Help your young artist to draw using patterns.

How to Make Drawing Patterns for Kids

by Erica Loop

While free drawing is certainly an artistically awesome activity to help your child be creative, sometimes kids in preschool and under can have trouble drawing what they want to make. If your little learner is struggling to make her own drawings, help her out and create patterns for her to use as a guide. Don't worry if you aren't exactly an artist in your own right. Making drawings patterns for your young child doesn't take a master. Simply choose a theme, such as animals or outer space, and get drawing.

Draw the pattern onto a piece of cardboard. Instead of buying new, recycle the side of an appliance, moving or packing box. If you are making a cat face pattern for your child, draw a plate-sized circle onto a piece of cardboard with two triangles at the top for ears. Draw the shapes freehand if you feel up to the task. Use an object such as a paper plate to help you if your circles look more like lopsided cookies that came out of the oven wrong.

Cut the pattern out with scissors. Test it on a piece of construction paper to make sure that it is easy to trace around. If it doesn't happen to look like the picture that your child wants to draw, start over or make the appropriate adjustments. If your cat's ears are so tiny that the tracing looks like a beach ball with two carrots at the top, re-draw the pattern on another piece of cardboard and make the triangle ears larger. Don't waste the not-so-great pattern. Cut or draw another shape inside of it and turn it into a simple geometric stencil. In the cat example, you can cut the ears off to make a circle template that can double as a soccer ball or person's face.

Make a puzzle-piece patchwork of your patterns for your child to enjoy. While making full-on designs might work well for your toddler or younger preschooler and her scribbling artistic ability, you might feel like your pattern making means that you are doing all of the work when it comes to an older preschooler. Don't put together an entire picture pattern. Cut out basic shapes that your child can puzzle together to make her own design. This will help her to put her own individual touch on the drawing and build her problem-solving skills. Instead of drawing a house outline, create square and triangle patterns. Encourage your child to put them together to make a house.

Laminate the shapes to make this a more than one-time activity. If you don't have a fancy laminating machine available -- and not many moms do -- create your own covering. Dot non-toxic clear drying school glue on the front of the pattern, moving around the outer edge and into the center. Stretch a piece of clear plastic wrap over the glue. Press down firmly. Turn the pattern over. Dot the other side with glue. Tightly wrap the plastic wrap around the back, pulling it taught at the edges. Cut off any excess. Glue down any loose ends. Wipe any stray marker lines with a damp paper towel after your child uses the pattern.

Help your child to hold down the patterns on a piece of construction paper. She can draw around the edges with a marker to create her own masterpiece.

Items you will need

  • Cardboard
  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Clear drying school glue
  • Plastic wrap


  • Make a few different patterns to give your little one a variety to choose from.
  • Size the patterns differently. Instead of making only one size of designs, try a variety. For example, make golf ball-sized circles, rectangles that are the size of your foot and triangles that are as big as a dinner plate.


  • Only use non-toxic, child-safe art materials. Look for the Art and Creative Materials Institute logo for safety certification.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images