Totoro and Other Drawing Challenges for Kids

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How to make challenge drawing papers to inspire your kids creativity

I didn’t end up doing any of the babyproofing of art supplies over the weekend as I had planned, other than moving scissors off of Maia’s red table and keeping the paints in the studio. But Maia did a few more of her challenge drawings and I thought I’d share them with you.

These challenge drawings are easy to make by simply altering the paper in some way to inspire them to think and create differently. I cut holes out of paper sometimes for hole drawing challenges, but this time added contrasting paper shapes with a glue stick.

Maia’s Drawing Challenges

There’s not a tree in sight which makes me think that it was mostly about the shape of the paper. Who knows, though. We may still be seeing lots of trees in the future around here.

Your comments were great and it’s interesting to hear how common repetition seems to be with children’s art.

Above is a drawing of Totoro from one of our favorite Japanese anime films, My Neighbor Totoro. Maia started out drawing a heart, but when she saw the finished shape she said it was Totoro and added the details. I love it!


Here are a couple of other drawings: A train with passengers along the bottom and symbols and letters in the little white boxes.


The alphabet, backwards (she was copying the alphabet from an upside down piece of paper), along the curve of the paper shape.

Our plan for the day involves making these baked doughnuts. A good plan, wouldn’t you say?

Inspire your kids creativity with challenge drawing activities and papers

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  1. says

    These challenge drawings are awesome!! I am looking forward to making a whole bunch. Doughnuts? Feel free to come over for a playdate when those are done!

  2. Jaimie says

    I was so interested to see that you’ve shown her Miyazaki films. I haven’t shown my kids any TV shows or movies yet, but I’ve been thinking it’s time to introduce my four-year old to cinema. One of my first instincts was to go with Miyazaki. Does she get into them?

  3. says

    The challenge drawings sound great. I’m going to have to set up a basket with some for my girls. Although right now my 3yo will only color on regtangular white paper with “no words no letters”:) My girls love the Miyazaki films, Totoro especially. And doughnuts always make for a good day!!

  4. says

    I absolutely love Totoro and so does our daughter who funnily enough is called Maya (different spelling) and is 4. (We also have a baby – 9months, boy). I am quite freaked out by all these similarities. Tomorrow I will show her the drawings of totoro, she likes to draw him too.
    We haven’t shown Maya much tv but she loves Miyazaki. We have watched the two you mention plus Whisper of the Heart ( Although the characters are older in this film, Maya seems really drawn to the narrative and I love it’s message about creativity and possibility. Today we had a great time watching the song singing in the rain from the movie after a rainstorm. Lots of dansing and singing followed! I try to avoid too longer stints because I find it makes her really restless and from what I’ve read (Waldorf etc) I think it’s because of the screen flicker and also the over stimulation without body action. But I do want her to access this medium of inspiration and creativity.
    I love your challenge drawings, I am so inspired, this is my first time here but I think i’ll be stopping by a lot.
    Thank you.

  5. says

    That’s so funny. My daughter started drawing in church this past Sunday and her oval looked so like Totoro’s body that I suggested she draw him. No. She decided to make it a face to look like Daddy. I still think it looked more like a Totoro.

  6. says

    You’re right – lots of similarities!
    I forgot about Whisper of the Heart. That’s a good one. We actually did watch it with Maia once and she enjoyed it.

  7. says

    Found this through Pinterest and repinned the great list of art prompts for our long flight coming up. Today I cleaned out my scrapbook stuff and used scraps to make Challenge Art pages, my kids (age 5 & 6) were eating them up, I couldn’t make them fast enough. They did ten pages each over maybe an hour. They were so creative, we ended up writing stories on the back for each one. They drew a fashion show, an ocean play (the clouds & sun came down on sticks from the stage ceiling), cakes, clouds that rained confetti, aliens playing basketball, a solar system, dinosaurs coming out of eggs, a skateboarder doing tricks, my son tranquilizing bad guys, a roller coast ride that your feet hang out and dip in the water, oh and I can’t forget my son looking at his “case of goosebumps that he took off of people” and my daughter’s “Triangle Dance” and “Head Poppin’ Out the Winow” song. We stapled each stack into their very own wildly creative book.