I almost always will demonstrate steps to a project.
Many times I don't have a finished picture to show them.
Right now, my 5th/6th graders (we have combined grade level classes.. which is a whole other blog post I could write to explain how that works) are working on these radial name designs.
When I demonstrated this project, I showed them a powerpoint slideshow about Islamic artwork and emphasized the repeating geometric patterns.
Then I sat down with the kids surrounding me and showed them how to fold the paper. (You can see the steps in the original blog post) I demonstrated how to draw my name within a triangle. Then, I set the kids off to work on that step.
I have found that for me, it works best to break down the projects into small steps so there are not too many directions to remember.
When several of the kids started to finish that step, I brought them back to the demonstration table and I showed them how to outline their name in sharpie and how to fold it and trace the image on a light table (last year I used carbon paper and this year I decided to use light tables, which was much easier). That was the first class of this project. If kids finished early, the could free draw for their sketchbooks. I don't usually let kids go on ahead to the next step, because if there are more directions I want to explain them all thoroughly to the whole class before letting them start.
During the second class I explained and showed them how to color each of the sections and how to use the Crayola color switcher markers. For this project, I did have a finished example to show them, but I felt that these projects always turn out so different that I didn't need to worry too much about copycat pictures.
Pretty much I ALWAYS demonstrate when possible. I find that when I just explain something with words there is usually confusion.
Even if it's something simple like how to color in neatly, I find that it will prevent a lot of questions or rushed work. When I do a project with the younger classes, I always remind and review how to glue with a glue stick or bottle. I demonstrate how to apply the glue to the back of what you want to glue and how to smooth it flat.
Sometimes I will show things on the white board while standing in front, but usually it is best to have the kids all around me so I can easily make sure they are all paying attention.
Sometimes it helps to have a finished example, but then I notice that sometimes kids will end up copying things from the example. When I demonstrate I try to talk them through many different options or ways to approach the project.
So, what do you do? How do you present your lessons?
Do you usually have an example to show the kids?