An Art Lesson For Everyone

By: Esther Tell

I started out my career working at a school for children with ASD, throughout my experiences I have taught many different types of art, to many different people . Through these experiences I found a process that is a step by step guide following activity that allows you opportunities to engage in a range of experiences.

I want to show an example of a simple lesson plan that I would give to a small group of students.

A lesson plan would look something like this;

Today we are drawing a swan

  1. I would print out a few pictures of swans and tape them to the wall(I would assess the classes competence with if and how many pictures, as it could be distracting)

2. I would then pass out a piece of paper that is formatted with a series of shapes with boxes underneath to draw. The series of shapes should correlate with the drawing that we are doing.


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Without say anything, hand them a pencil.

The outcome you would like to see is for the children to trace the lines, then draw the objects into the box directly underneath. It depends on the class, but if I feel the need to, during the first class I will work my own work sheet taped to a visible wall.





After they trace the lines, I would have them draw the same lines in the empty boxes, this can be a timed process, again it is up to the teacher to decide what is best for their group.

3. I would then have the students do some “free exercises” where they simply had to follow my lead (this can be done verbally or non-verbally) using different shapes and elements on their papers.(for example: “draw a curvy line, now draw a circle on your paper, connect the two shapes with any shape you want”) This can be really fun, because there is no specific outcome, so everyone’s pictures will come out different.

4.Then collect the papers and pass out the medium that we are working with and start to draw, because the drawing process is mostly visual, it can be a non-verbal process if you choose

*this is an example of a simple drawing that I would do with a group of students


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First I am going to draw the head of the swan.

I am going to draw it near the top of my page so I have room for its body.

*I respond to the abilities of the students by simplifying or complicating the technicalities of the drawing




After the drawing is complete, without words, I will finish my drawing by adding a background or any other personalized variation, giving indication that they are to do the same. If they are having trouble with the background, get the student to make up a story about the swan. This is a great time to ask questions, such as “have you ever seen a swan before? Where were you? Who were you with?”

Some variations you can use:

In the picture above, you can see a red line, a different color pencil can be used to show the importance of a connecting line between shapes. Changing colors can be a great way to aid in memory development

You can also draw an obvious mistake to see if it gets noticed, (Ex, horns coming out of the swans head)

Try to get the student to recreate the drawing they have just finished on a new piece of paper. (this can be aided by using different color pencils every step of the process in the original drawing).

The process can be tailored to your child. The outstanding variables are the step by step shape connecting, easing into more complected experiences, and memory engagement.

Preparation:I would never have tools laid out on the table before the children sit down as it could be overwhelming and distracting. I would have the materials organized by step and easily accessible to me.

*I try to use high quality materials. I feel that a better product leads to confidence, and with better materials comes a better picture. In my experience, in order to enhance creativity, first confidence must be established. Children with neurological differences can benefit from the simple instruction following as a way to ease into exploring their creativity. Each combination of new shapes resulting in a figure or animal is a new discovery. New discoveries shift perspective when shapes transform into evolved objectives.

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