What does a 3-4 year old's drawing normally look like? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 51 Old 05-06-2011, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds and I were rewriting his chore list today and I encouraged him to draw a picture of each item on the list as a way of decorating it. He is almost 3.5, will be 4 in December, and every one of his drawings looked like his 1yo sister's scribbles. He was very upset about his drawing, and he rarely wants to draw anymore.

 

He is already in occupational therapy, and I do the "prescribed" activities with him every day, but they haven't said anything about drawing. It's been a while since I taught 3 yo preschool so I was wondering if you all have a 3 or young 4, or remember what your child could do at that age, and if you taught them how to draw simple things, how?

 

He can draw a circle, a straight line, the letters A, B, E, X and T, and that is after many, many dedicated "lessons" showing him how because he wanted to be able to do it. He knows how to write his name but just can't seem to manage it without hand over hand assistance. He knows what letter goes next, and can tell me how to form the letter (I have little sayings for each letter) but he can't do it. He can't copy at all.

 

I feel bad for him because today he broke his crayon because it wouldn't "go the right way and make things look nice."

 

I always hang up his drawings on the fridge and let him know *I* like his art. But he knows they look like scribbles and so he won't draw anymore for me. I just feel so bad for him. greensad.gif


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#2 of 51 Old 05-06-2011, 10:23 PM
 
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Poor guy! :( Well my 4 year old DD is really good at drawing, but she always has been(she is just an artistic creative child in general though). I think boys and girls develop at different rates for things like drawing. My friends DS is 4 as well, but he can hardly draw much that resembles what it is supposed to. He excels in other areas though that my DD doesn't.


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#3 of 51 Old 05-06-2011, 10:24 PM
 
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My daughter is 3 and she still scribbles. She is not interested in following instruction. I think she is capable of drawing a circle if she wants to, but she doesnt want to. She feigns interest and then scribbles. She will scribble over anything I draw. I dont think she is behind, but I dont know that drawing is a milestone. I am not going to worry about it until she is kindergarten age.

 

Sorry I am not much help.


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#4 of 51 Old 05-06-2011, 10:33 PM
 
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DS will be 3 in July and doesn't show much interest in drawing or coloring, but when he does it is all scribbles.


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#5 of 51 Old 05-06-2011, 10:42 PM
 
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My older two had really good fine motor skills and were drawing very good, recognizable pictures at that age, and could write any letter, as long as they could see an example (not always neatly or small - but recognizable). DS2 is 5.5 and only now drawing things that are recognizable - people are still big circles for the body and head together with sick legs and arms coming off at weird angles.
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#6 of 51 Old 05-06-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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My dd was still mostly scribbling at 3 with am line or a circle thrown in. I remember the developmental things at her pediatrician asked at that age if they could draw straight lines and circles. My ds is 2.5 and they just came to evaluate him after a year of EI and he came ahead in fine motor and he can't really draw anything yet just circles and lines. It is good he can do a few letters already. I know some kids are drawing pictures at 3 but not all are.


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#7 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 08:51 AM
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Well my just turned four yo girl can draw detailed (but funny looking) people and animals and things, but my mom (who's taken a lot of early child dev courses and works with kids) says that what's average is one feature per year. So a three year old draws people with three features, head, eyes, mouth maybe. And a four year old might add legs onto the head, making those little squat figures that most kids make.

I would ask at OT about the drawing if you are going anyway but i agree that it can vary a lot especially for boys.
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#8 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 09:13 AM
 
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It's average for kids to not start drawing representationally until they are 4.  So I'd expect a 3 yo to make spirals, X, and O.  Sure, some are drawing nice stick figure type people but half of the kids that age are not.  Preschool really turned my ds off from any drawing or writing.  It was a shame because he had just turned 4 and was just starting to draw letters and people.  That all stopped for a full year and he never warmed up to it.  But he's a sensitive perfectionist which is a contributing factor.

 

Your ds might prefer markers to crayons.  Crayons require a lot of pressure and the marks still don't look nice.  What worked best for my ds was a chalk board or a dry erase board so he could rub out any lines he didn't like and redo them.  If you have a camera, you can then take a picture if you want to preserve any drawings.


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#9 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 09:32 AM
 
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My 3.5 year old drew this.  It is him and his little sister.  He was wearing a winter hat with long straps when he drew it, so that is what is coming out of his head lol.  i took a pic of it because usually his drawing is a lot different, like lines and stuff.  He likes to make snakes and spiders.

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#10 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 09:55 AM
 
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DD is 3.5 and draws just like the above poster - she draws our family...and she draws monsters a lot! She will draw a huge face with four eyes and a huge mouth and go "look momma a four eyed monster!" so we have a ton of those around (she started doing those maybe a few months before the more detailed people) 


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#11 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 10:17 AM
 
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since your son wants to learn and is frustrated i would say try different mediums. pens and pencils and paper is hard for them at that age.

 

try dry erase board, chocolate pudding, chalk outside, those magnetic toy writers, shaving foam, on windows, crayons on big boxes. also try different forms of art. painting with brush, sponge.

 

take photographs and print and put them on your fridge.

 

at that age dd dd amazing things - crayons in hte bathtub, dry erase boards, painting with her feet and hands on 4x6 paper - never really on paper and pen.


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#12 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 10:45 AM
 
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From the age of about 2 to 4.5, all ds2 would draw were circular scribbles all over pages. When he finally started talking, he told me it was spaghetti. No amount of effort or suggestion on anyone's part could get him to draw anything but spaghetti.
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#13 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 11:45 AM
 
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I teach 3 yr old preschool.

 

We just did assessments for the state--- the goal for our kiddos (had to be 3 by sept 1st) was to do circles  and vertical lines. Our of our 12 kiddos  11 can do this. So I would say that by age 3.5 (which the kiddos are by this point in the year) circles and lines would be a 'milestone'.  Also, being able to 'string' large beads (think large pasta noodles) and to cut a ragged line with scissors are considered skills to master by age 4.

 

Again-- our of 12 kids 10 can cut a ragged line, 11 could string large noodles. The 12th kiddo is our youngest at 'not' quite 3.5 (he will remain in our class again next year since he is the only student that did not make the cut off date- he is a winter Bday).

 

In perspective-- 2/12 can write their names, 6/12 can draw a person with body/arms/legs/face, 10/12 can string beads. Kids age range from 3.4 to 4.6. It is a  solid middle class preschool. The kiddos that could 'not' do these activities are all not yet 4. All my 4 yr olds could do these skills.

 

 

By age 4- if a child is still 'fisting' ( grabbing writing tool with a full hand instead of a tripod grasp of any kind), can only do 'open' circles ( circular shape, but more of a squiggle instead of a closed shape), can not manipulate small shapes, cant use scissors in a basic way (think able to open close them), or string large beads- I would look into some fine motor activities.  After a few months if you see no improvement in fine motor abilities, I would ask for an OT evaluation.

 

 

Some kiddos have perfect fine motor skills, but no interest in drawing so circles, people, name, etc come later. Other kids 'want' to do these things- but are physcially unable due to fine motor control. OT is more appropriate for the kids that really have a fine motor concern, vs lack of interest.

 

At just 3.5-- I would keep doing your OT activities and allow for a lot of fine motor play (play doug, sand, large blocks, etc).  Often - there is a large burst of development between 3.5 and 4- if you see no improvement talk to your OT some more.

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#14 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 05:29 PM
 
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Aidan wll be 4 in July and doesn't really draw anything more elaborate than a circle.  Lots of scribbles.  He does have fine motor problems--still 1/2 way fisting crayons/pencils.  Also--my 6 yr old--he is just NOW getting better at drawing.  I think my kids just have no artistic ability/interest in drawing.


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#15 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 06:06 PM
 
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Quote:
In perspective-- 2/12 can write their names,

 

 

Isn't it 3.5?

 


 

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#16 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 07:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

 

 

 

Isn't it 3.5?

 


I think she meant 2 out of 12 of the kids in her class
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#17 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 10:29 PM
 
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errr.  My 3 - will be 4 in december kid can barely scribble.  He has *zero* interest in writing/coloring.  

 


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#18 of 51 Old 05-07-2011, 10:49 PM
 
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Ds turns 4 at the end of the month. He is into drawing, taught himself to draw the whole alpahaber at around 3.2 y (I walked over one day and he had drawn his name), can draw animals, people with torsos/heads/limbs/faces and loves to draw monsters. The magna doodle was a big part of his success. Something about it is very freeing vs writing on paper. You can change your mind. No evidence. He usually does it on th potty. : ).

Also better quality art supplies might help. Stockman crayons are fancy, in a tin, and don't break. Sort of lends a sense of excitement to drawing. Also really big paper. Also good quality colored pencil a like lyra ferby short ones are really easy to move across paper. We have a cute little holder.

And just wait... About half the kids at our (fancy, privleged, play based) preschool still scribble their names. And pretty much the kids who couldnt do it at the begining ofmthe year still cant do it. No change.
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#19 of 51 Old 05-08-2011, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe I need to read this thread to ds! lol.gif

 

I'm glad to hear that he has plenty of company in the scribbling department! There are some really great suggestions here....we do have a magna doodle (have had one since ds was 1-ish) and both of my kids like to draw on it. This is part of the problem....dd appears to pick things up very quickly and was scribbling with crayons before her 1st birthday. She does put them in her mouth sometimes, but she really, really likes to draw. I have a picture from her and picture from ds up next to each other on the fridge and they look exactly the same except that ds had scribbled a hole into his. DP at a glance, thought they were both dd's, which really ticked ds off.

 

It seems like this, at least for ds, is one of those things that he just can't rush or be taught, no matter how much he might like to be a little Picasso. It's developmental, kind of like peeing the bed at night, which is another sore spot in our house. After all, I have worked with him (or given him opportunity to be creative) with drawing shapes, writing and tracing since he was very young, like 1 year old, pretty much every day, and he still can't draw a square, even though I know he first started tracing squares & triangles (and loving it) when he was about 20 months.

 

I feel bad seeing him be so hard on himself. He loves to be creative, but he has a perfectionist streak and wants things just perfect, or not at all (like me!). I will try putting the crayons up for awhile and maybe doing some fingerpainting and cut and paste activities instead this week. I think, though, that I still need to try to help him understand that mistakes are ok, that art is just for fun, and no matter how it comes out, if you had fun in the process, it's all good. Maybe I should show him the stuff I've been producing on my new sewing machine that I haven't yet got the hang of. lol.


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#20 of 51 Old 05-08-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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I've worked as a preschool teacher and then an early childhood education specialist. I would lay off the hand over hand writing unless HE is the one who wants to do it. Writing is really something that needs to come from within the child. I'd also avoid "teaching" him to write using a particular method. Most little kids learn to form letters themselves, and the mechanics of formal lettering can get in the way of that.

 

Put away the crayons if they are frustrating for him for now. Using his finger to draw/write in wet sand or shaving cream is a great activity.

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#21 of 51 Old 05-09-2011, 07:33 AM
 
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Benjamin drew this when he was 4.5 old.

Sont the clown

 

It was his first ever recognizable drawing. Before that his drawings were all very chaotic scribbles. He did his best drawings with a variety of colors, and each color represented a different animal or event.  One of my favorites looked like a mess to most people but to him it was a whale spouting a rainbow.  (think a big purple blob on a blue and white background with scribbles of all colors. Now at six he can draw elaborate machines (think Dr Seuss style inventions), and landscapes, all with recognizable shapes.

 

Boys actually tend to see the world in movement and so their pictures tend to be more chaotic looking for longer.  It is best to praise the energy and the movement in the picture.  Express how you love the motion he creates.  DS was really sensitive too and always asked me to draw for him, especially because his pre-school teachers would give him low marks for coloring outside the lines, struggling with geometric shapes, and choosing the "wrong" color.  I had a talk with them about age appropriate expectations for boys and helped them find ways to encourage his artistic talents.  So far, so good.

 

His 16 mo sister is already able to hold a pen like an adult and draw some recognizable shapes.  I think girls have notably better fine motor skills at younger ages, but that with time these even out.  DS is now (age 6) one of the best artists in his class.

 

 

 


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#22 of 51 Old 05-09-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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I have a 3 1/2 year old boy. He draws scribble-type figures. I'll see if I can find one. I have drawings from school from December. One is his "writing," which is up and down scribbles in different colors, in a line like writing is. One is circles in different colors. Apparently they asked him what he drew, and although he's a very creative storyteller normally, his answer now was "circles." He does do better with markers, and he loves painting over pencil or crayon. I have a pic from relatively recently when he drew "Daddy walking the dog." Daddy is a little circle with very very very long legs, and arms, one of which runs all the way to the dog (leash I guess). The dog is an oval with many many little legs at the bottom. I think 3.5 may be a big age for frustration with wanting to make more elaborate drawings but not having the ability too. I don't push writing or drawing here, but he's getting frustrated when things don't turn out how he wants them in art and in other parts of life.


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#23 of 51 Old 05-09-2011, 09:10 AM
 
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It breaks my heart when the little ones get so frustrated!  The good news is that his fine motor skills will eventually develop and he'll likely be a great writer/drawer.

 

Something that worked for us were printable tracing worksheets.  We used the ones with the basic lines at first and then progressed to the ones with curves, loops, etc.  It was pretty easy for my son to just trace the line and then he felt so proud of himself.  So I'm not sure if it was the practice or just the boost of confidence, but after a few weeks with these worksheets, his skills really improved and he started to love drawing again.  

 

I do think you're doing a great job of displaying his art and telling him how much you love it!  That's so great for his confidence :)

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#24 of 51 Old 05-09-2011, 07:36 PM
 
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My ds was drawing scribbles until about 5. He could do letters and shapes if he really tried but mostly he'd say he was tired after about 2 minutes of trying and would get frustrated and stop. I started to encourage proper grip when holding a pencil/crayon etc. and that did WONDERS. He all of a sudden could spend an hour drawing and writing. He all of a sudden LOVED doing letters and they looked really good. He never liked coulouring books because he'd never stay in the lines so he'd just scribble crazy all over the page. But now it's perfectly in the lines.

I didn't worry about it at 3.5 I just let him hold the pencil with his fist and try as much as he wanted. But at 5, I started watching some youtube videos called Hand writing withour Tears. They had some great ideas about proper grip. I think it made all the difference.


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#25 of 51 Old 05-09-2011, 09:19 PM
 
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My son will be 7 on Sun and his writing is still not the best.   As opposed to his 3 (in Nov) sister who does very well.  It wasn't until recently that his writing is clear and letters formed well.  He's also really gotten into drawing and draws quite well, nicely detailed!   He went thru a I don't want to write or draw, just color pages stage, but now he fills pads up!! 

So I agree w/pp's...it will come, he just needs a break.    


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#26 of 51 Old 05-10-2011, 02:46 PM
 
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I would totally try to help him step away from it a little, or encourage other media as pps have suggested.  The "problem" is definitely not that he can't draw or write these things at his age, but that he is so upset about it.  Where is that coming from?  I mean, frustration is normal, but what happened to make him decide that he ought to be able to do it?  My dd writes her name in an awesome and barely legible way at 4 years old, and she can sort of copy letters, but lots of them don't turn out like what I write at all -- she certainly couldn't at 3yo.

 

I wouldn't ask the doctor or OT about it -- certainly not in front of your son.  I would try to downplay it and encourage him to enjoy drawing and writing.

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#27 of 51 Old 05-10-2011, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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dawncayden, he is doing handwriting without tears right now, in OT. She gives him pages to do at home between sessions and he does seem to like it alright. We have some of those grippy  things, and you're right, they are helpful.

 

As far as why he's upset, he's used to being good at things. He is smart, wherever we go people tell him he is smart because he knows random facts that sound surprising out of a 3 year old's mouth (facts about the presidents, for example) and he talks a lot and asks a lot of questions and pick things up quickly. He usually leanrs how to do things with very little effort. This, and social skills, are the two things where that is not true. And he has no idea that his social skills stink, lol. So this not getting things perfectly when he expects it is new to him and he doesn't like it.


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#28 of 51 Old 05-11-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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I feel for him! I'm 23, spent four years at a prestigious art school, have exhibited work in galleries in 3 major cities and overseas, and I've always felt that I cannot draw. Then I realized that I can draw - I just draw differently. My creative focus is not in drawing, but it was always kind of this spooky untouchable thing, until I realized that "representation" really isn't necessarily the only way to create gorgeous images.

 

That's not to say that he won't ever be able to form representations. He will, of course. But that can have very little to do with his identity as a "good artist". He's right where he needs to be for now.

 

Fortunately for him, he does draw, and will continue developments in his drawing (and writing, btw), his way, in his time.

 

For creative confidence, I would maybe try giving him a disposable camera (for now) and display his favorite photos in frames. Talk to him about the art of photography, the art of video, the art of music, the art of dance, the art of sculpture, the art of mixed-media, the art of collage. Talk to him about documenting performances. Start looking at (and talking about) his building-block creations as architectural pieces. That's what they are! Start talking about different things that he does in terms of its integrity as art.

 

Also, scribble with him and love your scribbles.


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#29 of 51 Old 05-11-2011, 11:10 AM
 
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DS2 was only scribbling until shortly before his 5th birthday. He's going to be six in July, and he's only recently started being able to really draw what he wants to draw at all. He gets very, very frustrated (both his older siblings were, unfortunately for him, early with drawing and such - ds1 drew me a recognizable shark at just under two) with his inability to draw. What I'm seeing, though, is that he got started late on these skills, both in terms of interest (actually, he wanted to draw at about three, but really wanted to be able to slap a paint brush or pencil against paper and produce a Mona Lisa) and ability, and is now developing them at what seems to be a more normal rate.

 

You've already got your ds seeing an OT, so I think I'd mention this, just as a data point, but it really doesn't sound like anything to worry about.


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#30 of 51 Old 05-11-2011, 02:37 PM
 
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Excavator.jpeg

This is an excavator that DS drew a week ago. He is 2y10m. He loves to draw and is really into machines. He drew two control units, because one is for operating the excavator and the other one for sleeping (we just bought a camper :) )

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