(represent – to present again or anew)
This type of drawing, different from story drawing, or drawing from memory or imagination, requires close observation. We encourage the children to look closely, noticing as many details as possible.
Giving your full attention to something seems simple, but it requires self control, and is a skill that is useful not only in visual and scientific inquiry, but in many aspects of life, even in conversation. In our multi-tasking world, how often do we give our full attention to something or someone? The practice of paying slow, careful attention, whether in visual observation or in conversation, allows us to be fully in the present moment. It is a rewarding and calming experience.
Observational drawing is a practice that we usually employ every year, in all the classrooms. We invite children to slow down and look carefully at an object. It takes practice (even for adults) to draw what you really see, instead of what you know about a thing. Which features are visible from a particular angle and which aren’t? We encourage the children to notice details, to look closely at parts, to notice what shapes an object may be made up of, what size one part is compared to another, and to notice where elements are in relation to each other. Early on, a child's drawing may contain many disconnected parts, but as they develop, they begin to position the parts on the page relative to each other; both scale and position become meaningful.
The technique of breaking a complicated object into smaller, more manageable parts is another skill with life-long implications not only in representation, but in performing difficult or long-term tasks as well.
Drawing can be many things; a language through which children represent their ideas and understandings, a way of connecting with others, a method for settling into the room, and a vehicle for processing new information. For the teachers and parents, it is also a window through which we can better come to know our children.