At the age of three or four children draw their first picture, which is of a human. The child draws an oval or a circle with two lines coming out of the bottom for legs, a line from either side for arms (sometimes these are not added), and circles or dots inside the head for eyes, nose and mouth. These drawings are also known as "tadpoles".
When a child first draws a human they are not drawing a picture, but they are developing a skill. To the child the process is more important than the outcome. Children draw what they know, not what they see. From their practice with mandalas and suns emerges a "sun-face" human with some of the "suns rays" for arms and legs.
Some children go through a phase where they draw armless humans. This does not mean they are slipping back in their development. It may mean that they find a head with two legs more appealing than a head with arms and legs. Children rarely draw legless humans.
As a child has more practice drawing humans they add hair or hats, hands or fingers and feet or toes. These additions may be lines, circles or scribbles (as shown in the picture above). If the child draws two humans the biggest human is the most important one.
The "stick figure" is not a part of spontaneous children's art. It is learnt by children at about the age of five or six by copying the work of adults or older children.
Finally the children will add a body to to their head, arms and legs drawing. They do this by drawing two long lines (legs) and putting a horizontal line part way up between them. Children will often draw a belly button in the middle of the body. When children reach this stage they are often drawing other pictorial representations.
This picture was drawn by Brandon, aged 5 years.
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