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Kai-Lan and 6 Ways to Inspire Creative Drawing

by Jean Van't Hul
October 5, 2010


This is Kai-Lan, as drawn by Maia. Do you know her? We don't get TV, but do check out DVDs of some children's TV shows from the library. One that Maia really likes (and that I'm so, so about) is about a little Chinese girl named Kai-Lan. I'd like to say that her drawing of her is full of creative inspiration, but she copied it from a band-aid box.


I came home with these band-aids for her a few days ago and she immediately sat down at her red table and drew Kai-Lan detail by detail from the band-aid box. I've never seen her do this before! It was interesting for me to watch, but I'm still not completely sure what to think of it.

On one hand, I think it's harmless and natural for children to want to copy images around them. And being able to translate what you see to paper is a good skill to have. However, I've also noticed a big change in her drawings since she started kindergarten a month and a half ago.

Almost overnight they became all about the repetition of a few simple images: mostly hearts, smiley faces, and heart "flowers". I can only imagine that she and her classmates are looking at each other's drawings and wanting to draw what everyone else is drawing. Understandable, perhaps, but oh! Where did the creativity that brought this drawing into the world (or any of the other hundreds of drawings she's made over the past few years) go? I'm sincerely hoping this is a temporary phase and that she enjoys it thoroughly and then moves on.

And, in the meantime, I'm going to offer as many creative drawing opportunities at home as I can. The latest issue of WNC Parent magazine is out now and my column for this issue is titled "6 Ways to Inspire Creative Drawing." You can click here to read it. You'll need to enter page 37 in the page search field at the top, then click on the page in order to see it large enough to read. And perhaps I'll go re-read it myself as I plot the end of the "heart flower phase"!

If you have kids in school, did their drawings change significantly after starting school? Just curious…

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