This is a wonderful time of the year for magic. There is something about the darkest days that has always inspired us to wonder and imagine. Some people have Santa Claus, a magical figure who grants wishes. In my class I used to tell my students that a wizard would come to our class over the winter break if we made 100 stars and pinned them around the room. Then I asked them what they thought the wizard looked like saying that I'd never seen him or her so maybe they could help me figure out. 

How to draw a wizard: from beginnerswork.com

Everyone had a different idea, but they almost always look like the child who painted the magical being and had lots of personality! Everyone followed a basic example and these were the wonderful results in my Pre-K class in two different years. I drew a circle for the head with pencil, so that they began with placement and proportion, but they did the rest. When the black paint dried we colored with craypas and added glitter for extra magic!  

Wizard lesson from DRAW! Castles and Dragons at TPT

for more ideas visit beginnerswork.com



Good for small hands, and fun for everyone.
Visit beginnerswork.com for more torn paper how to...

PS This activity comes with a warning hide your books and recipes as tearing paper is a skill beginners like to practice!


What with the holidays and clear winter skies, now is the perfect time to learn to draw a star... so as my gift to you here are three star lessons for your beginners, available as a free epacket at TPT

 These are wishing stars made by students, cut out of painted paper and secretly glittered by their teachers over winter vacation. The paper ribbons express their most wonderful wish. When the children arrive back from vacation each one gets to have a brain storming session with the whole class in which we discuss how to make this wish come true. For example "I wish to be an astronaut" well, in conversation we figure out that this beginner has to got to college, even graduate school for starters..." 
It is very evocative and every wish can come true eventually. 
Logic, planning and hard work are powerful magic when seen in the light of these stars!

Great fun for all... and you get to model problem solving for them.

Some ways to use stars...

Star dot to dot... always a big surprise. Don't tell them...

 Star practice train small or big hands to draw a five pointed star.
 Practice with a different color crayon each go round.
Use crayons for this activity, for the best results. No erasing just better next time...

 Good to use pencil for this in case erasing is necessary.

Please send the results... I'd love to see your stars.

Notable Book...

My first picture book
Silkii A Mermaid's Tale 
has been chosen as a notable children's book in the 
Dec/Jan issue of  

Silkii a brave young mermaid explores the air above her lagoon and becomes friends with a butterfly.  Even though Silkii and the butterfly are from very different worlds, they find ways to spend a lovely summer playing on the lagoon between the air and the water. In the end they say good bye when the butterfly must migrate south and the mermaid must hibernate for the winter.

Silkii is an engaging story about friendship and the cycles of life. Throughout the story the butterfly's life cycle is illustrated on the facing  pages.


                                 Silkii is perfect for teaching lifecycles. 

             It is a great followup to Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpiller.

                      To see Silkii the classroom go to beginnerswork.com

Silkii A Mermaids Tale 
is available at
                              beginnerswork books and LULU.com


Almost any piece of art can be read as a self portrait of the artist if you are clever enough to see the resemblence. In fact a hallmark of great art is the highly individual personality of the artist.

This is an example of a simple lesson that is charming  and can also be revealing, if you know what you are looking for. 

Your class members or even a few children in your family paint a snowman based on the same easy lesson. The result can be  self portraits that offer insight to teachers and parents alike. 

The blue paper represents her small world and the snowman is herself.
Each picture can be a metaphor for that child's inner state. This would make a wonderful and original holiday card, if say, three children in a family each created a snowman and they were photographed together... maybe even the adults could get in on this!

Here you will see well balanced children centered in their world. Some who look at you and others who are too shy.

Another snowman who is holding on to the sides and wearing a big hat and struggling to maintain balance and yet is very happy. 

An unhappy snowman who doesn't seem to have enough ground to stand on. 

There is even one who seems to big for the space. 

Each of these snow men represents quite accurately the sense these children had of themselves in their immediate world as happy, sad, balanced or in need of boundaries. 

To try this lesson, first your beginners must know how  to draw circles and squares and lines and triangles, otherwise it will be the struggle with shapes that dominates the painting.

The make a sample. So they can see just what you are asking them to do. Don't worry this won't influence their individual expression.

When they have mastered the idea of basic  shapes, have them paint. 

First, the snow at the bottom and three stacked circles... bottom, middle and top and large medium and small. Then snow flakes all around.
Let dry.

Black paint for the hat, first a square then the brim. Then with a small brush sticks for arms and coal for eyes. Let dry.

Finally, orange craypas for the carrot nose.

Finally, you might  to ask your beginner to describe her painting. If it is by a family member write the description on the back for a memory.


I have saved things that are either useful, meaningful or much loved on the theory that a good book or toy is timeless and will be enjoyed by all children.  I had two wonderful boys who have become wonderful men so I hoped for wonderful grandchildren. My wish is coming true!

We've saved many favorite books such as The Monster at the End of this Book, Where the Wild Things Are,  One Fish Two Fish, Little Blue and Little Yellow and In the Forest. I was right, they are a hit with the current generation and later, there will be all of Harry Potter, Choose Your Own Adventure and Amphagory.

There are some stuffed animals and a Little Tikes Doll House with lots of people, a van and play yard equipment that has already become a favorite. In fact I found a few pieces on E-bay that had gone missing during the house's tenure at my school.

I even have Ginny dolls from my childhood sixty years ago that I'm sure my grand daughter will love.  I had boys so they have been tucked safely away in the attic for sixty years and are now impossible to find or at least beyond my budget. And then there's my ball collection and school room wooden blocks. All these toys and books have been well loved. They stay at our house and are more special because of it.

This highchair is 32 years old and was first used by my oldest son, then ten years later his brother. I lugged it around from pillar to post, through thick and thin, for thirty years and this week I glued all the pieces back together. That was such an ordeal that I neglected to take pictures. Just imagine a pile of sticks! and me swearing...

 Finally, I gave it two coats of beautiful green paint. 

Now, it fits perfectly in our dining room as if it was meant to be there.  

Well, it was...

 And here it is being used by my grand daughter.  It looks perfect in the dining room, as if we're expecting very young company! I'm sure it will be around for another thirty years! Her uncle made her raisin toast... and later she played with clay. 

My vision has been realized and I'm very satisfied.

Save the best stuff... everyone loves it even more 25 years later.


I think that taking a class outside to experience the day is a wonderful thing. Imagine you have been avoiding the cold and wet weather. Cabin fever sets in. Why not embrace the weather, why not make it into art and writing. Increase your expressive verbal and visual vocabulary. Why not do this for every the  seasons, people will look forward to it! Record sounds and find a way to play them.  Make fabulous bulletin boards.

If your students' writing is illustrated by a spectacular cooperative mural, people will want to read their work.  Pictures and words will work together to fully communicate with your audience. This cooperative mural shows a class effort AND interesting individual expression. Murals are like a movie, a way for many people to appreciate an idea at the same time. Conversations take place and a group experience happens in front of a mural that doesn't happen elsewhere.

You can find my reproducible 4 Seasons E-Packet at TPT. There are 30 drawing lessons for all 4 seasons. Pass out the bird lessons and get started.

In DRAW! 4 Seasons there is a how to for creating a mural for every level Pre-K to 6. Try this activity in any season. 

To get started - go to TPT and find this free download - 


Then visit beginnerswork.com for lots of ways to use drawing to enhance learning in your classroom or home. Become ARTiculate!


I love highchairs. 

Of course, they are the best place to feed a child, but for the same reason they are a wonderful place to tear paper, look at a book, scribble, count crayons, play with a toy, finger paint with pudding or paint, play with clay and stack blocks!

Supported upright position, upper body control, freedom of movement and focus-  
Pieces stay contained on the tray, crayons don't roll to the floor, little brothers can't reach your stuff and distractions seem to disappear.
When a highchair is pulled up to a kitchen table to make a bigger work space, the beginner's attention is still centered! 
Stay tuned for more ways to use this glorious piece of furniture. Tell me, what activities do you use your highchair for?
- Karen


Our modern Thanksgiving is a wonderful and warm holiday that everyone can take time to celebrate together. Young children relate well to the holiday and the gathering of friends and family. Preparation of feasts (great or small) and decoration of the house (grand or simple) are memories in the making.

Spending a few weeks in school creating these little books is a nice way to settle down a class after Halloween and welcome the winter ahead. This set of reproducible lessons will help your beginners draw that special day, with lots of detail. 

"A visit to my grandparents" or "when everyone came to visit" makes a meaningful storyline for each child to share when family visits to your classroom around the holidays. And children will love to read their whole family a story they have created around this special holiday. There are many language skills that can be practiced and demonstrated in this activity. For more ways to use drawing in the classroom visit beginnerswork.com see Tell Us A Story.

The short stories below were written and illustrated by Pre-kindergarteners and were shared with their grandparents when they visited our classroom before the Thanksgiving Holiday. The kids were very proud and their grandparents were thrilled! It was great to see them  sitting on laps and reading their own stories to adoring relatives all at once... a joyful noise!

There are many possibilities for story lines in these lessons. A favorite story has been about visiting grandparents with cousins... playing in the snow, eating dinner, going out to see the stars then having hot chocolate and a bed times story. It helps children create a comforting narrative. This packet can be found at TPT



This is the time of the year when our children study the Pilgrims and the Wapanoaog Indians and their harvest celebration of a first long and difficult year in the new world.And this year your students' Thanksgiving illustrations can be as ARTiculate as their writing.

This packet of little drawing lessons will enable your students to recreate the scenes in historic detail. There are many uses for these drawings. To illustrate an essay or report by your students They can write and illustrate a journal about their lives as an Indian girl or a Pilgrim boy.

Each child could draw one figure and write about it.
For example: a deer and the many ways the Pilgrims and Indians used the deer they hunted for food and clothing or how they planted and utilized corn. How they built a cabin it can be a simple or complex as the 

Or everyone can use the shelter drawings and call it My Home...

Which ever you choose, your student will have all the 
visual information they need to be confident.

By drawing these historic events, children are better able to imagine what it might have been like. Here is a packet of 17 reproducible and historically accurate drawing lessons for your students - from Pilgrims and Wampanoag people to cabins and wetus. 

Simple lessons based on geometric shapes they already know will allow for highly individual expression. People will be attracted to a bulletin board with fine writing and good art and your students will take pride in their visual expression. 

Parents can support homework and Home-Schools can create an exciting in depth group project.


For higher grades there are instructions for creating these accordion books written on the computer then illustrated with colored pencil or marker. Short stories are a great way to reinforce planning and narrative. Or each child could write a chapter in a longer story the class composes.

DRAW! The First Thanksgiving drawing packet can be purchased as an e-packet at TPT and is a great investment for your classroom for years to come. For more ideas for using narrative drawing in the classroom please visit beginnerswork.com


I purchased these balls at different places, different times. I found the large red one at the grocery store and the yellow and blue at different drug stores. They're light and the bumps make them perfect for little hands. Once an ed specialty toy, they are so wonderful that now they're everywhere, even in the drug store toy section...  

At first we just rolled them on the floor of the upstairs hallway... a hallway keeps the ball with in reach, even when we miss. 
We bounce them off the floor and the walls. Great sensory and motor play, also exciting and fun! The balls are light and washable so they won't harm the walls.
Then our beginner learned primary color names. Here is the blue one, find the yellow one... we practiced with the balls.
Finally sizes: Find the big red one, please get the small yellow one...
And along the way: holding, letting go, rolling, catching, tossing, following directions, social interaction and lots of laughing when we missed or cheering when we succeeded. You can learn a lot from inexpensive bouncy balls...

Now, I'm on the look out for "smallest" orange, green and purple.


Scribbling is fun and can be a very powerful fine motor activity for your beginner. There are skills to master in every stage.

Picking up each crayon and putting it back is learning. You can say  "one, two, three..." to set up the audio pattern for counting in the future. Begin with three crayons. The high chair is a perfect setting for scribbling... good seating and a contained work surface. A safe place to practice her skills while dinner is cooking. 

PRACTICE: dump/count/dump/count... (click on pic)

At first, just seeing that a line tracks her hand movement is fascinating. Holding a crayon or piece of chalk while pushing down to draw a line is a skill worth practicing. 
At first she realizes that this stick can make lines when she moves her hand and pushes down. That is enough for now. There is a connection for her between her actions and the result, cause and effect!

A few months later... there are intentional lines to be made. Up and down, circle and side to side are lines you can encourage by saying "let's go round and round..." She can be a bit more intentional. You verbalize the concept of "round and round" or "up and down" for her. 
clic on pic

This simple activity demonstrates to your beginner that she is in control and that she can do what she wishes.
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A black board is just wonderful for drawing... lines are bold, there is just enough resistance so that it is easy for your beginner to control her drawing.
We are using sidewalk chalk which is just the right thickness. Also, she can erase with a small piece of sponge and get more motor practice. This black board was mine as a child, it's heavy slate and stays put. It used to be part of an easel that is long gone, another example of the art of saving stuff you might need in the future!
These actions are the equivalent of practicing a back hand in tennis. Your beginner learns how it feels to make round, up and down and side to side movements... she is developing motor memory.
Soon, when she learns to draw shapes, she will know just how to move. Round and round for circles, up and down/side for rectangles.