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Ioanna Matsaridou

Childrens Drawings: Mirrors of Childrens Individual


Thoughts - A Case Study in a Maltese Preschool Setting

Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the


Erasmus Mundus joint degree International Master of Early
Childhood Education and Care

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences


Dublin Institute of Technology
University of Gothenburg
University of Malta

August 2015

Declaration

I hereby certify that the material which is submitted in this


thesis towards the award of the Masters in Early Childhood
Education and Care is entirely my own work and has not been
submitted for any academic assessment other than partfulfillment of the award named above.

Signature of candidate:

August 2015

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ABSTRACT

Ioanna Matsaridou
Childrens Drawings: Mirrors of Childrens Individual Thoughts - A Case Study in a
Maltese Preschool Setting

The importance of childrens engagement with visual arts has been officially addressed
by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child since 1989. Drawing has been
considered as one of the most popular activities for children in the preschool and home
environment. The interpretation of childrens drawings has been in the centre of
research for many years and has been viewed through different perspectives, cultures,
ages and various others factors.
The specific research project aims to investigate the association between childrens
drawings and childrens individual thoughts and ideas. The research project was based
on a qualitative approach and the researcher used as basic methodology the narration
of stories and as means for data analysis, the interpretation of childrens drawings
through semiotic approach. A group of six children, aged three-and-a-half and four,
participated and after a three-day project 16 drawings were offered to be analysed in
depth by the researcher. The children drew their own ending to the narrated stories,
inspired by their experiences, fantasy, individual thinking and personal ideas. The
factors that intrigued childrens drawings, the main concepts in their final artworks and
the stimuli their artworks originated from are discussed and analysed as final results.

International Master in Early Childhood Education and Care


August 2015

Keywords: drawings, process of drawing, childs individual thinking, childrens


experiences, early childhood education

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

It is impossible to shrink in one page all the opportunities, the new experiences and the
relationships that the IMEC offered me the last two years. Friends, happy memories,
knowledge, food and numerous travels followed my acceptance at the IMEC
programme and made a dream come true. All these memories will remain on my mind
to remind me this amazing journey forever.
I am very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Raphael Vella, for his valuable guidance and
feedback during the whole semester. In addition, I am all gratitude to the institutions
who hosted the IMEC group and the professors who shared with the IMEC students
their experiences, knowledge and aspects, travelling even from far away.
In addition, I would like to thank the preschool institution in Malta for offering me the
opportunity to carry out my research project and mostly, my amazing young
participants who, through their drawings, revealed their inner world to me.
At the end, I would like to thank my family for supporting me all these years and always
challenging me to follow my dreams. A big thank to my IMEC friends as well, Trude
and Mayra, who shared with me every important moment the last two years and will
always occupy a place in my heart, even if they are so far away. And finally, words are
powerless to express my gratitude to Tasos who has stayed by my side every single
moment. Thank all of you for being in my life.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION...1


1.1. Rationale1
1.2. Research aim and questions...2
1.3. Outline....3
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW.4
2.1. Introduction4
2.2. Beyond theories: the creation of mind...4
2.3. Story telling as stimulus for revealing childrens ideas and thought.............7
2.4. The importance of drawings (visual arts).10
2.5. Understanding childrens drawings..11
2.5.1. Drawing and speech....12
2.5.2. Children and audience.....13
2.5.3. The concept of drawing...14
2.5.4. The figures...15
2.5.5. Drawing and colors.17
2.5.6. The process of drawing...18
2.5.7. The power of imagination...19
2.6. Conclusion.20
CHAPTER THREE: DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY..22
3.1. Introduction...22
3.2. The qualitative research....22
3.2.1. Research with children as active participants.22
3.3. The visual data..23
3.4. The project24
3.4.1. The early childhood setting.24
3.4.2. The sampling of participants...24
3.4.3. Stage one.25
3.4.4. Stage two.26

3.5. Data collection..26


3.6. Ethical considerations...27
3.7. Limitations28
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS...29
4.1. Introduction...29
4.2. Engaging the children with the project.29
4.3. Day 1.30
4.3.1. The drawing process.......31
4.3.2. The materials...35
4.4. Day 2.37
4.4.1. The family concept..37
4.4.2. The home environment...39
4.4.3. The violent concept.40
4.5. Day 3.........41
4.5.1. The repetition..41
4.5.2. When logic dominates.....43
4.6. The story time46
4.7. The contribution of conversations.47
4.8. The teachers interaction...49
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION.51
5.1. The drawings.51
5.2. The story time52
5.3. The drawing process..53
5.4. The preschool teachers contribution54
5.4. Challenges and influential factors for the final artworks..54
CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION.57
6.1. Conclusion.57
6.2. Implications and recommendations...59
REFERENCES...60

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APPENDICES....67
Appendix A: Gatekeeper letter................67
Appendix B: Invitation letter and consent form for the staff...69
Appendix C: Invitation letter and consent form for the parents...71
Appendix D: Consent forms for the children...74
Appendix E: The stories used during the project.75

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Pseudonyms as they were used for each child...28
Table 2: The drawing materials...........36
Table 3: The content of childrens drawings: total number of drawings: 16...50

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

Their pictures can be a thousand words if you let them tell their stories (Soundy,
2012, p. 45)
1.1. Rationale
Childrens rights have been addressed and officially recognised by the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the child (UNCRC) in 1989. According to Article 13,
children have the freedom to share their thoughts and any information through drawing
and, based on Article 31, children can engage themselves to any playful activities,
related to arts (UNCRC, 1989). One of the most preferable kinds of arts in preschool
settings is visual arts. In general, visual arts can be employed for educational reasons
and offer opportunities for learning (Eckhoff, 2007) while the engagement with visual
arts is a pleasant and creative activity, popular in all age and groups and environments
(Soundy, 2012). It is thought to be a constructive and participative process where the
final art works can be ideas that take shape from childrens experience. In the majority
of curriculums, engagement with visual arts is basic from a very early age stage, even
from the birth of a child, in primary education (Eckhoff, 2007).
Representations of childrens unique ideas and individual thoughts can be actualised
through the open-ended resources offered by drawing (Wright, 2007). A blank page
and colored pens can become anything (Wright, 2007, p. 38). More specifically,
drawing seems to be the most popular activity among those activities children choose
to spend their time with in preschool settings (Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013; Papandreou,
2013), and is one of the basic methods for teachers to promote learning. A drawing can
be seen as a scale of childrens cognitive, psychological and emotional development
(Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011) and every single detail figures, colours, shapes, contents
and other characteristics that drawings can indicate - is possible to be analysed and
processed. But can a drawing reveal something deeper that is not visible at first sight?
How much can childrens drawings reflect of their experiences outside the educational
setting and away from what they have been asked to draw? How powerful and revealing
can their drawings be?
Brooks (2009) and Soundy (2012) highlight the importance the children attribute to
drawing and reading drawings of others. In addition, the activity of drawing is
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considered a meaning making visual activity, through which educators have the
opportunity to associate childrens thinking with the final artworks of drawing
(Papandreou, 2013). Drawing can be considered as speech substitute and every child
during the drawing process is given the opportunity to express its thoughts through
various ways, using, instead of words, brushes, crayons, markers or any other available
materials (Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011). In the present dissertation, meaning making will
be seen from an adult perspective and the analysis of childrens drawings will be the
main task.

1.2. Research aim and questions


The aim of the research is to examine how, through the process of drawing and the final
artworks, the children can depict their own personal thoughts, their experiences and
their ideas. More specifically, the connection between childrens thoughts and their
actual representation will be researched, using a methodology of stories narration to
intrigue children unfold their thoughts on the paper. Through the following research
questions, the researcher will attempt to reach a concrete final result:
1. How does the process of creating an artwork (drawing) help children present
their individual thoughts and ideas?
2. What factors can influence the final result of an artwork inside the preschool
setting?
3. How are the childrens ideas projected on their final art products?
4. How much do teachers influence the childrens way of expressing their ideas
during the art process?
5. What challenges do children deal with in order to create the art product they
want?
6. In what grade can the method of story narration contribute to reveal childrens
thinking?

The last research question is focused on storytelling, which is going to be the researchs
basic methodology. The power of storytelling assembles on the ability that stories have
to unfold the psychological, cognitive and emotional aspects of a child (Brandley &
Donovan, 2012; Lubetsky, 1989). Intrigued by the narrated stories, children can be
more inspired to express their individual thoughts and offer the researcher the
opportunity to interpret the drawings and their deeper meaning.

1.3. Outline
The dissertation consists in six chapters. In the beginning, the researcher explains the
rationale of the specific study and the main research questions that are going to be
answered through the whole project. Consequently, an overview of relevant literature
analysis follows. The literature is based on theories about the creation of childrens
mind, perspectives about the importance of storytelling as stimulus and a deep analysis
about ideas and signs that can guide someone to interpret a childs drawing. In the third
chapter, the methodology and details of the project will be presented, while limitations
and ethical considerations are also part of the specific chapter. The data analysis will
follow on chapter four and the childrens drawings will be presented and analysed from
different perspectives and based on various factors. At the end of chapter four a table
with the final results, including indicators about the content of the drawings and other
factors that influenced childrens drawings, will be available. The discussion of the
results is part of chapter five, in which the researcher will indicate a concrete result
related to the topic and the research questions based to previous findings. Concluding,
in chapter six the researcher will give some recommendations on the possible impact
the results may have and for further research.

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Introduction
The part of literature review that is being analysed below presents an overview of
theories, perspectives and topics that assisted the researcher in shaping a holistic idea
on the relation between childrens drawings and childrens individual thoughts, ideas
and personal experiences. In the beginning, the researcher provides a short introduction,
including some general information about arts and visual arts. Consequently, theories
and perspectives on the creation of childrens minds and their experiences are analysed,
trying to look deeper in the way children think and act, based on their thoughts and
experiences. The use of storytelling as a starting point and a stimulus for shaping
childrens ideas is crucial to be explored, as the researcher uses storytelling as basic
method for the project in an attempt to help children express their thoughts. To
conclude, the importance of drawings and the different ways to understand and
elaborate on childrens drawings are discussed from a variety of perspectives, taking
into consideration the various researches conducted.

2.2 Beyond theories: the creation of mind


Vygotsky, one of the most popular developmental psychologists, gained a lot of fame
after his death as he was either strongly criticized by those who could not understand
him, or glorified by the rest who supported his theories (Gillen, 2000). Fleer (2013)
cites Vygotsky and his view that, through experiences, the child can liberate itself from
something familiar, explore and reach the unknown. In other words, the child has the
ability to take an initial idea, reform it in his/her mind, use the tools that visual arts can
offer (for example brushes, cameras, colours) and find ways to represent it. Throughout
the whole experience, from the first capture of the scenario until the final artwork, the
child creates and learns (Fleer, 2013). In this process, according to Bruner (1984), who
presents Vygotskys psychological theories, consciousness and the mental events (p.
93) taking place in childrens minds play an important role. The child, according to
Vygotsky, becomes conscious of concepts, actions and feelings (as cited in Fleer,
2013, p. 114). It can act following the main idea as a pathway to whatever he/she wants
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to create and by using objects as stakeholders for an idea (p. 114) can give shape and
form to his/her thoughts (Fleer, 2013). The completion of an activity depends on the
degree of organic development (p. 21) and the skillfulness the child has with the tools
used. (Vygotsky, 1978).
Vygotsky was focused more on the process than on the final results an activity can have,
and he was interested in the results that the unexpected can have on the completion of
an activity (Vygotsky, 1978). In addition, Vygotsky supported that, by provoking
difficulties or differentiations in a routine day or activity, children could achieve a better
and more meaningful development, during which the process is at the centre and not
the outcomes (Vygotsky, 1978). Observing the children during tasks/activities gives the
preschool teachers important insight; it is a useful and effective way to understand how
the child is thinking in order to accomplish a task (Vygotsky, 1978).
Childrens drawings should be regarded as childrens words (Vygotsky, 1978). For a
child, speech can be very important even in situations that are not needed, because
children solve practical tasks with the help of their speech, as well as their eyes and
hands (p. 26), and during these speech - the egocentric speech - children may reveal
their individual thoughts (Vygotsky, 1978). The psychologist argued that the mind is
culturally constructed, influenced by social factors and generated by dialogue with
contextual world (Rolling, 2006, p. 14), but Rolling (2006) developed this theory by
supporting that mind re-interprets the contextual. (Rolling, 2006, p. 14). The
drawings that children present at an early age are readable, since they can become
stories of childrens identities and can show how people feel and who people are in real
life (Rolling, 2006).
Piaget was the first developmental psychologist who dealt with childrens egocentric
speech and set the base for Vygotsky to complete the theoretical aspect of this
perspective. Piaget named the dialogue the children have with themselves, without
including other interlocutors, as egocentric speech and considered this speech to be
useless and quite puzzling for adults to understand, but Vygotsky looked deeper and
placed emphasis on this speech as a link to the childs mind, since the egocentric speech
helps children solve their problems and express themselves freely, without considering
whether adults can understand them (Crain, 2011). This speech is the childs social
communication. Piaget, in general was referring to the egocentric character the children

can develop in absence of a different perspective other than their own and a weakness
to interpret the world like adults can (Shantz & Watson, 1971). In Piagets theory, the
final artwork the drawing is the result of an idea that is being shaped in someones
mind (Crain, 2011). As soon as this idea is complete and shaped on the paper, it can be
deleted from someones mind (Crain, 2011). First the idea is born in someones mind
and then it takes shape (Carin, 2011) but, on the other hand, there is always this
perspective in which a lot of artworks do no start based on a specific idea, but the
process helps the artist to get inspired and create the final artwork. (Mandelbrojt &
Mounoud, 1971).

According to Malaguzzi, children have the ability to explore visual arts while hands
and mind will engage each other with great, liberating merriment (Edwards, Gandini
& Forman, 1998, p. 74). Providing children with the opportunity to represent their own
world through visual arts, such as drawing, painting or quilt, gives them an
understanding of various ways of expression besides reading or writing (Binder &
Kotsopoulos, 2011). Children represent complex ideas through drawings in a way that
can be much more reflective than writing (Brooks, 2009). Tarr (2001), in her article,
presents the value of arts in the preschool of Reggio Emilia, where children inside the
atelier and with the aid of the atelierista a teacher specialized in arts - are prompted
to communicate their ideas visually (p. 10), by using arts in an environment that
enhances the aesthetics and creativity of the child.

According to Dewey, children relate thinking with personal experience (1910). In his
book How we think, Dewey describes the determinant role the preschool teacher
plays for a child, based on the perspective that the mental habits of others affect the
attitude of the one being trained (p. 47). Adults parents or teachers offer the child
a ground for imitation (Dewey, 1910). On the contrary, the world of arts offers the child
a door to communication and, according to Priddis and Howieson (2010), an Australian
research has indicated that art or dialogue with the family concept can reveal the
relationship and the emotions between a child and the mother caregiver, since children
at that early age express their feeling sad or happy by using words.

Children think in a coherent and integrated way and their experiences are not
disconnected but fragmented, following their whole life (Dewey, 1902 as cited in
Bentley, 2011). Emphasis, therefore, should be given to training someones mind in
order to make the most of it (John Locke as cited in Dewey, 1910).
Moving from theories to practice, and since the basic tool of this research in exploring
childrens individual thoughts will be storytelling, it is useful to look at the stories; the
stories as method for data analysis and collection; the power of the storytelling as an
efficient - or not - tool for entering childrens mind. What do other research and
perspectives say about the association of storytelling and childrens thoughts?

2.3. Story telling as stimulus for revealing childrens ideas and thoughts
Humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives
(Connelly & Clandinin, 1990, p. 2). In the educational system, teachers and children
are storytellers, who can construct and narrate their own stories or just well-known
stories (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990). Stories are the kind of art that has the greatest
impact on children and serves as a tool for education: the kind of stories that parents
tell their children today, are the same that teachers tell their students (Allen, 2002).
Until today, the selection of the stories to be narrated to children has been very careful
and focused on moral valued stories (Allen, 2002), but there has been a debate on
whether moral stories in general can set the basis for parents and educators to raise
honest children (Lee, Talwar, McCarthy, Ross, Evans & Arrunda, 2014). By their
second or third year, children start to lie and by late childhood it is very difficult for an
adult to understand whether a child is telling the truth or is lying (Lee et al., 2014). The
results on Lees et al. (2014) research indicated that stories that promote the positive
effects of sincerity can influence children on being more honest and express their real
thoughts. Nowadays, the media, the home environment, the picture books and the adults
that surround the young children are childrens materials for their scenarios and stories
(Soundy & Genisio, 1994). The parents, and especially the mothers who have the
dominant time to communicate with their children and narrate stories to them are the
first persons in childrens lives who can influence the verbal and language development
of a child (Fekonja-Peklaj, Marjanovic-Umenc & Kranjc, 2010).

It is very important for the early childhood educators to provide the proper stimuli to
the children in order to make their imagination alive and help them express their ideas
(Soundy, 2012). Children can make meaning from verbal and visual stimuli to shape
their ideas and express them in different ways (Soundy, 2012). Stories seem to be the
kind of art that most influences children (Allen, 2002). Children at young age need
simple stories, with a few characters, easy to understand and not confusing (Soundy,
1993).
The power of storytelling focuses on the ability that stories has to enable children think
and express their thoughts, develop themselves psychologically and cognitively and
reduce the stress or any negative feelings that children may have (Lubetsky, 1989).
Furthermore, stories and tales can have important effects on mathematical concept
development (Zembat & Zlfikar, 2012, p.603), while at the same time they can be
both educational and amusing for children (Lee et al., 2014; Tsitsani, Psyllidou,
Batzios, Livas, Ouranos, & Cassimos, 2010) and have a therapeutic impact on physical
and mental diseases (Tsitsani et al., 2010; Lubetsksy, 1989). During the story time,
children need to pay attention to the preschool teacher or the parents in order to get
engaged to the concept of the story. For this reason, story narrations can enhance
childrens ability to be concentrated and more attentive to the story activity (Zembat &
Zlfikar, 2006).
It is essential for children to come in contact with storytelling within their family
(Tsitsani et al., 2010) and preschool environment, due to the fact that stories can lead
to the general development of the child (Bradley & Donovan, 2012). Storytelling has
been used from parents to their children, even from the age of childrens birth, as a way
of communication, learning and entertainment (Lubetsky, 1989). Stories, as an
attractive educational tool, have the ability to foster childrens emotional relationships
with the storytellers and allow children to feel comfortable to express their inner world
(Bradley & Donovan, 2012), since the world of aesthetics and stories has been viewed
as means of discovering new strategies to communicate and show childrens unique
thoughts and emotions (Soundy, 2012). From the very beginning of the process of
narration, the children need to know that they have a voice and are welcome to be part
of this narration (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). Time and space are also important to
be clarified from the beginning, to make them feel free to open the doors for expression
(Connelly & Clandinin, 1990).
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Trying to guess the ending of a story can be revealing and indicative of the creativity
of a childs mind (Soundy & Drucker, 2012). Nowadays, it seems that fairy tales are a
representative means for children to share their desires and express their agonies and
inner conflicts (Tsitsani et al., 2010, p. 266, Lubetsky, 1989). When children have
active participation during the storytelling time, they are able to open their minds to the
audience, by using their speech, and make their own personal reflections, mostly
originated from their individual experiences (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990)
Free narration offers space for improvisation and gives the child the opportunity for
more energetic participation (Tsitsani et al. 2010). Tsitsani et al. (2010) highlighted the
power of storytelling to make a child realise its real character and abilities. At the same
time, there is always a moral lesson behind every story (Tsitsani et al., 2010). The
language used by preschool teacher during storytelling must be simple and
understandable for the children, compatible with their cognitive language skills
(Massey, 2004). In addition, the preschool teacher can associate parts of the stories with
personal experiences, so that the children will be more engaged to the stories and
understand through real examples the ideas and the values that the story seeks to
transmit (Massey, 2004).
Sobel and Weisberg (2012) conducted a research project - with children aged four- in
which, by making their stories consistent with regard to the fictional worlds internal
coherence they stressed there is a general preference towards peaceful rather than
violent stories (p. 465). A child may come to realize that its violent fantasy is not
unusual and, thus, feel comfortable among other children (Lubetsky, 1989). Children
around the age of four tend to pick violations of physical causality more often than
violations of biological causality (Sobel & Weisberg, 2012, p. 472). The young readers
deal with their inner problems and any kind of anxiety and stress through the
development of their mind (Bettelheim, 1976).
The power of stories and fairy tales is summarised in the fact that they have been ageless
and widespread, but their psychodynamic utility was not researched until the 20th
century (Tsitsani et al., 2010).

2.4. The importance of drawings (visual arts)


Childrens drawings are considered to be a fundamental childhood activity (Farokhi
& Hashemi, 2011; Arapaki & Zafrana, 2004, p. 44) and have attracted a lot of interest
from psychologists, practitioners, artists and other experts (Arapaki & Zafrana, 2004)
but a few frameworks exist examining childrens artwork or the process that reveals
communicative intentions and differing purposes for drawing (Soundy, 2012, p. 46).
Childrens drawings can be seen as means of communication and presentation of both
real and imaginary ideas, can show the development of individual thinking (Soundy,
2012) and are considered the most efficient way of making meaning with children, after
verbal communication (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013). Through drawing and visualisation,
children can reach a higher level of thinking (Brooks, 2009). Their artworks are
valuable and give adults the opportunity to read childrens minds and maybe understand
their thinking (Soundy, 2012). The way in which children deal with specific items,
persons or situations in their drawings can reveal their feelings for these specific items,
persons or situations (Eisner, 2002, p.113). According to Buhler, the initiatory time for
the activity of drawing occurs after spoken speech begins and especially after some
speech progress is made (Vygotsky, 1978). In the initial stages, children draw by
memory, figures and items they already are familiar with (Vygotsky, 1978). They do
not seem to anticipate perfection or naturalism; in their pictures symbolism prevails
over naturalism (Vygotsky, 1978). Hopperstad (2008) cites Kress to indicate that,
through childrens drawings, we can see the world through the childrens eyes, even if
this perspective is not representative of the naturalistic features.
Children articulate their experiences and ideas better in activities where they are active
participants and free to express themselves without hesitation (Lomax, 2012).
Drawing provides for children a way to self-report, in a way that is free from the
limitations of survey instruments and interviews (Robinson, Zurcher & Callahan,
2014, p. 3). A drawing can be seen as the visual representation of a childs thoughts or
ideas (Brooks, 2009; Bentley, 2011; Soundy, 2012). Childrens artworks can depict
experience related to a specific context or show a desired outcome related to the topic
they draw (Merriman & Guerin, 2012). According to Merriman and Guerin (2012),
children often want to make the world a better place by organising it according to their
own understanding.

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Drawings can be used as records for childrens cognitive growth and development
(Brooks, 2009). Vygotsky (1978) and Hopperstad (2008) shared the belief that
drawings are actually the initial stage of childs written language. Soundy (2012) refers
to the ability children have in depicting something they have seen, imagined or thought.
The content of a drawing is influenced by a number of factors, such as family, school
environment and culture, giving preschool teachers a diversity to be examined (Soundy,
2012). Some research has proved that the size of the figures in childrens drawings can
be influenced by cultural conceptions of the self (Rbeling, Keller, Yovsi, Lenk,
Schwarzer & Khne, 2011, p. 406). But which are the clues to understanding and
reading a drawing?
There is a theory that children see drawing as a problem-solving activity (Soundy &
Drucker, 2012). The children use every symbolic representation possible, trying to
communicate creative and imaginative thoughts and feelings (Soundy & Drucker, p.
7). According to David (2005), children have a natural tendency to solve the problems
on their own and find out new ways of solving a problem through play, visual arts and
any other available media (Soundy and Drucker, 2012, p.8)

2.5. Understanding childrens drawings


Drawing is one of the most ancient activities (Arden, Trzaskowski, Garfield, & Plomin,
2014). The majority of children enjoy drawing not only in the preschool setting with
the stimuli of the educators, but also at home or at any environment, due to their own
desire to get engaged with this activity (Papandreou, 2013). Childrens drawings have
been interpreted developmentally, holistically, culturally and socio-culturally (Binder
& Kotsopoulos, 2011, p. 339). An in-depth analysis of the drawings is necessary in
order to understand childrens meaning through pictorial representations. Art is
childrens way to literacy. It serves to look deeper in childrens meaning making and
their inner world through their visual representations (Binder & Kotsopoulos, 2011).
The process of drawing can reveal a lot about the final artwork, since it is usually
accompanied by body movements, talk, sounds and writing that can reveal and be a
pathway to childrens thinking (Soundy & Drucker, 2012). Giving children a voice is
critical in defining their experiences and their realities, and eventually coming to
understand their ideas (Binder & Kotsopoulos, 2011). Jalousko highlighted how
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important it is for the educators to be confident with their own artistic ability (p. 270),
in order to offer their students the opportunity to be positively influenced and open to
the artistic process (as cited in Twigg, 2011). Teachers need to be able to interpret the
hidden meanings of a drawing that reveal a childs inner world (Soundy & Drucker,
2012).
It is interesting for a teacher to look at childrens artwork and analyse the way they
represent their arts (Wright, 2007). Wright (2007) in her article, analysing the childrens
meaning-making by drawing and storytelling, focuses on the creative skills that
children can develop by representing and explaining their own work. Through drawing,
for example, a child can depict his thoughts and set it in a context (paper) for what he
thinks, hopes and imagines (Wright, 2007). Even if the role of the arts is still not widely
recognised as a basic learning tool in some curriculums, it is hard to neglect that it is an
enjoyable activity for children and can be seen as a form of play (Eisner, 2002), since
drawing can offer a playing field on which they can experiment on new ideas and
techniques (Soundy & Drucker, 2012). Vygotsky (1978) referred to the speech that
accompanies the drawing process of a child and can be a reflection of its thoughts, while
at the same time except for speech, children also use gestures, which an adult can use
as explanatory tools for childrens thinking (Soundy, 2012). Van Oers (1997) supports
Vygotskys perspective in the way the children use verbal communication to support
their iconic representations, in order to be sure that their meaning is clear enough for
others.

2.5.1. Drawing and speech


Drawing is considered as the replacement of speech (Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011).
Childrens drawings can reveal their psychological mood in a direct way, which
includes facial expressions of the figures on paper, or in an indirect way through
figurative or non-figurative cues (Picard, Brechet & Baldy, 2007). Van Oerss research
(1997) focuses on the perspective of narrative function on childrens iconic
representations. More specifically, this research has proved the need for the children to
strengthen the meaning of their drawing with the help of the verbal factor. In this case
they feel comfortable that their representations will be completely understood and their
thoughts will be clear to the audience (van Oers, 1997). Speech enters into iconic
12

representation as a means to make explicit the implicit dynamic aspects of the childrens
intended meaning (van Oers, 1997, p. 244). As it has already been mentioned,
Vygotsky referred to childrens speech as a guidance for childrens activities (Crain,
2011). During the guided-speech, children express their thoughts and their mind
verbally, make direct comments to themselves and, in general, think loudly (Vygotsky,
1978). It is actually a type of analysing that starts with the childs socialisation and turns
into an intraphysic process, occurring within the child (Crain, 2011, p. 233). This
self-directed speech turns, eventually - at the age of eight - into an inner speech that
cannot be heard, but continues to exist. It is just not externalised any more (Crain,
2011). Vygotskys theory on childrens speech was merely based on Piagets theory
about egocentric speech. But their main difference lied in that Piaget considered this
speech to be an insufficiency of thinking on the part of children, while Vygotsky
reflected on the positive side of the egocentric speech, as a problem-solving activity. In
general, researchers believe that listening to children during the drawing process and
paying attention to their words, can be revealing of their personal identity and selfesteem characteristics (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013).

2.5.2. Children and audience


Analysing children can be an audience-bound process (Burkitt & Watling, 2013).
Children tend to trust and reveal information to a familiar or unfamiliar peer more easily
than to a familiar or unfamiliar adult. Awareness of an audience and particular
characteristics of different audiences influences childrens drawings (Burkirtt
&Watling, 2013, p. 232). Sheefeldt considers childrens artwork a way of
communication between the adult and the child (as cited in Twigg, 2011). Twigg
(2011) found out that children in their artworks can be really influenced by the adults,
who surround them and in general, childrens artworks show adults influence. It is
important that practitioners give attention not only to the materials the children use to
draw but also to the features of the drawing (Burkitt & Barrett, 2011). Hattie (2009)
and Durden & Dangel (2008) refer to the qualifications all the teachers need to have;
the basic principles that are important for an educator are ability of understanding
childrens minds, contexts and situations, to be passionate and able to provide proper
learning strategies for the children. Genishi claims that adults are the main

13

conversationalists (cited in Massey, 2004, p. 227) and that preschool teachers can be
the guides of the dialogues with the children in the early childhood setting during the
whole day and under any activity and time (Massey, 2004). The conversations between
teachers and children can be very useful for childrens cognitive development and at
the same time can reveal numerous information about childrens lives and experiences
(Durden & Dangel, 2008; Franse, 1998). Through the use of language and any
discussions that occur, it is possible for a teacher to understand the childs character
and the way of living and behaving in an environment, outside of the preschool setting
(Durden & Dangel, 2008). Socio-constructive theories support that the verbal
communication has been considered as the most direct and efficient way of meaning
making for childrens lives (Durden & Dangel, 2008).
The most important from the side of the preschool teacher is to leave children space to
feel confident and safe to open themselves and become with the teacher conversational
partners (Durden & Dangel, 2008, p. 255), so that they will be able to reveal their
experiences and the way of thinking more easily.

2.5.3. The concept of a drawing


Throughout the years there has been a lot of research, based on whether the childrens
emotions and thoughts about a concept can be represented in their drawings (Burkitt &
Sheppard, 2014; Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013; Burkitt, Barrett & Davis, 2003). A topic can
influence the childs artistic behaviour (Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). Childrens content
can include images from childrens dreams, mind reality or scenes from their everyday
lives (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013). Children have been found to alter their expressive
strategies when they are asked to draw an animate vs. an inanimate stimulus (Misalidi
& Bonoti, 2013, p.884).

Childrens art is a way of communication and this

communication can be expressed both verbally and non-verbally in drawing


(Papandreou, 2013; Wright, 2007). The total representation of the drawing can be
assembled by meaningful signs, images and pictorial ideas with gestures that enhance
their meaning (Wright, 2007, p. 37). The nature of the drawn topic (person vs. house)
would have a strong influence on the way the child and adult drawers select expressive
strategies (Picard, Brechet & Baldy, 2007, p. 254). Children can be influenced by facts
in their lives. Research made with Emirati children after the terrorist attack of
14

September 11, 2001 in United States showed that fear and panic could feature in
childrens drawings (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013). The context of drawing can be
influenced by the childs cultural and family environment, gender and individual
interests (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013).
One of the most popular representations on childrens drawings is the family-concept,
which represents usually the favourite family members, such as the parents or the
siblings (Leon, Wallace & Rudy, 2007; Fury, Carlson & Sroufe, 1997) and in the last
years this topic has been more researched though empirical research (Goldner & Scharf,
2011). Fury et al. (1997) highlight that the drawings the young children create with
family members can reveal any kind of hidden attitude and thoughts the children have
about the specific family members. The extremely big or small figures, unusual facial
characteristics or extremely big limbs can be considered as signs of anxiety and
discomfort for the children (Fury et al., 1997). In addition, research has indicated that
the mood and the general behaviour of the parents can be visible in childrens drawings,
since for example, children with depressed mothers have the tendency to present their
parents in their drawings on sad faces, revealing in that way their moods in real life
(Leon et al., 2007). Since family drawings can be considered as a way of childrens
self-report inside their families and as general family report from a childs perspective
(Goldner & Scharf, 2011), it is useful to be analysed deeply and not superficially. In
addition, their representations can indicate how safe the children feel within their
surrounded by their familys members (Goldner & Scharf, 2011).

2.5.4. The figures


Research has shown that the psychological state of the child plays an important role on
the way he/she chooses to express his/her thoughts. It has been stated that happiness
and sadness is expressed more often by children through the process of drawing
(Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). Shaban & Al-Awidi (2013) enhance this theory, by proving
that children prefer in general graphic language to promote their ideas and thoughts on
paper. It has been noticed that the size of the figures that the children draw can also
show their feeling about the specific figure, as the bigger and emphasised figures tend
to be considered positive, while the smaller ones can hide negative feelings (Burkitt &
Sheppard, 2014). Childrens moods can be depicted in the facial characteristics they
15

choose to give their figures/ animals/ humans or any other representatives of living
creatures (Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). The children start to show the modifications of the
mood in their drawn figures from age four to five while factors such as the age, the
topic and the adequate description can influence childrens expressionistic strategies
(Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). According to Brechet (2012) in boys drawings, the facial
characteristics of the figures are more intense, and they tend to draw in a higher scale
angry faces with more obvious details than the girls. In that case it is easier to recognize
on their drawings their mood about the specific person they draw (Brechet, 2012).
Farokhi & Hashemi (2011) present some drawing characteristics that can indicate
childrens moods and feelings. In a figure, the big size of the head, the limbs or facial
characteristics can be an indicator that children feel anxiety, depressed, skeptical or
unconfident about the drawn figure or a situation related to this figure (Farokhi &
Hashemi (2011). In some cases as well, violent representations would cause anxiety,
but according to Farokhi & Hashemi (2011), drawings that include violent concepts
should not be considered worrying, only in case they are continuously repeated on a
daily bases.
Sutton Smith (2001) discusses the tendency that children have at that early age to
express their power through play and playful activities in general, even if they have to
act violently in some cases by using intense moves, raising their voices and fighting
each other during play time. This attitude can originate from the fact that children feel
lack of power in their daily lives, since they are under adults control both at home or
the preschool environment (Sutton Smith, 2001). During the school time, children have
to obey the rules that are set by the preschool teachers, while at home childrens parents
control and allow or deter their actions, choices or behaviours. Under these
circumstances, children in general can have the feeling that their lives are controlled by
the adults, but through play and various activities with their peers they feel powerful
and capable of acting with no prohibition, since adults are absent at that time(Sutton
Smith, 2001).
The representation of the figures big or small is not always representative of
childrens feelings about the specific figures, but can simply be influenced by the
materials that are given to be used (Burkitt & Barrett, 2011). The younger children do
not usually draw very detailed figures, as the older ones do (Burkitt & Barrett, 2011).
Burkitt and Barrett (2011) stress the importance of deeper research on the materials the
16

children use on their representations as influential determinants of their representational


abilities in drawing. Shaban and Al-Awidi (2013) pointed out that the more violent
characteristics are present in boys pictorial representations than in girls. According to
Shaban and Al-Awidi (2013), identity is associated with belonging and
differentiation (p. 332). The identity of every child can make him/her unique in the
society he/she lives and can be representative of his/her special characteristics.
Arden, Trzaskowski, Garfield and Plomin (2014) conducted the first research,
associated with the relation of childrens drawing figures to genetic factors. Arden et
al. (2014) argue that the ability of a child at the age of four to be aware of all the
prominent characteristics of a faces figure on the paper can be associated with an
intelligent behavior (p. 1848) and general ability in drawing is a combination of
intellectual, motor, sensory aware, stimulated and cognitive skills.

2.5.5. Drawings and colours


Colours and emotions are related (Zentner, 2001). Zentner (2001) states that the
preference of colours in early childhood education can be considered as a way of
understanding childrens emotions and spiritual mood. Zentners research (2001) about
the relationship between the choice of colour and emotions, showed that yellow (bright
colour) was the main choice for the majority of children aged three and four,
representing happiness; black was representing sadness and red was representing anger.
The use of colours and the details on childrens drawing may vary, due to the emotions
they have about the specific topic, figure or item they choose to depict (Zentner, 2001;
Burkitts et al, 2003; Burkitt & Watling, 2013; Burkitt & Sheppard, 2014;). Burkitts et
al.s research (2003) in United Kingdom has proved that children tend to use their
more preferred colour for the positive figures/items and the less preferred colour
for the negative figure/items (p. 445). In addition, black has been the most commonly
used colour for the figures that generate negative emotions or have not been considered
positive by the children (Burkitt et al., 2003).
According to Goodman (1964) there are two different kinds of emotions expressed in a
drawing. The first ones belongs to the symbol itself and the second ones belongs to the
artist of the drawing (as cited in Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). In general, drawing with

17

colours, painting and sketching can be a firm outlet (p. 332) that leads to read
childrens emotions (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013).
The children can also express their moods and some characteristics of their personality
through the choice of the pencils they use for their drawings. According to Farokhi &
Hashemi (2011), childrens who like better pencils with fat point (p. 2221) tend to be
less outgoing and expressive than children who prefer the small point pencils.

2.5.6. The process of drawing


Lots of parents, practitioners and educators view drawing as an activity that needs to be
carried out without any intervention, as a laissez faire activity (Matthews, 2003 as
cited in Papandreou, 2013). Additionally, the process of drawing is mostly a solitary
activity, through which natural artistic development is allowed, something unusual in
childrens life, who are always guided and surrounded by people (Thompson, 2002 as
cited in Papandreou, 2013). Children, before they start their drawing, they choose
cautiously in their minds the materials that are going to use for their artwork, the
colours, the concept and the starting point of their drawings (Farokhi & Hashemi,
2011).
Children tend to observe the world that surrounds them and through their eyes and their
understanding they have the ability to interpret it through their eyes and their
understanding (Papandreou, 2013). In this stage, they have their own semiotic ways to
communicate and the process of drawing can be seen as a mediator for their thoughts
and expression. (Papandreou, 2013). Discourse creates the socially embedded
latticework across which our sustainable patterns our stories, our images, our texts
are blended and rearranged (Rolling, 2006, p. 16). It is believed that childrens
drawings project the way they see themselves in the social context and, therefore, the
way they will grow up and live their lives (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013). The drawings
can be affected by cultural factors. Kellogg (1970) claims that childrens visual
representations have a global character and reveal common characteristics all around
the world (as cited in Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011), but on the other side, Allands theory
presents the aspect that every culture has the power to affect and differentiate childrens
drawings from the rest of the other cultures (as cited in Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011).
Farokhi & Hashemi (2011) support that the cultural differences are visible on childrens
18

drawings, even though the way that children think about their drawings can be similar
all around the world.

2.5.7. The power of imagination


From the beginning of 1930s Ruth Griffiths, in her book A study of imagination in
early childhood, focused on childrens fantasy and thinking (1935). The first step for
children is to create symbols. Through the symbols, children represent their emotions,
desires, fears always in relation to their mind. Childrens minds develop the ideas and
the solutions of a problem in different stages. These stages happen successively and
there is a variation in the development of ideas from stage to stage. According to
Griffin, there are three stages in childrens drawings: the drawings in the first stage
present the main idea the child has about an object, without any reference or direct
observation of the object itself (p.188). The second stage includes the drawings where
the objects are just copied and in the third stage some attempt is made to show three
dimensional stage (p. 188). Still drawings continue to be an important way of reaching
the imagination of the child. Children choose to represent objects and figures they are
more interested in and in these representations they can show their emotions about the
specific items.
In general, global research has indicated that children have the ability to think, act and
live in situations that fantasy and reality can be mixed (Woolley, 1997). According to
Woolley (1997), one of the most evident proofs of this reality is that children
especially the younger ones - spend a lot of time on pretend play, giving voices or
special powers to animals, making imaginary friends or improvising scenarios that are
impossible to happen in real life. Their extremely active imagination and the results of
their thinking can be influenced nowadays in a big scale by the means of
communication, which dominate in childrens life and affect childrens way of thinking
and acting in the social context (Taylor, 2003), while at the same time the social context
that children are being raised in and the impacts the culture can have play a determining
role for the content of childrens imaginary thinking (Hawkins, 2002).
Vygotsky also supports the idea that the theoretical conceptions of imagination
(Eckhoff & Urbach, 2008, p. 180) provide the opportunity for adults to understand how
creative childrens experiences are. According to Vygotsky the brain is not only the
19

organ that stores and retrieves our previous experience, it is also the organ that
combines and creatively reworks elements of this past experience and uses them to
generate new propositions and new behaviour (Vygotsky, 1930, p. 9 as sited in
Eckhoff & Urbach, 2008, p. 180). Since imagination is not separate from our lived
experiences, it is a process that includes our personal experiences as human beings
during our life (Eckhoff & Urbach, 2008).
Rinkevich (2011) emphasises on the basic role that creative teaching can have for
childrens lives. The ability of a teacher to be creative inside the preschool classroom
and intrigue childrens minds and fantasy, is determinant for preparing children with
active imagination and setting the basis for a general upcoming academic success
(Rinkevich, 2011, p. 219). Creative teaching does not only allow the opening of
childrens way of thinking, but also has the power to engage the children easily to the
activities and let them express themselves and make their thoughts known to others in
a more confident way (Rinkevich, 2011). But these factor are highly influenced by the
perspective that every teacher has, concerning the term creativity (Rinkevich, 2011),
a very complicated term that has been researched for many years and seen from various
aspects (Barron & Harrington, 1981).

2.6. Conclusion
Human beings have the need and the ability to externalise and express their shared
experience to other persons of the social group they belong to (Vygotsky, 1978) and at
the same time, they express a way of self-discovery (Rolling, 2006, p. 7). Arts present
the existent experiences of the students (Rolling, 2006). This results from the fact that
artists share their lived experiences through their art works and their art is actually
transformed into transcended configurations (van Mannen, 1990, p. 74 as cited in
Rolling, 2006). Regarding early childhood education, there has been a lot of research
that has proven the connection between a childs drawings and the expression of its
emotions and knowledge through the drawings (Burkitt & Watling, 2013). For the
young children the art has great meaning (p. 271) and their artworks reveal the lives
of the children and are considered by them as an extension of his or her human being
(Twigg, 2011, p. 271) and projections of themselves (Shaban & Al-Awidi, 2013).

20

Indeed, some researchers regard it as a pleasant prewriting activity that reinforces the
development of fine motor skills, mainly using adult-directed activities and some others
may think that drawing is a means of expression, yet not as important and useful as
writing and reading (Papandreou, 2013). However, in the end, drawing is regarded a
solitary process for expressing childrens inner reality, experiences, and emotions
(Papandreou, 2013) and can reveal childrens psychological, cognitive and motor
development (Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011).

21

CHAPTER THREE: DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

3.1. Introduction
This chapter describes the processes of the research and the methods the researcher
used in order to collect the data needed to associate childrens drawings and the process
of drawing with childrens individual thoughts and ideas. The specific research has been
carried out after the approval and written clearance of the University Research Ethics
Committee (UREC) in Malta.

3.2. The qualitative research


The specific project is a small qualitative and exploratory study based on participatory
methodologies, which set childrens thoughts and ideas at the centre of analysis.
Silverman (2006) presents the qualitative research as the intermediate between reality
and representation (p. 57), while Goodwin and Goodwin (1996) indicate the multiple
realities that qualitative research can show.
Research projects have been considered as fresh ways to interpret familiar events (p.
121) with validity, feasibility, critical interpretation and illuminations as determining
factors for the data results (Mac Naughton, Rolfe & Slraj-Blatchford, 2001).

3.2.1. Research with children as active participants


During the process of a research with children, there is always the probability of
unexpected surprises for the data results (Mac Naughton et al., 2001; Lambert &
Glacken, 2011). For this reason and to guarantee that the data will be easily collected
without any failed attempts, many researchers prefer to collect data about children by
interviewing adults (parents/teachers/other experts) instead of talking with children in
person, since they believe that this way they have more accurate results (Spratling, Coke
& Minick, 2012). The most important part in a research on children is to reach the
connection between the researcher and the young participants in order to allow children
to express themselves freely and share their thoughts without hesitation (Spratling et
al., 2012). A comfortable and familiar environment plays the most decisive factor that
22

can prevent the children from feeling anxious and reduce the risk of an unsuccessful
adaptation in a new and unfamiliar place (Barkel & Weller, 2003; Lambert & Glacken,
2011; Spratling et al., 2012).
The specific research can be seen as a research with phenomenological bases, since the
researcher aims to collect information about the experiences of the individuals, the
verbal and nonverbal communication among the active participants, through a
thematic description and interpretation (Spratling et al., 2012, p. 47). Even though
pure phenomenology (p.1) shows the individual perspectives, it still is a basically
descriptive rather than explanatory approach (Lester, 1999). On the other hand, there
are also principal parts that could relate the research with the ethnographic approach,
which includes: research on a specific group of childrens analyses, through a project
with main focus on the observation (in the specific case of the drawing process) while
data analysis is based on the researchers interpretation (Mac Naughton et al., 2001).
Mac Naughton et al., (2001) focus on research has been based on human actions that
are always understood as behaviours-with-meaning (p. 194). Since phenomenological
and ethnological approaches have overlapped in a lot of cases (Lester, 1999), it would
be inappropriate to categorise the specific research in a specific approach. A qualitative
approach with mixed methods would be more suitable for analysing the base of this
research project.

3.3 The visual data


Although visual media have been used for many decades in research (Silverman, 2006),
in recent years there has been an increase in the use of visual data for research purposes,
such as photographs and film records which can lead to a better data analysis (Flick,
2009). According to Mead (cited in Flick, 2009) photographs can provide and show
every little detail and are basic tools for recording facts and give the researcher the
opportunity to examine in a repeating basis the collected data. In addition, photographs
offer for an objective, critical analysis and observation of every detail, so that the
information they include is consequently used to present reality (Flick, 2009).

23

3.4. The project


The general concept of the project included three different stories at three different
days. These stories were unfinished and the researcher asked the young participants to
finish the stories by drawing their own special ending.

3.4.1. The early childhood setting


The research took place in a Maltese preschool setting. More specifically, an
Independent school, located in the centre of Malta, was the researchers preschool
setting. The specific preschool setting is a private institution and does not represent a
wide socio-economic variance, since the school fees can be affordable mostly by
families with a high financial soundness. The specific Independent school was chosen
because it is an English-speaking environment. Taking into account that the researcher
does not speak the local language (Maltese), it was necessary to choose a setting that
ensures the communicative language skills of the children. In addition, the specific
Independent school was huge, with more than six hundred children in both early years
and primary ages. Young children are engaged in visual arts activities on a daily basis
in the specific school.
In the chosen preschool class, for the research project, there was a preschool teacher,
an assistant and a learning assistant for a child with special needs. The preschool teacher
had the responsibility to distribute the consent forms and the invitation letters
(Appendix C and Appendix D) to the parents and the children before the project begun,
in order to introduce them to it. There were also consent forms and invitation letters for
the staff (Appendix B). The headmaster of the school, after meeting the researcher and
giving his permission for the conduction of the research, briefed the practitioner and
the school staff.

3.4.2. The sampling of participants


The research group was mixed-gender, which included six children aged three and a
half and four. More specifically, there were two male and four female children. All of
the children were capable of communicating in English, despite the young age, since in

24

the specific Independent preschool setting the English language was basically used
during the whole school time. The drawings of the children were captured with a camera
as photographed data and during the drawing process the researcher was keeping
observation notes about the process and the conversations that occurred. The
conversations between the participants and the researcher were unstructured and
contributed considerably to the data interpretation. The observation was held without
difficulties as all the children were sharing the same table during the research process.
The small number of the children, who paricipated in the project helps towards a
substantial analysis of the data, instead of having a bigger amount of data, as according
to Silverman (2006) the depth rather than breadth is the aim of experienced qualitative
researchers (p. 8) and can provide more accurate results. In addition, the small number
of children could allow the researcher to observe the drawing process as well as interact
with the children, in case the researcher was feeling s/he would like to ask something
useful for the data analysis or the children would like to share something related to their
drawings.

3.4.3. Stage one


Story telling: Story telling in the specific project served as stimuli to encourage the
children who participated to reveal their personal thoughts and their individual ideas.
As the kind of art that can most influence children (Allen, 2002), storytelling was
chosen instead of any other method to start the research project and connect the
researcher with the participants. The researcher used a different story every day. The
stories that were chosen and narrated to the children (Appendix E) were unfinished, to
encourage the children to imagine, create and draw their own ending. In Appendix E,
the point the researcher ended the story with and the main question that the researcher
asked the children before they continued the drawing process are both indicated. The
researcher used Greek stories, unknown to the children, so they did not have a familiar
ending. The purpose was to research whether children would create something new that
can be related to something more personal, inspired from their own experiences.
In the first story, entitled The magic pan (Appendix E) the main question the
researcher focused on was: What do you think the poor girl wished to have and asked
from the magic pan? In the second story The magic window (Appendix E) the
25

impelling question was: What do you think the little boy saw from the window?. The
question for the third and last story The Wooden Box (Appendix E) was: What do
you think the man found in the wooden box?
The time spent in the stories was short between five to seven minutes since the
researcher pursued to emphasise mainly on the drawing process and the childrens final
artworks.

3.4.4. Stage two


The process of drawing was mainly based on the childrens interactions while the
researcher engaged in informal and unstructured conversations that contributed to the
data interpretation at the data analysis in the next chapter. During the drawing process,
all of the children had the same shared materials to work with. On the first day, there
were crayons and colourful pencils, on the second day there was paint and on the last
day both crayons and paint were provided so the children could choose on their own.
The specific materials were chosen based on the familiarity the children had with these
drawing materials, so that the process could be completed without technical delays.

3.5. Data collection


According to Mac Naughton et al. (2001), qualitative research usually cannot include a
huge amount of participants and aims to present deeply analysed and solid results
(Goodwin and Goodwin, 1996).
The three different days of the project had a total production of 16 drawings that were
used as data for analysis. The open-ended stories gave the children the opportunity to
create and present their own ending according to their individual ideas, experiences and
thoughts. The items, heroes, situations or whatever the children drew in their final
drawings, showed how children express their personal ideas and the relationship
between their thoughts and the actual drawing. For the data analysis, childrens
drawings were firstly analysed per child in details. The three drawings of each child are
going to be presented and analysed together. At the analysis the researcher reveals

26

conversations that occurred. At the next stage, the drawings with similar content and
interests are presented and discussed.
The interpretation of childrens drawings will be based on the semiotic approach, an
approach that has gained a lot of importance in recent years and can be used for the
translation of visual communication languages (Trkcan, 2013). Semiotics is used for
nonlinguistic communication and the semiotic analysis can help for the visual
communication by explicating icons, symbols, forms and any visual signs that are
impressed on the paper (Trkcan, 2013, p. 601). But, since drawings produced in that
early age may not be easily understood or able to offer solid results, the conversations
during the process will be taken into consideration for the final results, too. A table with
details on the content of childrens drawings will be presented at the end of data
analysis.

3.6. Ethical Considerations


Following the global social changes on the right for childrens self-determination and
active involvement in decisions that affect them (UNCRC), research based on
childrens subjects promotes the childrens active participation (Lambert & Glacken,
2011). Ethical issues need to be taken into consideration, especially in this kind of
research, where the children were basic participants and their artworks were shown and
used as data. In order to ensure the success of the research, the school setting that was
finally chosen was open to research projects with children as active participants. There
are always circumstances that children may not willing to co-operate and participate.
For this reason, consent is always compulsory for children and the forms need to be
written in a simple and understandable language for the young participants (Spratling
et al., 2012).
Since the researcher came into contact and worked with the children, it was mandatory
that s/he took parental and school staff permission to do so. All the invitation letters
and the consent forms for the staff, the children, the parents and the gatekeeper are
included in Appendices A, B, C and D. In addition, all the information about childrens
identity needed to be treated confidentially. Pseudonyms were given to every child and
the school also remained anonymous. The table below presents the pseudonyms for the
children, as they were chosen randomly by the researcher and their ages.
27

Table 1. Pseudonyms as they were used for each child.


Name

Age

1. Sonia

2. Anna

3,5

3. Tina

3,5

4. Melina

5. Adam

3,5

6. Jordan

3,5

3.7. Limitations
Language could be a limitation as the researcher was not familiar with the local
language and there was possibility of misunderstanding between the participants and
the researcher. Fortunately, the language finally was not an inhibiting factor at all, as in
the chosen school both the children and the practitioners could communicate fluently
in English and contributed in the successful completion of the research project.
Time, though, was an important limitation for the research. The general time for the
research approval was very long and the researcher, by the time needed to carry out the
activities, had consent forms for only six children that could participate and their
drawings could be analysed and shown in the final thesis paper. In the last project day
two children were absent and research data were less.

28

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS

4.1. Introduction
The specific chapter presents the data (drawings) that emerged during the three-day
project and analyses the findings. The researcher describes each day separately and
reflects on various subjects that came up related to the topic. Additionally, the
discussions that occurred through the drawing process with the children are presented,
while at the same time the drawings of the children, their analysing and their responses
during the process and the story time is analysed. All the findings analysed will be
discussed in depth in the following chapter, in order to have a concrete result that can
answer completely the research questions.
4.2. Engaging the children with the project
Preparing a project with childrens active participation was very challenging and the
researcher kept always in mind Lamberts & Glackens perspective (2011) that there
are possibilities for surprises or unexpected results when someone works with children,
who may not wish to be observed and analysed. There was also the risk of declamation,
on the part of children, basically due to the fact that the researcher came in contact with
the specific children for the first time. Fortunately, all the children were very open and
demonstrative, willing to co-operate during the whole project and the researcher did not
really deal with serious problem that could affect the process and prevent the gathering
of information.
The main purpose of the project was to show the degree to which childrens drawings
can depict something originated from their personal experiences, their individual
thoughts and probably a part of their lives.
The basic communication link between the researcher and the children was the
storytelling, as an introduction of the three activities that occurred in three different and
consecutive days. All of the children expressed their interest from the beginning and
they were very curious at the end of the activity to know the ending of the stories that
told, even though in the mid-time they were preoccupied with the drawing part. The
stories were approved and welcomed by the children, who were very curious to learn
the original ending.

29

4.3. Day 1
The main tool for the researcher to start the connection with the children was a
storybook, in which the three different stories were
included. This storybook was used by the researcher
who was narrating every day a new story, without
an ending. The children got engaged directly by
asking questions before the researcher started the
narration: Is this the story book? Are the stories
yours?. They also where fascinated by the books
art, and the stickers they wanted to touch. Basically,
the main reason that the children were interested in
the stories before they even heard them was the fancy notebook that caught their
attention and the curiosity; they wondered about the stories in it, since they could not
open it and check themselves. They even asked to keep the book after the completion
of the project; their whole attitude accomplished a successful first contact with the
researcher and, as Burkitt & Watling (2013) support, the familiarity established from
the beginning made them reveal their thoughts more easily in the following stages.
During the narration of The magic pan the children got really interested in the story.
In the beginning they were very silent, making no comments, trying to hear what was
coming next. Their engagement was obvious even in body language and facial
expressions; their eyes were on the story book. They did not try to talk to each other or
change the topic of the discussion. The actual time of the first storytelling session was
7 minutes, and this is an important reason why the children were silent without any
disturbance. The short, uncomplicated stories help the youngest children understand
and even feel part of the story (Soundy, 1993). Considering the age of the young
participants three-and-a-half years old the stories needed to be as simple as possible,
in order to lead successfully to the drawing process and for the whole concept of the
activity to be easily understood. .
The basic question the researcher asked the children was What do you think the magic
pan gave to the girl?. There was a brainstorm of ideas. The overflow of the responses
included a lot of food replies - the young girl needed food since she was very poor. An
interesting reply came from Sonia:

30

Sonia: The pan will give a horse!


Researcher: Why a horse?
Sonia: Then she can go into the woods
Adam: And she can find food
Sonia: It is fast with a horse
Researcher: That is true, it is faster because
Adam: She wont walk
Sonia: The horse will take her
The two children focused both on food, but also on transportation. The final goal was
the food supplies, but the children were focused on how they will get there faster. The
preschool teacher informed the researcher that last week Sonia was referring a lot to
characters of a cartoon that she watched and specifically to a horse that is part of the
specific animation she likes to watch at home. Annas response was also indirect: The
magic pan will give coins. This answer can be associated with the real life, where the
money is the only medium of exchange to buy food. The association with childrens
life is obvious in these cases; their personal interests and daily moments intervene.

4.3.1. The drawing process


The most decisive factor for the researcher to understand and interpret childrens
drawings was the drawing process and the conversations during the process. Their
young age made it difficult to understand the drawings in some cases and, at a first
glance, someone could deem the drawings as irrelevant lines that make no sense.
Although, through the childrens words, the researcher could achieve great association
between the drawings and childrens minds. From the total five pictures of the first day,
the two were completely related with the story and the drawings were representing
realistic answers about what the little magic pan could offer to that poor girl.

31

At first sight, Annas


drawing

can

be

considered-hard-to
understand
interpret.

and
As

Anna

explained

to

the

researcher,

however,

the circle corresponds


to the hypothetic magic
pan. During the story
time,

the

researcher

used as an example a red plastic pan that there was in class, in the kitchen corner. So
Anna, inspired by the pan, drew exactly the same object using even the same colour,
since the representative pan was red as well. As an individual touch of the drawing,
there are fruits inside the pan: red strawberries, because as Anna said This is my
favourite fruit and my mum buys a lot of strawberries for me. The girl also had
strawberries as a snack the same day. Although the child focused on the basic needs the
poor girl had, by drawing her food, Anna still added in the pan something enjoyable for
herself and something that was representing her favourite fruit. As Shaban & Al-Awidi
(2013) claim, in childrens drawing we have a mixture of reality and fantasy.

The

same

concept

continued in Adams
drawing

that

followed

the

also
storys

lines and drew the magic


pan. The magic pan
contained food as well
an

apple,

which

according to Adam was


exactly what the poor
girl needed. Adams personality was more introvert and he was not open to talk and
chat with the researcher, or the other children, during the drawing process. According
32

to the preschool teacher, Adam was not very interested in art and drawing in general
and he spent only five minutes on the drawing table with the rest of the children. After
drawing his picture, he preferred to withdraw and deal with another activity. The
concept of drawing can affect the final artwork and the mood of the child (Burkitt &
Sheppard, 2014). The content of drawing and the interest the children can show for the
topic can influence childrens vision about the drawing process and shorten or exceed
their time on the drawing table (Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011). The fact that Adam chose
to create such a simple drawing, using no colours besides brown and red can ensure
that the drawing process was not very enjoyable for him, with the short time he spent
at the table strengthening this belief. The boy wanted to complete the task and move on
to another activity.

The last three drawings clearly depict


subjective wishes that the children made
for the poor girl. During the routine time,
before the project began, the preschool
teacher was talking with the children
about a birthday party that some of the
children had attended the previous week.
Melinas picture presents clearly her
birthday cake it was actually her birthday party with a strawberry glaze as she
said, with four candles since she was turning four. The young children, according to
Vygotsky (1978), have the tendency to set themselves in the centre of every activity
and approach any situation in an egocentric way. In this occasion, based on Vygotskys
theory, Melina attached to the drawing her personal experience, ignoring that her
responses does not suit the storys ending and the poor girls need. Even though Melina
was paying attention during the story time, her drawing was not based on objects that
the magic pan could offer for the young poor girl of the story and the what she drew
was not a first need item. Her individual thoughts originated from a personal and recent
event in her life. The drawings that include personal information about the children

33

indicate that they get affected by recent events and situations that have occurred in their
lives.
The following pictures present relevant concepts and the childrens individual interests.
Sonias drawing follows
her thinking during the
story time. As she was
explaining in the story time,
Sonia drew exactly what
her first response was; the
horse that will help the girl
reach faster the food. And
still the name of the horse
was Elsa, due to her
favourite

cartoon,

associating her drawing with her individual thoughts and interests.

Jordans drawing shows a fight between a dinosaur and some other creatures. The same
topic, as he claimed too, was inspired by a cartoon program he was watching the day
before and his favourite toys.

34

A common detail present in Sonias and Annas pictures is the wishing light the
yellow part that the children have created, inspired by the strange woman that offered
the pan, and the word wish the researcher used in the main question. The children
associated this word with something magical which, in their minds, hides a wishing
light.

4.3.2. The materials


In general, the drawings reflect the cognitive and developmental drawing level of a
child (Brooks, 2009). A lot of the drawings are not easily understandable as they consist
in some random lines. During the drawing process, only the two four-year old children
were confident with the materials, especially the crayons. The rest of the children had
some difficulty in holding the crayons and the pencils properly, and that made their
drawings hard-to-read.
On the first day, the children were given crayons to draw with, while on the second day
they were given paint. On the third day, however, they were given all the material
possible on the table to choose freely. More specifically, the crayons demanded more
effort in order to be visible on the paper and some children could not handle them.
Adams lines were barely visible, so the researcher needed to show him how to press
the crayons harder in order to make a clear picture. Melina said I cant with the
crayons. The researcher could see that the children aged three-and-a-half were
dropping the crayons or had
difficulties in holding them
properly. That was logical,
considering their tiny hands.
Children either could not
draw clearly on the white
paper or were pressing the
crayons very hard, trying to
handle them and ended up
ruining the picture. In this
case, the shapes and figures they had in mind were not successfully represented the
drawing and the visual meaning was difficult to understand.
35

The

paint

options

were

limited to four colours: blue,


green, red and yellow, but
the childrens interest was
huge

compared

to

the

crayons. The children from


the beginning expressed their
enthusiasm to use paint. On
the first day, they drew using
only their fingers and no
brushes. Their young age and
the size of their hands made it easy to draw with paint and their drawings were more
clear and powerful. On the last day of the research, they had the chance to choose
between the crayons and the paint. All of the drawing materials were set on the table
and no one used the crayons. Instead, they all preferred to do their drawings using only
the four painting materials, plus brushes.
Table 2: The drawing materials
First day

crayons

Second day

paint

fingers

Third day

paint

fingers and brushes

The researcher observed the children and concluded that the difficulty some of them
had with the crayons resulted in choosing to draw with the painting materials, even
though the range of the colours was limited. Children were highly enthusiastic during
the last two days. Especially on the last day, the children could not even sit on the chairs.
They were standing up, looking very impatient and waiting to start drawing, asking
Can we start? Can I have my white paper?. The position of their bodies standing
upon the colours and trying to be the first to catch the preferred colour affirmed their
preference for the paint instead of the crayons of the first day. The preschool teacher
pointed out that they were not using painting on a daily basis. The fact that the children
did not have the chance to draw with this material very often enhanced their desire to

36

participate in the project and produce drawings that were clearer and more
understandable.

4.4. Day 2
The main question that came after the second story was What do you think the boy
saw from his window?. Again, personal thoughts and details were part of the drawing.
In each drawing the children set themselves as the protagonist of their story.

4.4.1. The family concept


Half of the drawings shared
personal moments and more
specifically,

persons

from

their family environment in


direct or non-direct ways,
supporting

Twiggs

(2011)

theory that children choose to


use figures of people who
surround their lives and they
feel

comfortable

with.

In

Sonias drawing the view from


the window shows herself and
her mum together. The girl depicted her mum with realistic details; blonde hair and the
specific colours of that day green pants her mum was wearing that day when she
brought her to school. The child made her mum slim and tall and herself chubby, like
they are in reality. She did not draw herself in detail no hair- but even gave her mum
high heels; I want to be like my mum were her words during the drawing process,
showing the admiration for that person. Also, the fact that she drew her mum first
confirms this interpretation, since the order you draw something shows what is more
important to you (Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). The positive feeling that Sonia has about
her mum is confirmed by the happy smile she gave her drawing and the general mood
the child had during the drawing process, inspired by the drawings general content
37

(Misalidi & Bonoti, 2013). A child starts from the most important items or persons and
then the less significant ones follow. In addition in the specific drawing there is also
updated information, since the girl drew her mum, who is very important to her, but in
her clothes she was wearing that morning. The recent details that imprinted in the
childs mind are visible in some drawings of the day before.

Researcher: Do you want to tell me what is it that you draw?


Tina: These are footprints
Researcher: Whose footprints are these?
Tina: My footprints and my mums. The yellow are mine because I like yellow and
the others are my mums
Researcher: Have you seen footprints from your window?
Tina: yes, because sometimes my shoes get dirty when I play in the garden and I
make dirty spots on the ground
In Tinas drawings the main idea is also generated by the family environment and the
house is being referred to a place where she plays and enjoys fun times. Her favourite
colour is used for the something that happens and is fun for her, represents the happy
moments the child has and memories collected during the time of her life. It shows
38

something that happens repeatedly, not just once, but is still a nice memory she would
like to live again. She also has a play partner, her mum. Tina, according to observation
and the preschool teacher, is a quiet child who prefers to play individually and usually
sits close to the teacher. The bondage she has with her mum, though, is obvious in the
two

drawings.

4.4.2. The home environment


I cant see out of my window. My mum
needs to rise me up, because I am small.
These were Sonias words during the story
time, and later in the drawing process were
captured as the view she has from her own
window; the sky. Since she cannot reach the
window this is the only thing she can see
without

any

help.

Again

personal

perspective is represented in the drawing,


since the picture is not relevant to the given
concept and what the child probably saw. One
more time the Vygotskian perspective about the egocentric nature of the child seems to
be applicant (Vygotsky, 1978).
The same concept continues to Annas
drawing,

which is

in

particular

environmentally realistic: the sun and


the tree. The specific items are drawn
with

realistic

and

correct

representative colours as in real life.


Anna said there is a tree in the back
yard of their house, so it is an image of
her everyday life when she plays
outside. The bright colours represent a

39

happy feeling that the child has about the specific situation and the objects the drawing
presents (Burkitt & Sheppard, 2014)
In addition, besides Sonias drawing, in which some details are more obvious, the rest
of the children who are younger, verify Burkitts & Barretts, (2011) assumptions that
the younger the children are, the less details they include in their drawings, as in this
case, where the objects that are presented make sense basically by the outline and the
colour.
One of the most interesting parts of the second day was that all of the children drew the
supposed window before they engaged in thinking beyond. In fact, Sonia first drew the
window and the rest of the children imitated her action, when the researcher pointed
out and analysed this. They imitated. So, their drawings include copied ideas, too.

4.4.3. The violent concept


Shaban and Al-Awidi (2013) emphasise the tendency that boys have for violent
representations. According to them, the majority of violent drawings are made by
males. In the following drawings we have a battle. The only boys that took part in the
research drew fighting concept drawings and they were not influenced by each other.
Their drawings were not a copy of anything since they were not sitting next to each

other and during the observation the researcher did not catch them looking at others
drawings so that one could be inspired by the other. They did not even have a
conversation. In the first drawing, there is a fighting dinosaur (the red part) and in the
second one there is a monster (the green part) ready to eat a person. In both pictures the
40

enormous size of the monsters is very evident. The monsters did not seem to provoke
negative feelings in the two boys. Instead, they were enjoying the drawing of the
monsters and were very energetic, standing up and using intensively a lot of paint and
space for their representations. The children were feeling that through the strong
monsters they gained power as well. They were pretending the voices the dinosaur and
the monster are supposed to make in real life, pretending that they win the fight. It was
obvious that the children replaced the drawing item and put themselves in their position.
They felt that they had the power at that moment. The drawing process turned into a
playing process. Sutton Smith (2001) elaborates the feeling that can be raised in
children during the play, when they feel that they gain extra power, which does not
happen in their daily life. The children, surrounded by adults are used to obeying rules
and they know that everything they do needs to be approved by their parents, but during
their play time they feel free to act like bosses of themselves and they can gain power
(Sutton Smith, 2001).
Concisely, childrens drawings can be seen as a way for childrens independence and
power (Sutton Smith, 2001); they need probably to feel superior and powerful and to
gain the independence they cannot have, with all the rules and the barriers they imposed
on them. But in general, violent representations cannot be considered worrying, as a lot
of people believe, unless they are happening continuously (Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011).

4.5. Day 3
One notable detail that was analysed on the third day is the childrens free choice on
the materials they had for use. On the projects table, crayons, colourful pencils and
paint, were equally available but not one single child chose to use crayons and pencils.
The drawings were all made by paint. As it has already been mentioned, the excitement
of the children to use these materials was due to the rare use they made of them in
general, so they picked only the paint to draw their works of art.

4.5.1. The repetition


The term repetition is used in this project as a substitute for drawings which neither
show something new nor offer a continuity for the story with the creation of a drawing
41

that came in the childs mind, as it was asked by the researcher. In childrens drawings,
apart from their feelings, thoughts and ideas, is also depicted unimportant information
that can be result of repetition (Farokhi & Hashemi, 2011). On the last day, half of the
drawings did not present anything new, did not continue the story according to the
project, but the children analysed parts that were already narrated during the story time.
Sonias drawing shows the wooden
box that the man found but it does
not present any new information
based on the researchers main
question What could the box hide
inside?
Concerning the drawing details,
Sonia was drawing very carefully
and slowly to achieve the accuracy
of every single detail and the lines, which are extremely straight. During the drawing
process, the girl was using the paint brush very cautiously and slowly trying to achieve
the best and most precise result. The age of the child contributed to this achievement,
since Sonia was the eldest of the children who took part on the project, aged four years
old. Compared to the rest of the drawings produced, hers were more accurate and
precise in style, relevant to her age. The younger children had difficulty in even holding
the paint brush and after a while they preferred to use their fingers again like the day
before, instead of dealing with the difficulty during the drawing process. Although they
were familiar with the materials they used, they faced difficulties in the accomplishment
of the task using the brushes.
The children felt inconvenience and asked the researcher if they could draw as they had
done the previous day using their fingers. On the last day, they felt close to the
researcher and expressed their feelings about the task, and proposed another solution
to use their fingers. When children feel comfortable with the audience that surrounds
them, they can be more effusive, expressive and share their thoughts easier (Bukirtt
&Watling, 2013). The last day, before the researchers departure, the children wanted
to know whether there was going to be another visit and wanted to draw together again.
The project had become a part of the daily routine since for three consecutive days the

42

children and the researcher were sharing about 45 minutes together, with activities on
the same concept. This strengthens Bukirtts and Watlings (2013) perspective about
the group of people that surrounds childrens life and become part of their daily
programme which can make children feel safe and free to express their needs and
feelings, not only with verbal means but in their drawings as well.
The researcher during the story time commented about the weather and referred to a
rainbow. This made Anna drew a rainbow. The child, like in previous cases, started
drawing the rainbow with a brush, colouring the first red stripe of the rainbow with
brush and then moved into the next ones using only her fingers. The difficulty the child
dealt with can be seen in the size of
the red stripe. Since Anna could not
handle the brush, she could not
achieve the straight line as she
wanted and was trying with the
brush using more space for the red
one in order to achieve the desired
outcome.

According

to

the

observation, Anna spent about four


minutes on just the red stripe, since
it was hard for her to use the brush in order to achieve a straight line. The rest of the
stripes were drawn in a total time of six minutes and made the process for her very fun
and enjoyable. It was impressive how accurate her drawing was, since according to the
preschool teacher she did not manage in general to draw very clear images, but with
these materials and her fingers she accomplished an amazing and accurate result.
The concept of the drawing is based on the imitation of the researchers words, copying
the concept of the rainbow the researcher referred to. She likes bright colours and this
is why she chose to use all the paint colours available on the table.

4.5.2. When logic dominates


What could be more reasonable than a box that is in the sea that is full of water? This
is being represented is Tinas drawing, with the exact colour of the sea and an
explanation that followed her thinking at the end of the drawing process:
43

Researcher: Tina, tell me what did you draw?


Tina: Its water!
Researcher: Why do you think the box has water inside?
Tina: Because it is in the sea. And all the water can go into the box. I had my bucket
one day in the beach and it was filled with water. And the box has lockers with holes.
The water can enter from the hole.
It was very interesting how this girl
associated her personal experience
with the story and thought reasonably.
She pointed out every factor and detail
that could affect the box of the story,
based on her own story and by
connecting what happened in her case
with the specific story. Her drawing is
based on a reasonable association
which started in her mind, due to a
past experience, and continued to be captured and presented as a final result in her
drawing.
Despite all those theories that support the exclusively rich imagination of the children
that is always alive and can be seen in every part of their daily life, there are still cases
as it happened here where you expect to see the most creative and full of imagination
recreation and finally receive the most logical result that you would not expect from a
child aged three-and-a-half. This case leads us, once again, to the theory that working
with children can always be surprising.
On the other hand, there is also the realistic response, which is not necessarily
associated with the past experiences of the child but follows a logical sequence that is
normally expected by the adults. In the specific case, Adam was focused on the actual

44

content the box could have. A lost treasure box found in the sea is a common feature of
a story. This picture is not representative
of a clear content of a treasure. According
to Adam, this yellow mass of colour,
represents the gold jewellery someone can
find in a treasure box. Adams drawing
consists of a combination of imagination
and logic. The logic is based on the famous
stories that children listen to and expect to
come across with a wooden box with treasure goodies one day. In Adams case the
motivation of the specific choice was based on his personal interest as well, since the
boy during the drawing process mentioned his favourite movie that is about pirates and
a treasure box. Accordingly, the logical result in the drawing had an imaginary aspect,
too, since the whole concept of the drawing cannot really happen in real life, even if it
is quite widely spoken and familiar as a story and a possibility. The combination of
imagination, reality and personal interest created the final result that is represented in
the drawing.
The boy used the yellow colour, which is representative and the actual colour of gold.
He retained the real colours, as he did in his first drawing with the pan and the apple.
The free choice of colour enhance the image of the treasure, even though it is not clear
at all what is in the picture. The choice of bright colour, along with the boys
expressions while drawing, proved the positive feelings he had for his art and reminds
us of Zentners (2001) research results, which set the yellow as the main colour that
children aged three used to represent happiness and joy. At the same time, it is a fact
that big figures represent happy feeling about what is been drawn, since the size implies
that the children give emphasis to something that makes them happy and tend to make
it big (Burkitt & Sheppard, 2014). The drawing is a yellow mass of colour and the
researcher needed to have a conversation with the young boy in order to understand
what is exactly represented in the picture. The darker shadows lines according to
Adam represent the necklesses and the jewellery while the rest of the yellow surface is
the coins. Adams drawing could be deemed ambivalent; he drew necklaces that
according to most theories are a typical concept in females drawings. The gender
balance is seen in the pirate idea that overwhelms the sequence of the drawing.
45

4.6. The story time


The story time was mostly used as an incentive for the researcher to help children unfold
their minds, and a method to understand where childrens thoughts originate from.
Story time was not meant to be the main focus of the project, for this reason the
researcher was spending daily around seven minutes for the story time, including the
story telling and the childrens responses.
During the story time the children were coming up with quite a few ideas when the
researcher was referring to the main question which was to be answered. On the first
day, to the question What do you think the poor girl wished to have and asked from
the magic pan? the childrens main answers were the following: food, coins, a horse
and water. Their answers were mostly realistic and were based on the basic needs the
poor girl might have had at that moment: food and water. Their way of thinking was
either direct food - or indirect coins or even a horse. Some of the children were
influenced in their representations by the visual stimulus the researcher used in the first
day the pan and ended up drawing it in at their final artworks. Soundys (2012)
aspect is visible in this case according to which the children can be affected during the
story time by any visual stimulus that may be used by the preschool teacher or the adults
in general.
In their pictures not all of the children drew what they gave as an answer during the
story time. Some of them drew their words but most of them specified theirs choices in
their drawings, by creating specific items. They were separating the story time from the
drawing time as a different concept and the researcher needed to remind them of the
purpose and the concept of the drawing. For the second story, childrens answers were
more concrete since on the second day they were familiar with the story telling concept.
Their participation here was very active. Three of the children took their position before
the researcher was ready and were waiting for the storytelling to start. Their interest
was obvious in their positions, and their questions: Where is your storybook? When
are you going to tell us the story? .
To the second day question What do you think the child saw from the window? their
responses varied. Half of the children referred to their own window and what they could
see from it. Their answer denoted that they related themselves with the protagonist of
the story and acted as if they were the heroes of the story even though the question was
46

clear and did not address the personal experience. They said they could see a tree like
the one there is in their garden, they could see the sky because they cannot reach the
window and they can see their yard and the street. The children that participated in the
discussion gave clearly personalized responses, without a logical continuity that could
be related to the unusual animals of the actual story.
Finally, the last day question was What do you think the magic box in the sea can
hide?. The researcher did not leave a lot of time to discuss, but preferred to let them
draw without much discussion, to later compare the results with discussion and after a
story time that allows free choice. Apparently, two of the children were a little confused
in the beginning of the drawing process and needed guidance and a reminder to make
clear what they needed to draw in the drawing process. One child said I do not know
what I should draw, meaning that s/he did not understand the question and the concept
of the activity although the activities sequence was the same as the day before.

4.7. The contribution of the conversations


The conversations the researcher had with the children, as well as the discussions
among the children themselves, during the drawing process were of great importance
for the analysis and understanding of every single drawing. The young age of the
participants complicated the analysis of a drawing, especially without any feedback
from the child. On the first day that the children were using crayons and colourful
pencils, their drawings were in some cases difficult to understand, due to the fact the
children could not really hold and use the materials in order to achieve a clear result.
Annas, Adams and Jordans drawings could not be interpreted by the researcher
without a conversation with them. So, the researcher asked what their picture was about.
Adam explained that he created the magic pan with the crayons and inside the pan there
was an apple. But without his guidance his drawing was easy to be misunderstood. The
same concept was with Annas drawing as well. The three-and-a-half year old children
had to explain what they drew in order to be understood by the adults. The difficulty
was in that the items were not representative of the shape the drawn objects had in
reality. The children used the right colours to represent the apples but they could not do
the shapes, thus their representations were confusing. For them, though, the drawn
items were clear. When the researcher asked Anna what was inside the pan she said
47

Its obviously an apple. It is red. The word obviously signifies that the child cannot
understand that the shape of the item is not the right one, but for her it was enough that
the colour was representative of the real item. Since the red colour could represent the
apple, she did not need to make a shape that looked like an apple. This shows that, when
the children have an idea on mind, even if it is not properly depicted according to reality,
it does not matter as far as it is right for them.
During the drawing process there was no egocentric speech by the children. The
children were either talking with each other or with the researcher. But, contrary to
Vygotsky (1978), who claims that at the age of four children use their egocentric speech
during some activities, nothing like this happened in our project. In case something like
that occurred, the researcher would probably clarify more without asking the children.
The researcher had to start a discussion or ask questions to the children that could offer
insight. The only example of egocentric speech would be the fact that the children,
intrigued by a question, started analysing a topic on their own without further guidance.
When the researcher asked Adam what he was drawing, Adams answer was: The pan
from the story. It is like this one (showing the pan that was used during the story time
as an example from the researcher). This is for the food the poor girl needed and the
apple and other fruits are for her to eat. All these are answers for more than one
question but the young boy started explaining and kept on talking until he felt he made
clear everything about his drawing. He was not really interested if the researcher was
paying attention to him, since his body was mainly looking towards the drawing and
his full attention was on the paper and the colours he was using. This attitude is
demonstrative of his passion to pronounce the words out loud instead of struggling to
explain what the researcher needed to know. In general, the drawing process could be
considered as a silent activity during which the children were completely absorbed in
their individual task instead of interacting with each other verbally. Contrary to the
storytelling time, where the participants were very talkative and enthusiastic to
announce their thoughts and their ideas, the drawing process was a very quiet time and
made the children completely engaged in their blank papers and the available colours
in order to fulfill the task that was given to them. The only conversations that occurred
were intrigued by the researcher in order to collect the information s/he needed.

48

4.8. The teachers interaction


The researchers intervention can be seen as guidance and motivation to let children
unfold their thoughts and transfer them to the paper during the child conferences.
During the story time, the researcher was trying to make interpretative questions so that
the children could understand and describe why they gave the specific answers and
shared these ideas. Why do you think that the little girl finds a horse in the woods?
How can the coins be useful to the little girl?. The questions were intended to
associate childrens ideas with a relevant solution for the stories, in order to help the
researcher understand where their thoughts originate from. In Annas case, the relation
came to the point when she referred to the horse as Elsa, which - according to her
teacher - is the name of her favourite animation character. The girl shared the idea that
the horse could give help to the little girl and transfer her somewhere she could find
food. This solution is associated with a personal interest and her favourite animation
movie. So, it shows that the child based her thinking on something familiar and
enjoyable for her.
The researchers interaction was very useful as well during the drawing process, mainly
through the guidance offered to the children. Although there was time before and after
the story time directions for the children to think about what they needed to draw and
what was the concept of the drawing, especially on the first day they were a little
confused and the researcher needed to explain - after the story time, in the drawing table
- the content of their drawings. Cooperation with the children was easy, since all of
them were sharing one table and the researcher could explain everything at once for all
of them. Should the researcher had not interfered, the children would have drawn
something that would not be representative of the discussed topic and could jeopardize
the analysis of the results. So, interaction between the children and the teacher is
important, to give guidance and help the children find their own solutions.

49

Table 3: The content of the childrens drawings total number of drawings: 16

Content of the

Number of

drawing

drawings

The home

Percentage %

12.5 %

environmnet

Family members

18.75 %

Outdoor
environment
Items and
spots there
are at
childrens
homes
Conditional
drawing

Realistic
drawing

Childrens

31.25 %

favourite interests

Cartoons

Games

Objects

Heroes from
preferable
animation

Drawings related
to the stories

37.5 %

Repetition
of story
parts

50

CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION


The specific topic has been widely researched; it can be approached in various ways
while it can be affected by multiple factors. The researcher collected and analysed
specific visual data from a small group of children, based on the literature part and the
topics that were analysed in the previous chapters.
The specific chapter aims to reflect on the previous chapter and the analysed data
concerning childrens drawings and their individual thoughts. In addition, the results
will help answer the research questions; they will imply some determining factors that
influence children during the drawing process and, enhance or obstruct their
representational thinking.

5.1. The drawings


The findings indicated that almost all the drawings that were created during the threeday project can reveal personal information about the children. The most impressive is
that, despite the fact that the researcher intended to promote a context of drawing that
could be independent from the childrens lives through the stories and the questions
- the results showed that the children added and used experiences that are associated
with their personal lives outside of the preschool institution. Although the children had
the proper trigger to release on the paper a drawing connected to the related story, the
majority of them combined this with their individual experiences and some of them did
not associate the drawing with the story at all. At this early age of three-and-a-half,
children do not seem able to separate themselves from a hero in a story. They tended to
put themselves in the centre of the story and cannot realise the situations from a
perspective other than theirs, as Shantz and Watson (1971) had supported, based on
Piagets theory.
The main topics of their drawings were basically generated by their family
environment, their personal interests and their lives outside of the early childhood
setting, in general. Assessment of the findings shows that their preferable person to
draw, and refer to, from their family environment was the mother, and the
representation of the persons was either realistic, with great details - as in Sonias
drawing - or conditional - as in Tinas drawings. This result confirmed Leos at al.s
51

(2007) and Furys et al.s (1997) aspects that children enjoy to draw their beloved
persons who surround them in their lives. The bright colours that were used and the
positive facial characteristics that were given promote the Zentners (2001) perspective,
according to which the preference of colours and the expressions that the drawn humans
have on childrens artworks can reveal how important and beloved these persons for
childrens lives are. Moreover, the boys drawings presented a more violent concept,
inspired basically by battle scenes and fighting games because of their interest for these
games. On confirmation of Taylors aspect (2003), there was a big number of childrens
drawings that were mainly influenced by the means of communication, and mostly
television. An important number of the participants drew heroes, situations or got
inspired in general from favourite cartoons. These influences were noticeable not only
on their drawings, but also on their speech during the story time, since a lot of children,
were referring to cartoon heroes and commenting on relation to their special
protagonists.

5.2. The story time


During the narration of the stories the children did share their first ideas and revealed
some of their thoughts that later on ended up as a drawing. The fact that the researcher
was open for discussion with children allowed the young participants to feel confident
from the beginning of the project and set the bases for an intimate environment, factors
that are absolutely necessary for a proper and successful cooperation with children
(Soundy 2012). The stories with no ending intrigued their minds and all of the children
were completely engaged in the activity, feeling exciting to move to the main process
of drawing. Lubetsky (1989) highlighted the importance of the enjoyable and
educational character the stories can have and during the project the children seemed to
be fully absorbed by the narration and ready to respond to the researchers question,
confirming the fact that they were paying attention and were not ignoring the researcher
and the stories. In some cases, the children drew exactly what their responses were in
the stories and in some other cases, the participants added new data and information. In
the story time activities, the participants were active and completely engaged, able to
unfold their thoughts to the researcher and this feeling let them feel confident and

52

prepared them for the drawing activity, confirming Lomaxs (2006) perspective on how
amenable children can be in a friendly and active environment.

5.3. The drawing process


The interpretation of the drawings was mostly based on the information that was
gathered during the three-day project. During the drawing process, the researcher could
gather all the useful information in order to fully understand the drawings hidden
messages and their original stimulus. The most decisive factor during the process, were
the informal conversations the researcher had with the children. The conversations
contributed to make clearer the meaning of most of the childrens drawings, since at
this age the depictions are not easily understood and can lead to wrong interpretations.
The childrens explanation was basic and crucial for the researcher to read the drawings
from their perspective, since their words were guiding and making clear the meaning
that was hidden behind, enhancing the socio-constructive theories about the use of
speech, which remains the most direct and efficient way to understand and get fully
engaged with childrens minds and ideas (Durden & Dangel, 2008). As Massey (2004)
supported, the preschool teacher in the school environment is the one who engages the
children into conversations, either with each other or with the teachers. S/he can guide
the conversation during the free play time, the activities and during the whole school
time in order to gather information from the children, especially the shy ones.
The difficulty a lot of the children had with some materials, not because they were not
familiar with the materials, but due to their young age, complicated the representational
meaning of their drawings. Most of the discussions were triggered by the researcher
and the children did not use the egocentric speech that could probably explain more
questions without the researchers intervention during the research process. In addition,
the children - even though they were sharing the same table - they did not interact a lot
during the drawing process. They were working individually and there were no
spontaneous conversations among them. The conversations were basically between the
researcher and the children, with the researchers instigation.
It is confirmed by the drawing process that children can replace their words and their
speech with drawing. As Farokhi & Hashemi (2011) support, the children use the tool
of drawing to express what they do not want or cannot express using their speech. As
53

the conversations with the children were mostly intrigued by the researcher and their in
between chats were limited - almost non-existent - the children did not have the need
to explain their drawings and their represented thoughts and their speech during the
drawing process was not their first priority.

5.4. The preschool teachers contribution


The influential power of the teacher was exercised mostly through the guidance offered
during the story time and the process of drawing. The children needed detailed
explanation and daily reminding about the purpose of the daily activity and the concept
their drawings should have. The researcher needed to repeat the basic question at the
end of the story and before the drawing process began, to ensure that the children
understood the proper content of the activity. The last day that clarifications on the
activity were given only once, the children seemed confused at the table of drawing.
Although they had done this before, they needed further input to be fully acquainted
with the activity. Repetition by the teacher is very important and needs to be continuous
so that the children will have a reminder all the time until the process ends. This will
help at the proper completion of the drawing process and for the researcher to gather
the best data in order to interpret the drawings and define their real individual meaning.
In addition, the preschool teachers interaction with the children encourages them to
externalise their thoughts, explain their representations and describe their final artworks
through verbal communication. By the end of these talks, the children could realise if
they had represented something realistically with the teachers guidance. In their
opinion, the idea of what they would draw was clear from the very beginning and the
results was readable, even if that was not the case.

5.5. Challenges and influential factors for the final artwork


The findings of the specific research indicated that there are various factors that can
affect the final result of a childs drawings. The materials that the children used played
an important role and affected the final drawing, especially for the youngest ones, those

54

aged three-and-a-half. Burkitt & Barrett (2011) supported that childrens fine skills can
be measured by the way they can handle the materials they use during projects or any
recreational activities. As described in the data analysis, a comparison with the
materials indicated that the paint is more handy and practical for the children to draw,
compared to the colour pencils and the crayons. The majority of the children, even
though they were familiar with the crayons and the pencils, could not handle them like
the paint. During the drawing process with paint, the children preferred to use mostly
their fingers, since they felt they could not express themselves the same way using the
brushes. They would rather colour and create the context of their drawings using only
their fingers and mixing the colours in a more vivid way. For that reason, it is noticeable
on the drawings that the ones with paint are more abstract with less details, besides the
drawings that were given by the children the first day with the pencils and the crayons
indicated the drawing situations, persons and item more thoroughly and offer more
descriptive results.
Another characteristic that is indicated in childrens drawings is the childrens
unawareness

of

representing

an

item/situation/person

in

the

way

this

item/situation/person is in reality. In many cases, the drawing situations were not


representative and were not given in realistic characteristics but children did not feel
the need to explain more, believing that their actual representations can be fully
understood by everyone, even when their meaning is different from what is represented.
On their drawings, as Woolley (1997) stated, a mixing of imagination, reality and
fantasy was visible. In Sonias drawing, for instance, a real horse was represented
inspired by her favourite cartoon in realistic details but the wishing light there was in
front of the horse was a sign of an imaginary and fantastic situation that the girl created
in her mind, believing that the old lady of the narrated story was a fairy princess and
could make real any wish or dream the poor girl had.
The childrens feelings about the topic and the drawing in general could affect their
final artwork, since when the child is not really engaged and interested in the drawing
process, it did not care about the final result and only aimed to finish the activity and
move on something of its interest. On the other side, there were children that found the
drawing process a way of externalising their power and feeling independent, supporting
Suttons Smith perspective (2001). The children found satisfaction in the role play they
did in drawing and in the stories that were represented in their pictures. They could
55

express themselves bodily and verbally through the process of drawing, confirming the
positive influence that the drawing has on their expressive behaviour.

56

CHAPTER SIX: CONCLUSION

6.1.Conclusion
The specific project was a small exploratory research, based on a qualitative approach.
The aim of the research was to discover whether and in what degree childrens drawings
can be related to their individual thoughts and ideas. Using storytelling as the basic
method, the research focused on the way storytelling can influence children and make
them express their inner world and transfer their thoughts on the paper. This qualitative
approach, based on a semiotic data analysis of the drawings as well as the interaction
during the drawing process, indicated what influences the childrens drawing, their
favourite topics and what are the basic stimuli for the representations of childrens
thoughts in general. More specifically, the research aimed to answer the following
questions:
1. How does the process of creating an artwork (drawing) help children present
their individual thoughts, ideas?
2. What factors can influence the final result of an artwork inside the preschool
setting?
3. How the childrens ideas are mirrored through their final art products?
4. In what degree do teachers influence the childrens way of expressing their ideas
during the art process?
5. What challenges do children deal with in order to create the art product they
want?
6. In what grade can the method of a story narration contribute to reveal childrens
thinking?
The research project was held in an Independent Maltese preschool institution and the
participants in both in the storytelling and the drawing process were six children, aged
three-and-a-half and four. There were three different narrations, three Greek stories
with an open ending, so that the children could use their own experiences and
imagination to create the ending and a drawing based on this. The finals data were 16
drawings by six children during the three-day research project. The interpretation of the
drawings and the following conversations between the researcher and the children
contributed to the final results.
57

According to the results of the research, all of the drawings were presenting personal
and individual information, related to childrens lives, such as their favourite animation
movies, beloved persons - especially the mother, familiar environments basically their
home. There is a high association of the drawings with realistic events and
characteristics. The illustration of items, persons and situations was easier to do with
paint rather than with crayons and colour pencils. The three-day projects has indicated
that at this young age the majority of the subjects were three and a half years old
children could handle the paint more easily with their fingers in a free style, instead of
using crayons and pencils. The specific material allowed them to express themselves
better and with more confidence.
The preschool teachers interaction with the children during the drawing process was
enlightening for the teacher, and enabled the interpretation of the drawing. The children
did not seem to need any help to put their thought on the paper. But for further
explanations on their inspiration, the teacher needed to interact with them and make
conversations in order to uncover the meaning of their drawings. The children seemed
willing to complete the task successfully and transfer their individual thoughts on the
paper, since they could feel comfortable round the researcher and in the environment
they were doing the project.
The story telling was employed as a trick to guide children on their drawings, to make
them focus on specific items and concepts presented in these stories. However, the
included redundant personal apart from the target content. That was indicative of the
degree to which personal and individual details of childrens lives are important for
them so that they value and depict them in all every drawing.
The individual thoughts of the children were evident in their final pictures and were a
basic part of them. This proves that the childrens drawings can be mirrors of their
personal and individual thoughts and every child can have its own way to present this
characteristics that are hidden behind the colours and the shapes. It may be difficult for
adults to interpret childrens drawings, because there is usually a hidden meaning
behind; and the younger the child is, the more difficult it becomes for an educator,
teacher or parent to understand the meaning without the childs explanation and
guidance. But this should not be an obstacle but a motive to try and analyse a drawing
in depth, since it can reveal things that are really interesting for the childrens mind,

58

personality and thoughts. But it is very important to give space to children to think,
reflect on its thinking, create free their artworks and express their artistic aspects.

6.2. Implications and recommendations


Overall, the present research was conducted with a view to indicate the strong
association between a childs drawing and its inner, individual and private world; how
children can express their own thoughts without words, only through drawing. Even if
a stimulus guides toward a specific direction, children still include personal
information, preferences and details of their own lives. Soundys and Druckers (2010)
perspective is enhanced and proves that the childrens creative artworks can be seen as
a way for children to communicate visually without using words, and express their
feelings and their thoughts .
It should be noted that, since the findings refer to a specific context, social class and are
not generalised, the researchs results cannot be considered the same in a different
environment, context and under different circumstances. The interpretation of
childrens drawings has been a very popular research topic all around the world, and is
subject to the culture, the wider environment, the cognitive development of the children
and many others factors. In that Maltese preschool setting, the childrens drawings were
inspired by their lives outside school, and their interpretation by tracing the starting
point of this inspiration could reveal what words cannot.

59

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APPENDICES
APPENDIX A: GATEKEEPER LETTER
University of Malta
February, 2015

Request for participation in a research project


Childrens drawings: mirrors of childrens individual thoughts - a case study in a
Maltese preschool setting

My name is Ioanna Matsaridou and I would like to request permission to conduct a


research project in your institution. This research is part of my Master thesis, as final
part of my studies in the International Master in Early Childhood Education and Care,
part of the University of Malta. The aim of this research is to examine how through
the process of drawing and the final art works the children can depict their own
personal thoughts, their experiences and their ideas. With your contribution, we can
create a better understanding of childrens drawings in relation to their personal ideas.
Children aged 3 or 4 will be the focus group of the research. This topic will be
explored through 3 activities, organized and conducted by me. Each of the activities
will include story telling in the beginning and the children will be asked to draw an
ending for the specific stories the researcher will narrate. This activity will be held 3
times in 3 different days in the whole class. There will also be an extra visit to the
institution before the project starts, as an introduction day to come in contact with the
children and the classrooms staff. The possible observing number of the children is 6
or 7. The selection of the children will be random. Their drawings in the end of every
activity will be used for the data analysis. Each activity should take approximately 40
minutes and I will keep observing notes through the childrens drawing process
If permission is granted, the specific research will be carried out using the guidelines
of the Faculty Research Ethics Committee. All information will be anonymous and all
the participants will be fully protected. There will not be any video or audio
recordings.
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I look forward for your answer. Should you have any further concerns or questions
please contact me on (00356) 99114445 or ioanna.matsaridou.14@um.edu.mt

Yours sincerely

Ioanna Matsaridou, IMEC student

Signed by:

Dr. Raphael Vella, dissertation supervisor

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APPENDIX B: INVITATION LETTER AND CONSENT FORM FOR THE


STAFF
University of Malta,
February, 2015

Dear Madam/Sir,
My name is Ioanna Matsaridou and I would like to request your permission to conduct
a research project in your class. This research is part of my Master thesis, as final part
of my studies in the International Master in Early Childhood Education and Care, part
of the University of Malta. The aim of this research is to examine how through the
process of drawing and the final art works the children can depict their own personal
thoughts, their experiences and their ideas.
Children aged 3 or 4 will be the focus group of the research. There will be 3 activities,
organized and conducted by me. Each of the activities will include story telling in the
beginning and the children will be asked to draw an ending for the specific stories the
researcher will narrate. This activity will be held 3 times in 3 different days in the
whole class. I would like to ask for your contribution during the drawing time. The
possible observing number of the children is 6 or 7. I will be responsible for this
group of children, being with them and interacting in case they ask or discuss
anything. I will ask for your presence with the rest of the children during the drawing
time. The selection of the children will be random. The children that I am going to
observe will be the same children for all the 3 activities. Their drawings in the end of
every activity will be used for the data analysis. Each activity should take
approximately 40 minutes.
Participation in this study is voluntary. You may withdraw your permission any time,
without any detriment. There will not be any video or audio recordings. The names of
the participants will not be used. Pseudonyms will be used instead.

69

Researchers students name: Ioanna Matsaridou


Contact information: (00356) 99114445 or ioanna.matsaridou.14@um.edu.mt
Project Title: Childrens drawings: mirrors of childrens individual thoughts - a case
study in a Maltese preschool setting.

I give permission to Ioanna Matsaridou to conduct the research project in my class.


YES

NO

I agree to remain in the classroom with the researcher during the research project.
YES

NO

I understand that participation is voluntary and I have the right to withdraw my


permission for the conduction of this research project at any time.

(Name/signature/date)

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APPENDIX C: INVITATION LETTER AND CONSENT FORMS FOR THE


PARENTS
University of Malta,
February, 2015

Dear parent/guardian,
My name is Ioanna Matsaridou and I would like to ask you if you allow your child to
take part in my research study. This research is part of my Master thesis, as final part
of my studies in the International Master in Early Childhood Education and Care, part
of the University of Malta. The aim of this research is to examine how through the
process of drawing and the final art works the children can depict their own personal
thoughts, their experiences and their ideas. With your contribution, we can create a
better understanding of childrens drawings in relation to their personal ideas.
There will be 3 activities inside the classroom, organized and conducted by me. Each
of the activities will include story telling in the beginning and the children will be
asked to draw an ending for the specific stories I am planning to narrate. This activity
will be carried out 3 times in 3 different days for the whole class. Your childs
drawings in the end of every activity will be used for the data analysis. Each activity
should take approximately 40 minutes.
Participation in this study is voluntary. In addition to your permission, it is very
important that your child agrees to take part in this research project as well. Consent
forms are given to you and your child in order to be filled and signed. Your child is
free to withdraw from the research any time, if he/she feels unhappy. There will not
be any video or audio recordings. Your childs name will not be used. Pseudonyms
will be used instead. All the data will be treated confidentially and only the student
and the supervisor can access them.

71

Should you have any questions concerning the research, please contact me through
my mobile phone (00356) 99114445 or via e-mail: ioanna.matsaridou.14@um.edu.mt

Yours sincerely,

Ioanna Matsaridou, IMEC student

Signed by:

Dr. Raphael Vella, dissertation supervisor

72

Researchers students name: Ioanna Matsaridou


Contact information: (00356) 99114445 or ioanna.matsaridou.14@um.edu.mt
Project Title: Childrens drawings: mirrors of childrens individual thoughts - a case
study in a Maltese preschool setting.

(childs name) to participate in

I give permission to
the research project.

I have been given all the information concerning the research project.
YES

NO

I give permission to Ioanna Matsaridou to conduct the research project in my childs


class, with the presence of my child.
YES

NO

I agree to let Ioanna Matsaridou keep observation notes during my childs drawing
time.
YES

NO

I am happy for my childs drawings to be used in any publications. I believe that the
anonymity of the child will be retained and no photos or videos of my child will be
used.
YES

NO

I understand that participation is voluntary and my child can withdraw at any time if
he/she feels unhappy. I believe that the researcher will retain the anonymity of the
participants.

(Name of parent/signature/date)
73

APPENDIX D: CONSENT FORMS FOR THE CHILDREN

My name is

I am Ioanna Matsaridou. I want to tell you some stories and I would like to ask
you to draw a picture at the end of the stories.

Circle

your answer!

1. I want to draw a picture, after I listen to the stories.

2. I will let Ioanna Matsaridou to use my drawings for her study.

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APPENDIX E: THE STORIES USED DURING THE PROJECT

The magic pan


Once upon a time, there was a poor and good girl, who was living with her mother.
They were so poor and they had nothing. They were living in a very small cabin close
to the woods. One day, the little girl went into the woods, and met an old lady there,
who knew how sad the little girl was. Then the old lady approached the girl and gave
her a small pan. The lady said to the girl: This is a little, magic pan which have secret
power and can give whatever you ask for What do you think the poor girl
wished to have and asked from the magic pan?

The magic window


Once upon a time, there was a little boy who got sick. He had to stay all day in bed, if
he would like to be healthy again. The others kids were not allowed to go close to him
and the boy was feeling bad because he was all day at home. He couldnt do anything
but watching out of his window. As the days were going by, he was becoming sadder.
But one day he saw a weird shadow from the window. It was a penguin, who was
eating a sausage sandwich! The penguin entered the room and said Good morning!
and then he was gone. But the boy was so surprised of course! He was trying to
understand what he had seen when from the window suddenly appeared.. What
do you think the little boy watched from the window?

The wooden box


Once upon a time, there was a fisherman, and all night he was travelling on his boat
trying to reach his home land. After a few days travelling inside the sea, with good
and bad weather he saw something in the water. In the beginning he though to keep
sailing without paying any attention. But then he went closer to the box and decided
to take it on his boat. He struggled to take it up because it was very big and heavy.
After managing to lift it up he decided to open it and discover what is hiding
inside.. What do you think the man found in the wooden box?

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