The Benefits of Making a Plan

Annie came to the studio to make a car. She had made a few cars before out of small boxes, painted and covered in sparkles. She never seemed very satisfied with these cars, which were not very car-like. This time, I asked her to draw a plan, hoping she could form a clear idea of the car she would make before selecting any materials. Left on her own, she drew the shape above. It seemed to me she could benefit from slowing down and thinking more about how to make a car, so I scooted in and asked "I see this plan. Let's think about cars. What does a car have?"

She then drew the 4 larger circles above. "These are the wheels" She said.
"O.k. What else does a car have?"
"It has a body" she said, drawing the bell shape. I asked "how can you connect those wheels to the body of the car?"
Annie thought about it for a minute, and then she drew new wheels under the car's body. Finally she noted that cars have windows, and added them to her drawing.

Sometimes visitors to the school are surprised at the realistic quality of even very young children's drawings, and wonder how much adults intervene in the process. I am not always perfect in how much or how little I interfere in children's process, and I know that it is something I am continuing to learn. However, I think it is important to realize that it doesn't take much, just a couple of well placed questions, to move a child toward a clearer representation of their thinking.


  1. This also works well for adults. Just a couple of well placed questions helps me move towards a clearer plan too!


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