Teaching Setting Through Drawing

I want to share a lesson that I did on teaching setting that my kids just loved!  We have been discussing setting in writing and reading, and the kids definitely understand it pretty quickly.  However, it takes a little bit more to get them to add setting details to their drawings.  I think they find it difficult to believe that those details really make that much of a difference.  This activity really brings to light for them how powerful setting can be in drawings.

I begin by giving each student a drawing paper with the same figure four times.  It looks like this:

I then give them step by step drawing instructions to help them bring each picture to life.  For example, I might say, ” Draw a long, thin, slanted rectangle just beneath your person,” or “Draw two vertical, parallel lines just to the left of your person.”  In kindergarten I am modeling as I go, so I use the language but also show them exactly what I mean.  In older grades you could certainly just give them the verbal instructions and see how they do.  I love embedding math language this way!

The fun comes when the kids begin to guess what we are drawing.  They begin to realize that each detail that we add is a clue, and they notice things in a different way.  I usually save the dentist chair for last, as it is a bit trickier.  Two years in a row this has been the most fun picture.  The kids start to guess things like a chair or bed.  Then they guess hairdresser (which it easily could be!)  Once we add the light, they realize it is the dentist.

I think it would be fun to follow up with another, similar picture base and have the kids add their own settings, although I have not done that yet.  Here are some photos of my kids at work, and their finished products.

If you would like to do this with your students, you can get the beginning page that I use, as well as pages showing the drawing stage and finished product, by clicking here.  I love the special creativity they can give the pictures at the end when they color, design clothes, and add hair!  How do you help your kids understand setting?

11 Responses to Teaching Setting Through Drawing

  1. Teresa January 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Do you have a copy of the directions for each picture that you are willing to share? Love this idea!

    • Teaching Ace January 16, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Hi Teresa! As of right now, I have nothing written down. I have always just gone off the top of my head. However, I can see how it would be really helpful, both in terms of sharing, and for me as well! I can’t offer anything right now, but I will try to put it together in the future. Thanks for the great idea!

      • Shanna September 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

        I just stumbled upon this masterpiece… do you have directions available now? 🙂

  2. set up software February 25, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    It’s actually a great and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Primary Paradise September 24, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    This is a fantastic idea! I’m going to use this to teach my students the importance of setting next week. Thanks SO much for sharing!

  4. Anni September 19, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    I did this with my first graders this morning and they loved it! Perfect for facilitating a conversation on why details are important in a setting and to character development! Thank you 🙂

  5. jen August 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Hi , thanks for the creativity. Am trying out with my grade 4 but with a twist. They draw and colour their own details and then put them in words in a separate worksheet for the 4 pictures. Their drawings will be put up for display to be discussed by the whole class.

    At the end of the lesson, coupled with other activities on settings, they choose a picture out of the 4 and create a problem for the character and write a story


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