On some projects and in some cases I allow kids to use templates or stencils for certain shapes. I know that using templates in the art room is not a popular thing to do (or even the dirty little secret of some art teachers); here are some reasons to keep them around the primary art room.
If you didn't teach how to do it right or well...If I am teaching a lesson to young kids on say, where to place the features on the head, I don't have time to also teach them how to draw a good oval or egg shape. My class is only 45 minutes plus for elementary you have to limit the amount of instructions to what they can hold in their head. If you have them freehand the oval, inevitably someone or a table full in the class will spend their whole 25 minutes trying to make that initial shape PERFECT. If the lesson is not on how to draw face shapes, then we shouldn't hold them accountable for drawing it freehand if it gives them stress. I mean it is stressing them out because they were not taught how to draw an oval easily and correctly.
Which brings me to...
What you might like aesthetically may not be what the kids like: Alice Neel vs. Vermeer
|Robbie Tillotson, 1973 by Alice Neel|
Straight Edges or Templates - what's the differenceHave you let kids use rulers to create a straight line when needed? What is the difference between that and an ellipse template?
Guaranteeing a size or positionSometimes you need a young child to draw the FIRST shape a certain size. You explain how to do it and 90% make it the right size but 10% will always need to restart from the beginning. If you don't catch it right away that can really upset a young artist.
Professionals use themI am also a still-life artist and my work is realistic. If I am doing a still-life and the ellipse on a cup is off, it will throw the whole aspect of realism off. So if I have redone one several times and it still feels wrong I will get out an ellipse template. I learned about ellipse templates in art school and later in a workshop with another professional artist.
|Still-life with elipses by Nicole Caulfield (me)|
It is really just ScaffoldingFor more information on scaffolding see Wikipedia Instructional Scaffolding
If you want to teach how to draw a good ellipse or oval - here is a great tutorial I found by Mike Sibley. http://www.sibleyfineart.com/tutorial--draw-ellipses.htm
or buy some of these from Dick Blick for your classroom for when you don't have time to teach everything.