My first project with k-2 is to have them write their name, copy their
teacher's name off the board and draw a person. By second grade the person is a
picture of themselves doing something they like. When I taught upper grades I
asked for more: a landscape, a building, an object of some sort. I may ask
them to write a sentece or two to tell about the picture. I keep these for
reference and comparison throughout the year. I learn which kids can write
their names, which have emotional problems (sometimes before the classroom
teachers figure it out), which are developmentally immature and may need extra help,
which one has and uncle who is a pimp, and other surprising bits of info. It
took two class periods to discover that a child had been bumped from
prekindergarten to first grade. Her vocabulary was so advanced and her drawings so
immature that I knew to inquire of her classroom teacher. There is so much to
be learned from this type of drawing and it gives you a chance to ask questions
and learn about your kids.
Next I usually do a "no way to fail" project as a confidence builder: For
example drawing fish or buildings using basic shapes and unreal colors. Have
them add patterns to shapes to expand the lesson. These can be washed with
blue paint as a crayon resist when I teach painting procedures. They almost
always look great and the kids are impressed with what they have done.
Looking forward to seeing the feedback on this posting!