By Robin Shepard, Early Intervention Program Leader

During our Under the Sea theme, we did an art/skill building activity which illustrates in a straightforward way a technique we use often in the early intervention program called ‘leveled instruction’.

Leveled instruction refers to making a single activity have meaning and be applicable for children at different skill levels. During art, we did an activity called a jellyfish study, using jellyfish as an inspiration for practice drawing shapes. First, the children learned about jellyfish by watching videos of how they move and seeing photos of various kinds and colors of jellyfish.  Then, we used transparent film (since many jellyfish are transparent) and paper to create circles and layer them on top of each other to create the effect of depth.

In our Early Intervention program, each child is at a different level with drawing ability and we must approach him or her at the right level in order to avoid frustration.  At the most basic level, the children are developing visual-spatial awareness and we “scaffold” or assist the instruction by drawing circles and having the children focus on coloring inside the area of the circle only.

At the intermediate levels, children are learning how to draw a circle correctly with verbal assistance or independently.  To extend the activity for children who have mastered circle formation, we move into drawing concentric circles and spirals.  No matter what the level, it is important to give the children choices regarding color and scale so that their own creativity can show through.

While many lessons target the intermediate level of skills, it is always important to help the children who are still building their foundational skills and to challenge the children who show an advanced understanding in a particular area.The resulting pictures illustrate leveled instruction as facilitated through art.

Basic Level:

Leveled Instruction Basic Level

Drawing circles focusing on coloring inside the area of the circle

Intermediate Level:

Drawing a circle correctly with verbal assistance

Drawing a circle correctly with verbal assistance

Drawing a circle correctly with verbal assistance

Drawing a circle correctly with verbal assistance


Advanced Level:

Leveled Instruction Advanced Level

Advanced level of drawing

Robin Shepard

Robin Shepard

Program Leader

Before joining The Essential Learning Group in 2013, Robin worked with children in a mainstream international school environment in Guangzhou. She spent over 4 years developing curricula that incorporated music, full body movement, and learning through play.