First we learned about the artisans of Oaxaca Mexico. I have gathered a few sculptures and many images throughout the years. If you don't know their story it is truly inspirational. I will devote another post to this art history!
We distinguish between fantasy and realism. Students create animals that are imaginary in color, but realistic in form. A cheetah will look like a cheetah, but it can't be painted oranges or browns or yellows.
My third grade ESL students drew these amazing animals! The process is important. We used white boards for lots of practice and they had lots of pictures to choose from. Easy coloring book pictures work best for beginners. I teach kids how to look for simple geometric shapes in the animal. Once the student made a drawing on the white board they liked, I gave them white paper to trace it. So in the end they are tracing their own white board drawing. Pretty cool... I think ATHG uses this method too (correct me in I'm wrong.)