Drawing with the Buddy System

I have posted about this before, but we had such a great time in drawing class today that I wanted to share about it again.  I modeled with students the idea of conducting a drawing conversation between two people. To begin I  draw something on the shared paper. Let’s say it’s a leopard, then I’ll ask my “partner” to add a drawing. The student might draw something similar such as a tiger or something completely different like a robot. Now I go around the group and ask them what they would draw next so they practice thinking of what they could draw next. As each person contributes a new idea to the drawing, a story as well as a drawing are created. Today a parent assistant and myself took dictation as the students worked together. I only wish that I could write as fast as the students can talk!  I often have to ask them to wait to tell me a detail until I have finished writing the prior one! I have some drawings and stories to share with you.


(In the beautiful blue castle, in bunny wonderland there lived two princesses: Alivia and Emily. They were trapped in the top of the castle by a scary beast. A knight on a horse tried to rescue them and the beast poured bunny potion on the knight, but he was still able to rescue the princesses by hopping up to the top of the castle with his bunny powers. By A. and E.)

It’s also fun to see how a drawing conversation evolves. When I can, I like to take several photos over the drawing time.

(On my visit to France, I got some croissants. And I saw two Eiffel Towers. One was a blow up one and the other was real.  A girl named Athena was walking her dog named Cassina. It was thundering and it was windy, and there was a floating heart cloud. And then her friend Amina came to walk with Athena. And the girl saw two people staring at each other eating their croissant. The two people walking were looking at three houses on a hill, and a public pool on a mountain. By E. and E.)

I have a student this semester that is quite quiet and introverted as well as more practiced in her drawing skills compared to some in the group. She is very precise and detailed. She likes to draw animals with colored pencils and they are about 3″ x 2″ in size. When other students were scribbling with abandon as part of an introductory activity on line she was carefully drawing her animals, and incorporating different types of lines. As I see students respond in individual ways to my prompts, I allow students to pursue what’s most compelling and important to themselves. I want each child to feel their ideas and creativity are important and valued, not wrong because they approached the activity differently.  Divergent thinking is important to support!

Today I was wondering  which student she would partner with, because I think that a flamboyant and loud artist would not be the best partner to engage with her. Luckily a friendly and fairly quiet boy that also enjoys drawing animals ended up partnering with her. They came up with an imaginative story and both contributed verbally which was exciting to me, especially since she isn’t one to contribute much, at least at this point early in the year.


(One day a leopard walked up on a cliff looking for a meal. He caught sight of the duck and decided that would be his lunch. But then a tiger pounced on the duck instead! The leopard decided to eat the goldfinch instead. Then the leaf fell distracting the bird, and the leopard missed. So the leopard followed the ants, but the ants scurried away into their hole. The frog leapt onto a branch which kicked off the leaf of the bud. He leapt at the hummingbird which was fast enough to fly away from its flowers, and catch the ladybug. The leopard ate the mushrooms and fell asleep from the poison. by A. and A.)

I had another student ask if he could make a comic with his partner. I encouraged them to go ahead and they wrote their own story about Kaco the cat and the Baby Bee.



The amazing thing about the art classroom is the opportunity for individuality and discovery. The discoveries empower the individual as well as the group, bringing a richness to the experience. It was a fun sharing time at the end of class when each drawing partnership could share their story and their drawings. I look forward to next week’s drawing adventures!



About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
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