>I've found myself in the same position this week and what I've been doing
>having the kids who finish early start on "patterned ink drawings". You'll
>need paper (cardstock works great) about 9x12 (or whatever you've got) and
>ultrafine black sharpies.
>The kids have to start in a corner or in the center and do a small shape
>(visualize an arc in a corner). Within this shape they have to create some
>sort of pattern (such as a checkerboard idea). After finishing that, they
>start another small design that touches the first one, and fill in a
>pattern. Everything has to touch whatever came before it, so the whole
>thing sort of grows across the paper.
>After a few times of this (checkerboard, small dots, polka dots, hatching,
>cross-hatching) tell them to look at the edges of the negative space to see
>what the shapes suggest. They might see a mountain, a bird, a
>profile--whatever. They then draw that small picture. Whatever comes
>next--even if it's, again, a textured pattern--is touching the part that
>This is something they SHOULDN'T finish in a class period--not if they're
>working fairly small and including lots of visual texture. It's a good way
>to introduce the concepts of line, texture, contrast, positive/negative
>space, etc. as well as a way to get them to slow down and make constructive
>use of otherwise idle time.
>One girl today said she couldn't think of anything else to draw (what to
>draw next) and I told her to turn the paper around--that there didn't have
>to have a definite up and down to it, and that she didn't really need to
>"think." When she did that, she "saw" an outline of a tree in the negative
>space and was off on it again.
>The kids have LOVED this and they've begged me to let them take it to their
>classes to work on when they're bored during lectures (not a chance!)
>Another kid called me over today and said he kept seeing pigs in the
>negative spaces--so he drew them--in and around all of the other
>geometric/organic shapes and designs.
>These are turning out exceptionally well and I plan to mount them on black
>construction paper and display them. It's high-level "doodling" but I'm
>learning a lot about my kids--not only about their drawing skills, but
>their interests and what they "see."
>If you don't have ultrafine sharpies I gues you could use regular fine tip
>colored markers, but the black and white designs are really quite
>impressive. If I can find the disk with a scanned version, I'd be happy to
>send you a picture.
>My next problem is going to be making them put these away so we can start
>the next major project!!