Preschool children's early attempts at mark-making produce simple scribbles and lines, and there is no attempt at representation. By the time children enter kindergarten, they have progressed beyond early stages of mark-making to a stage of drawing known as the pre-schematic stage. The preschematic stage allows for conscious creation of form and provides a clear record of children's thinking processes, says Viktor Lowenfeld, author of "Creative and Mental Growth."
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A Universal Symbol
Preschooler's early mark-making attempts feature scribbles and lines that evolve into mandalas, which are circular or ovoid shapes. The mandala becomes a universal symbol that children use to represent objects, animals and people. For preschool children, mandalas typically represent human faces, while kindergartners develop basic face shapes into tadpole people. A tadpole person develops from a mandala and features two eyes, a nose and a mouth. There is no attempt at representation of a torso, and drawings typically feature two horizontal lines as arms and two vertical lines as legs, all of which protrude from the head.
Stacking is a drawing technique that enables children to develop and enhance basic mandala images. For example, early drawings of tadpole people are replaced by drawings that feature a stacked head and torso, while fingers are represented by five small stacked circles drawn at the end of straight-line arms. At this stage, torso shapes are typically represented by geometric shapes, such as oblongs. Children also begin to add more complex details to their stacked-shape drawings. For example, hair is added to drawings of people's heads or small circles are drawn on torsos to represent buttons on a coat.
Colours and Schemas
The use of colours in early-stage pre-schematic drawings is based on children's emotional preferences. For example, a child whose favourite colour is pink may use only pink crayons for her drawings. Later stages feature use of realistic colours to enhance representational qualities. For example, a child who uses the colour green to draw leaf shapes on a tree.
Schemas are children's unique and recognisable ways of drawing that develop during later pre-schematic stages. A schema represents something that is part of a child's experience and reveals her emotional responses. For example, a child may develop flower-shaped schemas on torsos because her favourite sweater features a flower shape on its front.
Concepts About Space, Size and Position
In early-stage pre-schematic drawings, objects and figures appear to float on the page, and there is little evidence of spatial concepts, such as proximity or distance, or of positional concepts, such as front and back. Figures typically face forward in early pre-schematic drawings and sizing remains unconsidered. For example, a child's own drawing of himself and his dad may show his dad as the smaller figure.
Later-stage pre-schematic drawings feature use of an imagined or drawn baseline on which figures, animals and objects are positioned, and children begin to consider sizing. For example, a child uses the bottom of the page as a baseline, and draws a small cat and a larger human figure so their feet touch the baseline.
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