How to Use My Illustration Unit during Kindergarten Writer’s Workshop

 Kindergarten is a wild time of development for children. Often, students come knowing one or two (maybe zero) letters in their name, drawing people like ladders or potatoes, and coloring every single thing with one color. I once had a student refuse to write or draw with anything but a blue crayon. But, by the time May hits students are writing sentences and drawing full illustrations. This is a huge leap to make and any kindergarten teacher can tell you, it is not an easy one. 

Surprisingly, helping students to draw proper illustrations can be one of the trickiest parts of teaching writing. Students may spend the entire writer’s workshop staring at a blank paper simply because they don’t know how to draw a dog. Oofta, that is a rough, frustrating moment for any teacher and I am sure that as you are reading this a few moments (or students) pop into your head. 


Those moments are precisely why I created the Illustration Unit. This four-week unit focuses solely on drawing illustrations. Making it the perfect unit to kick off the school year. The product helps develop students into confident illustrators with the skills to draw people with different clothing, hairstyles, and facial expressions. It also teaches students how to use shapes to draw objects they see around them such as cars, buildings, houses, animals, and more. By implementing this during your writer’s workshop right at the beginning of the school year, you are setting yourself and your students up for smoother sailing and less frustration when you ask them to begin labeling pictures and adding words or sentences. 

So what does this unit look like in the classroom? 

This is a four-week unit that includes 21 scripted plans designed for simple, print-and-go lessons! As I have mentioned previously, this unit is designed specifically for the very beginning of the school year and is developmentally appropriate for those “just barely five years old” kiddos. It is created with intention so that you can jump into writing time on the very first day if you want to! The first lesson gives students the chance to explore and build with shapes. From there, you will lead your students and help them to discover that you can use shapes to build and draw people. Students will have the opportunity to draw a self-portrait and learn how to draw various details like hairstyles, clothing, and facial expressions! 

To help students veer away from the “only one color” habit, you will teach a lesson on how illustrators can (and should) use accurate and creative colors when adding details to their drawings. From there you will teach about using shapes to create objects like cars, boats, and houses. Students will be introduced to the word setting and taught to draw a setting. And finally, students will learn to draw both people and a setting in one illustration. 

That is a whole bunch to learn. The lessons build on one another and walk through each step slowly. So that you can easily prepare, each lesson includes a list of the materials needed. The lessons themselves will include a brief introduction, a short portion where you model or discuss the subject for the day, and then time for your students to engage with the objective.


 I highly recommend giving each of your students a directed drawing notebook! You can print the directed drawing pages and worksheets at 80 percent and then glue them onto the left side of the notebook. Then students complete their drawings on the right side. Not only is this an excellent way to easily document student growth, but it also becomes an easy tool for students to reference when they want to add an illustration to their stories but can't quite remember the steps. 


This covers so much! What is included in the product?

When you purchase this product you will receive over 300 pages of curriculum to use with your students. Not only will you have 21 scripted lesson plans, but the philosophy behind them, examples and notes on how I used them in my classroom, and all of the anchor charts and worksheets needed throughout.

The unit includes 28 directed drawings using only shapes and 4 differentiated options for those directed drawings. I’ve also included editable slides with directed drawing videos. If you want even more directed drawings check out these!  You will have access to 10 different anchor charts and a list of mentor texts that exemplify objectives throughout the unit. 

You will want to easily communicate with families about their child’s learning so I have provided you with simple print-and-go parent letters as well as various rubric options for grading. 

And I cannot forget the most exciting part, to celebrate everything your writers have accomplished I’ve added certificates and special celebration hats! 


You can see a full list of everything that is included here! 

This sounds amazing! But I am worried that my students won’t be ready for it. 

As kindergarten teachers, we all know that students come in at many different points in their educational journey. You will have some reading and writing already, and some that cannot hold a pencil. That is a completely normal starting point for this unit! 

If you have students who aren't able to hold a pencil, follow step-by-step instructions, or simply struggle to draw shapes, I have included a couple of things that will help! The first is the handful of prewriting worksheets and practice pages that are included at the beginning of this unit. These will give your students some extra practice with those basic skills before beginning the directed drawings. If you would like more options, you can grab my Prewriting Bundle here


If they complete those pages and still struggle you can use a highlighter to draw and then have the students simply trace and color. You’ll also find cut and glue options for each directed drawing so that the student (or teacher) can cut out the shapes and then glue them to create the object before coloring. This is an excellent option if you have students that are not able to hold a pencil or need more support. 

Ultimately, this is your classroom and you know your students best! Differentiate as needed and meet your students where they are developmentally! 

I love this unit! What can I do next? 

After this unit, I suggest moving straight into my Labeling Unit where students learn to use letters to label their illustrations. You can grab my entire Kindergarten Writing Bundle here! Your students will love these engaging lessons and YOU’LL love the no-prep lessons, digital anchor charts, and tons of directed drawings for your students!