Around the age of seven, most children have developed into what is known as the schematic or symbolic stage. Up until this time, drawings the child made varied from day to day. By the symbolic age, a child has developed or formalized his 'symbols', or drawings of himself and other things. He will repeat the same drawing over and over again. In other words, he has his system of drawing symbols down pat.
There are other notable developments that come with this age. Color becomes meaningful. A child will make grass green, the sky blue, and the sun yellow. His use of space evolves from symbols floating around on a page to symbols touching a baseline. At this age the placement of objects drawn on a page are explored. The child is developing an order to his symbols just as he is developing an order of letters, words, and sentences. This age marks the difference of boy and girl preferences of what they want to create in art. Girls may prefer to draw flowers and houses. Boys often prefer the more mechanical types of drawing, like cars. At this stage the child has grown in his understanding of his world and this is what he likes to communicate through his art.
This is a different twist on a drawing activity. You will need a fairly heavy piece of paper and chalk. First dampen the paper with a wet sponge. Make a drawing using chalk. The wetness of the paper will make the colors brighter and more exciting to a child.
At this age painting should be done on larger pieces of paper with smaller brushes for detail work. One variation of a painting activity is to use sponges to paint with instead of brushes. The paper should be soaked with water and laid wrinkle-free on a smooth surface. Apply paint with different shaped pieces that have been cut from a sponge and moisten with water.
This is a fun activity of children of this age to do. You need several pieces of construction paper, tempera paint, scissors, and glue. First you fold your paper in half. Along one side of the crease, sprinkle a few drops of paint of each color used. Fold paper in half again and press with your hand. Open the paper. The blotted mono print might resemble several things like a butterfly, flower, or perhaps an alien. Repeat several times. Cut out each mono print. Having an idea of what these mono prints resemble, arrange them into a picture onto another piece of paper and glue down. Add detail using a small brush and paint.
It is important to remember that the child who is at the symbolic stage is expressing himself through art. As he experiments with the placement of different images on the paper he is developing his placement in his environment. With encouragement given to a child's art, a parent can help his child feel comfortable with who he is and know where he is in relation to his world.