Shared drawing: why it’s good for children with disability or autism
Shared drawing is creating a picture together by taking turns to add to the picture.
Shared drawing is a great way for children with disability, autism or other additional needs to learn to work as part of a team, share and solve problems. It’s also good for building fine motor skills and imagination. And it can help children learn about shapes and colours.
This activity is particularly good for children with limited verbal communication skills. They can respond, express their emotions and connect with others through drawing rather than speaking.
What you need for shared drawing
All you need for shared drawing is:
- 2 or more people – pairs or groups can be adults with children, or children with other children
- plain paper, around A4 size
- crayons, pencils or markers in a range of colours.
How to do shared drawing
- Start with a piece of paper and a crayon or marker each. It works best if each person uses a different colour.
- Draw a shape or a few random lines on your paper.
- Swap your paper with the other person and continue drawing from their marks. You could draw squiggles and patterns, or you could start turning shapes into recognisable pictures. For example, a straight line might become the top of a boat, and a circle might become a face, the sun or a car wheel.
- Swap back and forth as many times as you like.
- Try not to worry too much about the final picture – focus instead on enjoying the process.
How to adapt shared drawing to suit children with diverse abilities
For children whose language skills are still developing, talk about what you and your child are drawing. For example, you could name the colours, shapes and objects in your picture. And ask your child open-ended questions to encourage conversation – for example, ‘Wow, I like that loopy line! What could that be?’
For children who have difficulty with fine motor skills, you could use large grip crayons that are easier to hold, or large paint brushes and bigger paper. It can also help to draw or paint upright instead of on a flat table. You can use clips, Blu-Tack or masking tape to stick the paper to an easel or a wall.
Looking for more play and learning ideas for your child? You might like to explore our other activity guides. Some of these have been created for typically developing children, but they can all be adapted to suit children with diverse strengths and abilities.