Learning Vocabulary Easily By Drawing Pictures

Learning Vocabulary Easily By Drawing Pictures

In this blog I will show you a simple, fun and extremely effective way to help your child learn! Drawing pictures to learn vocabulary is the most effective way to retain and incorporate new words. In 2018, there was a study that showed the power of drawing for learning and remembering things, particularly new vocabulary. It showed that making simple drawings to represent new information increased retention by up to 2x.

There’s a saying in English that a picture paints a thousand words. Using simple drawings can help children learn and retain facts about many things such as vocabulary, facts about animals, maths and more.

Why this works

Drawing pictures to remember vocabulary works because a child needs to process the meaning of the word and construct an image in their mind that represents that meaning, they then need to use their hands to put that image onto the page. This means that the child’s mind is really working to understand the meaning and how to represent this meaning. All of these things combined help a strong memory to be formed.

The 2018 study showed that the quality of the drawing is not important for remembering information. The key is the process of putting an idea onto a page. Furthermore, while child are drawing they have time to think about the target words and how to use them in sentences. They might think of other related sentences and things to say using the same vocabulary. This activity will really help unleash their creativity as well as helping them to learn faster.

Putting the idea into practice

Drawing to learn vocabulary will work best with nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Always remember that the goal of learning new vocabulary is that your child is able to use it with confidence.

How to choose appropriate vocabulary

    1. Get the level right: it’s important to introduce vocabulary that is challenging and new to your child, but that isn’t completely out of their comprehension or too difficult to understand.
    2. Focus on useful words: Also think about how much they will use this new vocabulary. Think of words that will add to their daily conversation.
    3. Use batches of vocabulary: it’s good to learn words in a group of perhaps 4 to 8, depending on the age of your child.
    4. Use related vocabulary: Use words that are related, for example emotions, verbs relating to sports, or sea animals.


Example activities

Here are some examples of activities to help your child use the power of drawing to learn vocabulary. Use some or all of these activities and adapt them in any way you like, depending on the age and personality of your child.


Take a new word and make sure your child knows what it means, by giving a very simple definition.

Example sentences

Make some example sentences using the new word, then ask your child to modify those sentences.

Ask your child to experiment

Ask your child to make their own example sentences using the word. Encourage your child to try and tell them when they are using the new vocabulary well.

Drawing sentence

Ask your child to think of a sentence that they can draw. This means it is easy to understand, very memorable (even silly) and easy to draw.


Give your child a relatively small space, it’s easier to draw a small picture. You can make a box on the page the size of a postcard. Ask them to draw a picture that shows a sentence that they have thought of.


Always emphasise to your child that the drawings don’t have to be good, they can just be silly pencil sketches. You can join in with your child the first few times so that they can see the process demonstrated and enjoy the fun of comparing pictures with you.

Here’s an example

For younger children emotions are easy to learn. Happiness is an emotion, so you can do related emotions – angry, sad, excited.

The meanings of the emotions are simple to explain, you can make appropriate faces and ask your child to do the same. “Make a happy face!” A simple sentence could be “I feel happy when I eat cake” Ask your child what makes them happy and to adapt the sentence. Make a few more sentences with happy and then choose one to draw. I recommend splitting a page into 4 sections for the 4 emotions. Repeat the process with the other 3 emotions.

Round up activity

As a follow up you can ask your child to make a sentence or short story incorporating all of the target vocabulary. The story doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to be memorable. You will then be able to see how they use each word and correct any misunderstandings. Using our emotions example for younger children. I might start them off with… “One day I was walking along and felt happy because I saw a ___, then I felt ___ because …” and so on.

For older or more advanced and older students, I would recommend asking them to write a very short story, perhaps 2 or 3 sentences about a character who does different things and goes through different experiences that made them feel the different emotions.


Children usually find learning lists of vocabulary very boring. However, learning should be fun and exciting!  If you put the effort in to making the experience interesting for your child, then they will be much more engaged and they will retain significantly more information. Use the ideas in this blog post as a guide on how to teach your child vocabulary by drawing pictures, ask your child how they would amend any of the activities or if they have their own suggestions.

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