Become ARTiculate... thinking visually.

Figurative drawing is a part of language development that is overlooked in education.  Elementary students are required to illustrate their writing from kindergarten sentences to fifth grade essays. And yet, we don't teach figurative drawing to our young students, illustration seems vestigial, a decorative afterthought when in fact the student has been visualizing through the whole activity.

In the aquisition and practice of written language, visual language plays an important part and is the basis of idea formation and creativity. You have to be able to visualize an idea before you can write about it. Visual language is everywhere, even science magazines have flashy illustrations to make a new and complex idea accessible to their readers. In order to sell a movie a story board is needed as well as a script. Practical drawing is the expressive language of creativity.

Drawing plays an important part in the sequence of acquiring written language: drawing – forming uppercase letters – labeling – writing lowercase letters - writing sentences.  There is a tendency to skip drawing or see it as stifling to creativity.  Art is generally non objective. Visual symbolic language is conceptual. It fosters visualization and creative expression. There is a direct correlation between writing a word and drawing a simple figure. Visual language is as much a code as written language. A cat has pointy ears and whiskers, without the pointy ears it is ambiguous just a ct means nothing without an a.

Knowing basic visual information gives anyone the ability to communicate an idea.

Drawing is the language of creativity.  Drawing is conceptual.  Drawing can be specific and also general.  Many of the characteristics of written language can be found in representational drawing. Drawing uses coded information just like spelling. 

Preschoolers think visually and can be trained to express their ideas with drawing the same way as Kindergarteners are taught to spell. They can't write yet, but they can draw. They can create books and invent ideas. They can use information. 

How do we teach 4-5 year old children who are too old for nursery and too young for Kindergarten?  They should learn to express themselves in pictures while they discover letters because they can and there is so much to be learned about language, visualization, creativity and conceptual thought through drawing at this potent age. In fact almost anything that can be expressed in writing can be expressed in visual language. 

For tools and ideas for using visual language in your classroom visit
Next: The case for uppercase…

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