Duplication Exercise

Train your students to notice details and “see like artists” with this fun activity!

In her classic drawing books, Drawing with Children and Drawing for Older Children and Teens, art teacher and author Mona Brookes offers an engaging way to practice seeing and drawing using her “Duplication Exercise”. This activity is completely adaptable to any ability level, K through adult. You can start out easy and increase the difficulty as you go, as you can see in this spread from Mona Brookes’ book. And did I mention that it’s FUN, too??!

I created a Duplication Exercise for my last teacher workshop (with designs drawn in and being copied at the top of this post). All you do is draw a simple (or not so simple) design in each box across the top and then make a copy for each of your students. Then ask them to copy each design in the box below it. This activity will train them to really look closely at their subject and notice details. If you like to doodle (and who doesn’t?) you will enjoy both creating the designs to be copied as well as copying designs that others have created. Students love this activity and especially enjoy making their own designs for their classmates to copy. This process is even therapeutic…. try it during testing week or as a “filler” when other work is finished.

Be sure to check out Drawing with Children and Drawing for Older Children and Teens for more great ideas on developing your students’ drawing skills!

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7 Responses to Duplication Exercise

  1. Holly@MotherIsNotConcerned May 29, 2009 at 5:54 am #

    Thanks for the great idea and book rec. I’ve done something similar with my 6-year-old, but not with designs. He loved making pictures for me to copy.

  2. mrs. kelly "sully" yackel November 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    love this idea= do you have a pdf. version of the exercise to share?



  3. TeachKidsArt November 10, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Thanks, Kelly… I don't have that yet, but hopefully will before too long. Stay tuned!

  4. Jen August 21, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Hello, I have purchased both Mona Brooks’ books, “Drawing with Children” and “Drawing with Older Children,” but was never able to find the pages with the duplication exercises. Do you remember the name of the book you photocopied for your photo?

    • Cheryl Trowbridge August 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      Jen, the photo of the open book is from my copy (1991) of “Drawing For Older Children & Teens”, page 82/83. The photo at the top of the post is just a worksheet that I made. This activity is easy to customize to the ability level of your students. If it’s too easy, they just fly through it, and if it’s too hard they’ll get frustrated and not even know where to begin. But when you start at an appropriate level and gradually increase the complexity, students love the challenge and enjoy coming up with their own strategies for re-creating each design… great for developing problem solving skills!

  5. Caira Williams February 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    I LOVE ART Sooooooooooooo Muuuuuuuucccchhhhhhhhh