Art + Role Playing = Hidden Learning & Reading

I love art and I love supplies that do more than one thing. One of my favorite coloring supply is the watercolor pencil. Watercolor is usually light in color which is great but what about when you want some punch? Kids love bright vibrant colors so I use Derwent’s Inktense Pencils (72 colors). I don’t use the brushes that come with this set. Instead I use our own brushes. Here’s a smaller set if you want to try it out first: Derwent’s Inktense Pencils 12 Colors.


You draw and color with it and then you take a wet brush and the colors melt onto the paper into even more vibrant colors. Some parts I like to melt colors and combine colors together and some parts, I like to leave the strokes of the pencil to show depth. I think it’s opening to the mind for young children how things can be used in different ways. It allows them to use imagination and manipulate a picture the way they want it to look. The more fluid a tool can be, the more your child would think about how they want something laid out.

Older children can draw their own items while younger children you can have them just melt colors. I also use these to combine colors in the color wheel to show how colors mix. In this project, I showed my older daughter an apple that we put on the table and had her draw an outline first. Then I proceeded to let her know how shading works. Does the apple look darker in some areas than not? Are the darker sides different colors? Which color tones does it have? Is it just an orange yellow apple or does it have other hues? What about the stem? After diagnosing the entire apple, we started drawing. At this point, my 2/3 year old helped with an outline and then some shading which she followed along with my sample. Mine was the first in the photo, 2 year old at the time in the middle and my 4 year old at the time is on the right. This killed 1 hour.

So what was it about role playing I was talking about? Why waste these pictures? Most paintings we do, I take a photo and I toss (ouch, I know many parents keep them but that isn’t possible with the amount of “trash” we produce at home). I didn’t think these should be tossed so instead, I thought of a project. I’m sure if you’re Chinese, everyone has a set of the Little Chicken Series  and the same author did the Cat Series which I used for the next project. Their book 野貓軍團烤麵包 had these cute cats, bread and an exploding oven. We drew these (with my help of course) and put these on craft sticks and did roll playing retelling the story. During this whole 2 hour project the kids gained:

  1. Chinese character recognition
  2. Presentation skills
  3. Art manipulation
  4. FUN!

I usually do these on the weekends. If you want your child to do roll playing with the characters, they are forced to read the words on the book or you can help them read it with you. Then they memorize it for role play and then the next time they read the book, they know the words. By that time, they’ve already read that book maybe 20 times while knowing maybe 70% of the words in there. Not bad for an after on the weekend. I did these with my 3 year old at the time and we both drew and colored and she did most of the water work on the colors. I love how vibrant the colors are.


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