circle and color them in like this." etc...

After completing a few of these drawing, the children catch on to how the steps work and they are ready to draw on their own. When I introduce more difficult drawings, I demonstrate those first and let the students work on their own. I personally draw many examples of drawings and make copies available for children to practice with. (I don't allow tracing, but copying what they see is encouraged.)

I have purchased several of Emberley's books and also made copies of selected step-by-step drawings. I make these available to the children. A usual lesson will include a time where children use the handouts to draw images of their choosing and then add other ideas and details to their drawings. Along with Emberley's books, I have found several other books that fit well into his drawing alphabet approach.

Here are some student samples (various grade levels). One of the biggest hits of Emberley's book collection is the Halloween books. Even the 5th graders like drawing the Ed Emberley way and this is especially true at Halloween.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions (or post question on the discussion list). I hope you find something you can use in your room. And if you have ideas to share, I'd love to hear from you. Dan

Ed Emberley's Drawing Made Simple
Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Halloween
Ed Emberley's Big Orange Drawing Book

1 comment:

  1. I have also used Emberley's easy drawing method in teaching students. (I usually have a few examples each day as bell work to add to their journals.) At the beginning of the year we create a simple drawing journal with themed drawings, as the year progresses we discuss "details" and begin to add them into our drawings. Then by December we begin to use our journal drawings to illustrate our stories. W begin with stories describing our characters and then add adventures and friends and enemies. By the end of the school year the students have created some very wonderful stories. Some of the stories are done in chapters, some are done in collaboration with friends. We have a publishing party at the end of the school year with a class journal for each student. I have a good many yearly journals as well. (Grades K-6).