Warm-Ups Works!

This year we started our art lessons using the highly recommended book ~

Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes

Cover of "Drawing with Children"

To begin, Mona Brookes suggests you teach the 5 Basic Elements of Shape.

Download my free pdf. version of her chart ~ The 5 basic elements of shape

Then she begins each lesson with some warm-up activities.  They are aimed to teach to artist to look carefully and to reinforce the 5 basic elements of shape.

First Warm up ~

  • copy the design in the block a few times
  • carefully look at line shapes, spaces, angles
  • practice mirror images

Next warm up ~

  • Simple oral instructions (e.g.: Take a thick marker and draw 2 lines across the paper from one edge to another edge.  They may cross or touch each other…)
  • Some abstract designs (e.g.: Now take a thin marker and make 3 dots anywhere on the page, but one must touch a line.  Now draw a curved line that starts in the middle of one of your dots ….)
  • Fill in with patters and colour (e.g.: colour in the spaces between lines and shapes with patterns and coloured markers)
  • and Viola! An abstract masterpiece!

We created a lovely grid design during another warm-up ~

  • We completed the mirror image exercise and coloured in the designs. Cut up our coloured blocks and placed them into a basket We each randomly selected about 6 or so blocks
  • Now we copied the selected design down the left side of our basic grid.
  • We had to create a mirror image of the design down the opposite right-hand column and make our own designs to fill the center column.
  • Finally we coloured in the grid.
  • A lovely warm-up!

I looked for more specific lesson plans based on this book on the internet and found ~

  • Drawing with Children Nature Journal Style with printable lesson plans.  Barb (of Harmony Art Mom) created an excellent Squidoo lens and she developed lessons using different art mediums and Mona’s lesson principles and applied it to a nature-themed art activity.  They look excellent, simple and practical, and I can’t wait to get to them soon.
  • Donna Young.org art lessons and free warm exercise pages based on Mona’s book.

Next week I’ll share the key to drawing a still life – the Mona Brooke way!

Are any of you using or enjoying these lessons?  Tell us about them in the comments.

Blessings, Nadene

17 thoughts on “Warm-Ups Works!

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  3. Hello! Thank you for the encouragement. I bought this book years ago – found it completely exasperating and it sat on the bookshelf – producing feelings of guilt so I gave it away. I find myself coming back to it because some people actually seem to do well with it (!). I feel like a dog who gets hold of a jalapeño pepper – tries to eat it, it burns, drops it, goes back in needing to try it again 🙂 I checked her website and the lessons are expensive so now I’ve begun to search online and look for ideas – so thank you!


    • Oh, @Heidi, your description made me giggle! I also have had some false starts and early stops with some excellent reference and resource books, but I have learnt that not everything fits each child or the unique age and stage of their learning. When a book works, it is such a joy! May you thoroughly love and enjoy this new season in your art lessons, however it may work!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I just picked up this book from our local library. I looked at Donna Young’s website and I can’t seem to find the free worksheets referred to. Could you point me in the right direction?


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  7. Between your encouragement and Barb of Harmony Art Mom, I finally am finding ways to incorporate more art into our lives. My kids already love to draw. They could spend most of the day drawing “puppets” and castles and forts to go with them for story telling the remainder of the day. But as to the techniques of how and why of art, and appreciating art around us, we’ve needed help. Thank you for your help.


  8. Nadene,
    Wonderful post! I have been so reluctant to start this (I actually have the book and Barb’s and Donna Young’s plans!) but your ideas have inspired me! I will be doing this w/ my 7yo and 13yo. My 13yo finished Draw Squad and is working his way through Drawing Textbook while waiting for me to get up the nerve to tackle Drawing With Children. He wants to draw still life, so I look forward to your next post on this!



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