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Art & Stages of Development

Here are 3 basic stages and development of drawing from preschool up to age 6 or 7. Lowenfeld observed even more stages for older children. This link has the different developmental stages of art and drawing

Stage one: A child learns to hold a crayon or pencil. He or she first makes hen scratch marks on a paper. Next they scribble with up and down marks and circular images. If you don’t provide paper at this stage your artist will color on his or her bedroom wall! These children draw for the sake of drawing.

Stage two: Shapes, such as a circle, cross, and fairly straight lines are well developed in this child’s drawings. Soon it is very easy for this child to make a person with a round head, arms, and legs. Often, eyes, feet or shoes, hair and mouth will also appear. The proportions are varied at first; the portrait could have a big head and small legs and arms. Colors are chosen because the child “likes” the color, not because it is a factual representation of the object drawn. The painting and drawing from this stage are very stylized for the artist. Each time a child draws a tree, it will be very much like the tree he or she has drawn before. Also, the child will sometimes imitate an adult writing. Eventually, they separate writing from drawing. Children at this stage can usually write their name. Letter reversals are common at this stage.

Stage Three: Between stage two and three the child begins to include in his or her portraits, fingers, toes, eye lashes, eye brows, finger nails, and other minute details. Dimensions, such as earth and sky are noted with a baseline. The sky is usually colored blue, grass green, hills as bumps on the horizon, yellow sun in the sky, and white fluffy clouds. This child is quite a landscape artist. More importantly, the attention to detail, such as eye lashes, finger nails, rings, articles of clothing etc. in a portrait, and spatial understanding indicates that this child is often ready to read. I usually introduce the sandpaper letters and numbers at the end of stage two. Along with the introduction of the moveable alphabet, writing and other language activities, a child by stage three is usually an early or bridging reader.

Lowenfeld’s stages of art and drawing development supports Montessori’s principle that writing (even drawing) does precede reading.