Tracing can be fun and beneficial for all age groups. Younger children get to practice hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and learn to control their lines in order to be able to write later on. Older children might enjoy the opportunity to draw realistically without having the skills to do so yet.
While younger children might engage in imaginative play as they draw to communicate a story or idea, older children tend to grow increasingly critical of their drawing abilities and often end up frustrated and reluctant to engage in drawing activities later on. A playful tracing activity can lend itself to developing confidence and growing more accurate drawings skills to attain the desired realistic look in their drawings without major frustration or disappointment.
- Transparency Film
- Sharpies or Chalk Markers
- Mat board for framing (or sturdy watercolor paper to cut your own frame)
- Crayons or oil pastels
- Scrap paper shapes
- School glue stick
Step 1: Trace
Simply provide your children with printouts of animals and Sharpies to trace a picture of their choice. Chalk markers have really vibrant colors but smudge and smear easily if you run your hand over them before they are dry. To reduce smearing use sharpies instead, especially if you’re working with younger children. Some children specifically requested tracing coloring pages but I’ve found that pictures of real animals, buildings etc. work better since they provide more creative freedom to make your own lines.
Tip: To make sure your tracing drawing doesn’t move, tape down the picture as well as the transparency film on top of the picture. Show your children how to trace the image.
When children exclaim that they are done tracing, encourage them to add their own details, patterns, or landscape surrounding their drawings. You could also invite them to use different patterns to create multiple versions of the same image, or they could trace their own drawings.
Step 2: Add a background
If you tape a colored paper behind your transparency film, it will make the details of your drawing more visible. It is fun to try out a variety of colored papers before choosing one. Younger children e.g. often discover that you can’t see yellow lines on yellow paper or that there are different shades of yellow.
Step 3: Frame
Simply cut out a frame of sturdy watercolor paper and tape your drawing to the back of it. Decorate. We used crayons and Sharpies to add patterns to our frame and painted right over them with watercolors before glueing some paper scrap shapes onto our frame.
Tip: Once done we looked at all our drawings and each child got to share something about what they drew. Since we mainly traced animals this lead to a great discussion about what we know about each animals, where they live and what they eat.
The complexity in children’s art work always amazes me. Younger children often invent stories while they draw to communicate an idea or their knowledge, trying to make sense of the world with what they know, filling the gaps using their imagination while their minds still move easily between fantasy and reality. While drawing a polar bear a child explained:
”We can only see polar bears from the airplane because they’re dangerous and the fish must be frozen in the water because polar bears live near the water, but there’s icebergs also, it must be very cold, the polar bear doesn’t have anything to eat now, he is eating the airplane. Well, that’s funny, isn’t it?”.
Aren’t they lovely?
Creative minds think alike? There’s many wonderful approaches to tracing. To learn more about the benefits, similar and different approaches of tracing, follow the links to these inspiring blogs: