Using Frames to Inspire Children’s Drawing

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Use Frames to Inspire Children's Drawing

I've been drawing frames for Maia and her friends to draw and paint in lately. Just to see how they would use them, really. To see if they seemed inspirational, or fun, or a good creative prompt the way the hole drawings and challenge drawings were.


They drew in chalk frames.



In boxes drawn on paper.


In ovals and circles drawn on paper (and then cut them out).


And painted in box frames (made with black masking tape on easel paper) and also large oval/circle frames (not pictured).

It was an interesting experiment and working within the multiple frames definitely appealed to the kids. Each time I just set out the paper with the frames and they gravitated toward them immediately as they do with anything new. It didn't seem to inspire the kind of creativity that the hole drawings did, but it got them painting and drawing with enthusiasm. And it brought up the idea of a series for the first time with Maia. I'll probably keep doing this once in a while.

Do you have any other ideas for encouraging more creative drawing and painting? I'd love to hear them!

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  1. says

    An honest answer here is that I just leave lots of materials in easy access! I know this is completely not news to you – but, when I think of your question I can only recall the times when my kids repeat or reinvent some project I’ve done with them at another time just out of the blue. The two things that get repeated a lot with my kids are ‘making’ clothes for their dolls. I did it once by cutting up some old socks – and they have done and re-done (with lots of different materials) this many times since..\ And the other one they love is crayon resist watercolour images. Love, love, love it.
    Of course, I’m looking forward to hearing peoples ideas and responses to this question. I;m just sayin’ – doing lots of creative projects is where it’s really at. :-)

  2. Padma says

    Hi Jean – you may have tried this already…we use different materials to paint – bubble wrap, leaf tips, q-tips, rags, feathers, bottle caps (dip in paint and stamp – try both ends), sponges of different textures, mixing paint with salt, sand, saw dust etc. We also tried dipping items that roll (marbles, baby food jars, bottle caps in paint and drop them on a paper to watch how they created patterns…a bit messy outdoor activity really. Just some ideas..I stop at your blog daily – very inspiring and creative :-)

  3. says

    I just love seeing a new post from you in my blog reader – always great inspiration! I clicked back through your links to the Hole Drawing post and was wondering where you purchase the poster board? Our office supply stores carry it for around $1 a piece…my prolific artist will bankrupt me at those prices! I can’t wait to see everyone’s suggestions for creativity…I try not to hover and my daughter seems to come up with some wacky stuff, heehee!

  4. says

    Fascinating experiment!
    As to nice paper that is cheap, go to a local printer… a REAL printer… not a Kinkos or fast copy place… and take a box with you. Ask if they have any scraps to share for children’s art. You will be AMAZED!! I hope you have a quality printer in your area because they have the best scraps ever. Gold, posterboard, sticky back, huge sheets of misprinted posters, on and on.

  5. says

    I have used frames to encourage writing, I made up sheets with 4 frames and a line to label the picture, I found that the kids were more encouraged to write (I was an ESL teacher) the word if they could draw a picture with it and the little frames really helped.
    I love the framed wallpaper but I think I would end up hogging it if we had some!

  6. Jennie says

    I tried the black squares on white paper to see what my daycare kids would do. All they did was try to color them in, nothing else. To them it was just a square to color in. I love this idea, but will have to try again and ask them to think of other ways to use the squares or whatever shape. When I do the circle cut out of the paper they complain that the paper has a hole and they don’t know what to do with it, so they don’t color on it.

  7. says

    For the holes in the paper, could you try prompting them. Maybe ask questions to get them thinking. Like, “what if that hole were a pond — what could you draw around it?” or, “what if that hole is your eye? what could you draw to finish the picture?” Might be worth trying to see what they come up with. Probably after a prompt or two, to get used to the idea that the paper isn’t simply defective, they’ll draw around them creatively.

  8. says

    We do the same — leave lots of materials in easy access. But sometimes I like to see what I can do to jumpstart a new kind of drawing/painting/creative thinking…

  9. says

    My girls especially love really small canvases and really large canvases. Sometimes I punch out 1″ circles for them out of Bristol board, and they always love to draw tiny little pictures on them with my fine-point Sharpies or Microns. Other times, I set up a huge canvas on the floor or against a fence outside, and let them go to town. They also love tracing each other and then decorating themselves, and my six-year-old (but not the four-year-old) has the finger strength to spray paint on huge pieces of paper outside.

  10. says

    We have used our huge pinboard as a ‘drawing wall’ these summer holidays. I’ve cut up different sized rectangles in brown, white and cream paper and we have used fine brown art pens. Sometimes we have a theme – food, animals or I’ll leave out a few art books for inspiration. We also used a huge table-length piece of paper which I splatterd with red watercolour paint, then we doodled around it for days, before I cut it up to add to the drawing wall. I used sewing pins to pin up all our art, just like our local gallery, so the kids thought that was pretty special! Will post photos next week on my blog – just need another day or two to fill the gaps!