Picture partners: A Co-creative Journey into Visual Literacy

This article describes an integrated art and early literacy project entitled, ‘Picture Partners’. The main purpose of the project was to explore how young children create and express meaning through art. Children’s responses, both written and spoken, were included because accompanying modes of expression expand the nature and content of their drawings and inform teachers about children’s intentions and processes of thinking. A secondary purpose was to investigate how children use illustrations from familiar picture books as models for their own creations and whether children’s responses to stories might be enhanced through their collaboration with peers. Partnerships were formed and participants worked in close proximity as they drew pictures in response to a teacher directed prompt. Using qualitative, interpretative analysis, a small subset of drawings produced by kindergarten and first grade children was examined. The results revealed that the process of drawing was influenced by illustrations in picture books, peer interactions, and the artwork of partners in close proximity. The shift in emphasis away from the interpretations of visual realism in children’s drawings towards their own purposes allowed readers to focus on the way drawings represent meaning within children’s sociocultural worlds.

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