This document includes two lesson plans for teaching students how to inquire, observe, describe, and make a realistic drawing of objects.
Why teach art and, more specifically, realistic drawing? Before students can learn to read and write letters and numbers, they need to be able to observe, recognize, and describe basic art forms like straight lines, slanted lines, vertical/horizontal lines, curved lines, circles, dots, and so on. These "art forms" are the basic building blocks that are found in the objects around us, as well as the alphabet and numbers.
This document includes a student example created by a 2.5 year old. Later in the day after the first lesson, this student, who could already name and recognize letters, began writing six letters with incredible accuracy (during independent center work completely unprompted).
The first lesson has the class use the same object and the second lesson builds on the first by having the students use objects of their choosing. The second lesson can be repeated over and over throughout a school year, as a whole class, in small groups, or with individual students as needed.
These lessons were designed to be used by the classroom teacher, not just an art specialist. So, no, you don't have to be a wonderful artist to teach these lessons (I'm not!), but you must be willing to model using think-aloud, demonstrate being a risk-taker, and guide the students to observe and communicate.
These lesson plans are appropriate for early childhood (EC) through early elementary (K-3) and/or ESL/EFL/Special Needs students who would benefit from a lesson that targets observing and describing basic art forms like straight lines, curved lines, circles, dots, and so on (essential to being able to see these same elements in letters and numbers).