Strong listening skills are very important during early childhood and can easily be developed through fun activities and games.
One fun idea to try with your kindergartners and preschoolers is a ‘following directions drawing activity’. This means children must listen to your instructions and draw what you are telling them to draw.
These can be random instructions (put a square in the top corner of the page, then colour it in blue), or instructions that build on each other to create an image (put a triangle on top of the square – to make a picture of a house).
Following oral directions to draw a picture is not an easy activity, but it’s a great way to build listening skills in early childhood.
It requires children to listen carefully, concentrate, filter out distractions, remember what the adult has said, process the directions in their minds, and then put those instructions into practice on paper.
This is also a good activity to practise at home with your child. All you need to get started are paper and pencils/crayons.
Here are some things to consider before beginning:
- Start out easy and increase in difficulty from basic to challenging.
- Consider your child’s level and also whether they have tried this type of activity in the past.
- Your directions are the right fit if kids can follow along as you are giving instructions and are able to put your commands into practice in their drawings.
- If they are struggling through each direction, the activity is too complicated and it won’t be beneficial to them.
For kids around 4 years, begin by asking them to draw just one or two things, individually. By 5 years, many children are able to draw basic pictures by following your step-by-step directions.
Try including different concepts, such as counting, prepositions (positional words), directions (right & left), colours, shapes and sizes.
You can introduce your children to these concepts before the activity if you’d like.
- Give one direction at a time and include plenty of wait time for kids to complete each step.
- When they are ready, you can start including two instructions or concepts in steps, such as, “draw a triangle under the circle.” Try these 2 step directions to give your kids practice following multi-step directions.
Here are some listen and draw activity instructions to refer to as examples. Use these as they are or change them to fit your child’s maturity and readiness.
1. Draw a Garden
- Draw some flowers on the ground.
- Add a tree on the ground.
- Draw a bird flying over the flowers and tree.
- Add raindrops in the air.
- Draw a worm on the ground.
2. Draw a Happy Monster
- Draw a big circle.
- Add a smile inside the circle.
- Draw 3 eyes inside the circle.
- Draw 2 noses inside the circle.
- Add 5 legs around the circle.
3. Draw a Snowman
- Draw a circle.
- Add a smaller circle on top of that.
- Draw an even smaller circle on top of that one.
- Add a rectangle on the very top for a hat.
- Draw a smiley face inside the top circle.
- Draw 2 eyes in the top circle.
- Add a triangle for a nose in the top circle.
- Add 2 arms to the middle circle.
- Draw 3 round buttons inside the middle circle.
4. Draw a Colourful Picture
- Draw something purple at the bottom of your paper.
- Add something green above the purple object.
- Draw something red on the left side of your page.
- Add something blue next to the red object.
- Draw something orange at the top of your paper.
5. Draw a Shape Robot
- Draw a square in the middle of your paper.
- Add a triangle on top of the square.
- Draw two circles at the bottom of the square.
- Add 2 small circles inside the square for the eyes.
- Draw 2 rectangles onto the square for arms.
6. Draw an Autumn Picture
- Draw 3 black trees with empty branches.
- Add orange leaves to one of the trees.
- Add red leaves to another tree.
- Add yellow leaves to the last tree.
- Draw orange, red and yellow leaves on the ground.
- Add a yellow sun in the sky.
7. Draw a Playground
- Draw green grass at the bottom of your page.
- Add a yellow sun at the top of the paper.
- Draw a black slide on top of the grass.
- Add a brown swing set next to the slide.
- Draw a blue stick person playing on the playground.
8. Draw a Silly Car
- Draw a rectangle lying on its side in the middle of your paper.
- Add 2 circles underneath the rectangle for wheels.
- Add 2 squares inside the rectangle for windows.
- Draw half a circle on top of the rectangle.
- Add a road underneath your car.
9. Draw a Message
- Draw an eyeball near the bottom left of your paper.
- Add a red heart to the right of (next to) the eyeball.
- Write the letter “U” to the right of the red heart.
- Draw a colourful rainbow near the top of your paper.
10. Draw an Underwater Picture
- Draw short green weeds at the bottom of the paper.
- Draw a red fish in the middle of your page.
- Add a purple fish next to the red fish.
- Draw a brown boat on the left side of your paper.
- Add a black octopus with 8 arms at the bottom of the page.
- Lightly colour over your whole picture with a blue crayon.
These ‘following directions’ drawing ideas are just a few samples. Change them any way you want to fit with your kids’ learning level and personal interests.
To keep developing listening skills, try some of these listening activities for kids or play one of these great listening games:
Read more about the importance of listening skills in early childhood.
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