Pictorial Writing--Primary StagePicture writing provides opportunities for students to add details that will later grow into written sentences and paragraphs. If they draw more, they will have more to elaborate on in their writing.

Early in the kindergarten year, teach drawing skills. NOTE: First grade teachers should review those skills briefly before moving into sentence writing. Teachers working with ELL and students with special needs at any grade level could teach pictorial writing, too. After drawing, have students tell you about their pictures. Develop their oral language. They can’t write it if they can’t say it.

Here are specific ways to support and improve students’ drawing skills:

  • Drawing People–Most students include people in their drawings, but some of their people look more like bugs. Model how to draw using appropriate skin color; simple shapes for head, torso, legs; clothing colors/patterns; details like hair, hands, shoes, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Connection Details–Illustrations tell a story as they show main characters, action, and setting. One way to tell a more complete story is to have details close to or touching the right parts. Show students how to connect things in their drawings like connecting a school bus with a stop sign by adding a road.
  • Size/Spatial Details–Utilizing accurate size and proportion details makes it easier to understand a drawing. If a character in a picture is taller than the house, the reader might wonder if the house is a doll house. Help students learn to draw proportionately to convey accurate meaning.

For more ways to help students add details to their drawings, visit Target Picture Writing to Improved Sentence Writing in our Idea Library.

First address their pictorial-writing skills within your read alouds. Here is a list of favorite wordless (or mostly wordless) picture books to use when demonstrating drawing skills.

  • Flotsam, David Wiesner–True-to-life colors, Size/spatial details
  • Frog Goes to Dinner, Mercer Mayer–Facial details, Showing feelings
  • Good Dog, Carl, Alexandra Day–Connection details, Size/spatial details
  • Museum Trip, Barbara Lehman–Setting details, Shape details
  • Pancakes for Breakfast, Tomie DePaola–Color details, Texture details
  • Sector 7, David Wiesner–Setting details, Connection details
  • Zoom, Istvan Banyai–Close-up details, Connection details

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