Thursday, 19 February 2015



Tudor Portraits - Artist Study of Hans Holbein the Younger

During Term 3, my years 3 and 4 art group have been learning about the Tudors through their class text The Thief, The Fool and The Bog Fat King. The book is set in the court of King Henry the VIII. I took this opportunity to introduce the children to the work of Hans Holbein and take a close look at his portraits. By studying Holbein the children were introduced to not just Henry the VIII but his wives and children too.
We spent most of the first session looking at his work and completing some of the activities from my posts about how to engage children in looking at art. My classroom Facebook display also featured Holbein during this term. We played Ping Pong Critic (please see earlier posts) and looked for textures and lines in his work. Then the children had to recreate a portrait of one of Tudor family members.
I used the task to encourage the use of light sketchy lines to begin their work as many children especially in year 3 still press very hard with their pencils initially. We also looked at drawing facial features by sectioning the face in a cross and where to draw the nose from.
I did limit the children to using colouring pencils to add colour and texture as I felt that felt tip pens would destroy their opportunities to add texture. I know most children love using felt tips but they can easily ruin a piece of work if the children press to hard on thin paper it can create holes. Colouring pencils are much easier hen wanting to  create value and texture. Felt tips can to be blended.
You could extend the project by asking the children to create a pencil portrait then recreate it or up scale it using view finders then ask them to paint their portraits but it will depend on how much time you want to spend on a project. For the pencil drawings alone we spent two sessions (one hour a session).
Finally I created a Tudor display board of their finished portraits. I have found a great website which I have added to my useful website lists. is great for lettering for displays and has become my latest obsession. I have also updated the list with other websites I regularly use for displays.


WW2 Art


Anderson Shelter Models

As part of the curriculum my year 5 and 6 art group have been studying WW2. As part of their learning I though it would be good to come up with a project that would last a large chunk of the term. I came up with the idea for the children to create models of Anderson Shelters.
I didn't introduce the project until half way through the term because I wanted the children to of gained knowledge of their topic through their other subject lessons. By the time we started they had gained a lot from lessons plus a trip to the STEAM Museum in Swindon.
I specifically gave them a very broad scope to be creative and individual. I put out a full range of water based paints and brush sizes, a selection of tissue paper and card, glue, felt tip pens, tinfoil and provided each child with the same size cardboard base. They were free to take from a large roll of corrugated card which I got for a very reasonable price from the schools resource suppliers.
The only other aid I gave the children was a paper template for the two ends of the shelter. The use of this was optional. I gave no modelling or specifications on how to construct their models and this yielded surprising results. I did show a power point of other models made by children which they could gain inspiration from. I found that giving them this freedom really allowed me to watch their techniques and gain knowledge of their understanding of basic techniques. As basic as brush control and understanding of properties of paints and materials. As a teacher, this was a really useful process of assessing gaps in their knowledge that we can cover in future sessions.

One tip I will give is that standing by with a glue gun for fixing issues was a great help. If your brave enough, you could allow the children to use the glue gun themselves. I remember being allowed in primary school to use a glue gun to fix wood together but I was unsure how health and safety regulations play into this now. So, I would recommend checking out risk assessments etc if your allowing the children to use the gun.  



Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Great Fire of London

Marbling Fire Silhouettes


By using marbling inks in water, my year 1 and 2 classes created wonderful fire of London pictures.

You can get marbling ink from any craft shop but I have seen this done with powdered coloured chalk too. I used marbling ink because I wanted that swirl effect you get in fire.

Fill a tray, that will fit an A4 piece of paper, with water about 2cm deep. Drop a few dots of ink into the water. I used the three warm colours to get the best fire affect. Allow the children to swirl the inks gently with a straw or pencil.

Lay the sheet of white paper on top. Careful not to press the paper into the water. I used a sheet or cartridge paper which is usually used for watercolours as it handles the water better. If the paper is too thin, the paper will curl whilst drying. The pattern made by the ink on top of the water will be transferred to the paper.

You can get a couple of vivid prints from the ink before needing to add more ink. The more often you replace the ink the more bright and fire looking the prints will be.

While the prints were drying, the children drew house silhouettes on black sugar paper and cut them out so they could be stuck on the bottom of the fire prints.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Great Fire of London

Fire Sculptures


When I first thought up this activity I was a little worried that I was being over ambitious by doing this with years one and two (5-7 year olds). But, the results were really outstanding.
I began by drawing a large flame outline on a piece of A4 white paper and photocopying it so every child had one.
The children then placed a sheet of cling film over the top of their flame out line. Pouring PVA glue into the middle of the cling film, the children spread it out to create a rough flame shape. They need quite a lot of glue so the layer is around 5mm thick. If the glue spreads outside the outline it can be cut off after it dries so it's not an activity that needs to be precise.
Once the children had spread the glue, I provided them with a selection of warm coloured tissue paper. This can be a great way to introduce warm colours to young children and talk about the connection between warm colours and things that are hot or warm.

If they start with the inside colour first and work out it is easier to control the flame shape. The way of sculpting I explained to the class was to make sausages of tissue paper and place it into the glue. Make longer sausage of tissue paper for each section to wrap around. We used the darkest colour (red) in the middle moving to the lightest (yellow) on the outside.
Finally, apply a layer of glue over the top of the tissue paper to harden the sculpture.
Leave to dry over night in a dry warm place. In the morning the cling film should peel away from the dried glue. By now both sides should be hard and shiny. Now the flames can be cut neatly getting rid of any left over dried glue or tatty pieces of tissue paper. The flames look good with a whole punched through the top and hung from the ceiling or stapled to a display board.


Art Activities to Engage Children

Drawing Activities


       1)      View Finders – Use small and varied shaped view finders to concentrate children’s focus on to parts of a piece of art.


2)      Observational drawing (ks2 +) – Give the children a time limit to draw exactly what they see in a piece of art. You could possible combine this with the use of viewfinders. Another version is for the children to stare at the piece of art for one minute then remove the picture and ask the children to draw what they saw. Alternatively, the children can only look continually at the picture whilst moving their pencil across their paper for a full minute. Then share and reflect on their work. Was there anything you missed?


3)      Guided drawing – highlight an element of art within a piece of art work. I.e. line, shape, colour and ask the children to focus on reproducing this element.


4)      Draw and describe – In pairs one child is to sit with their back to the piece of art and another to sit opposite facing the art. The child facing the art work is to describe what they see in detail. The child facing away is to draw what is being described. The only real rules for this activity is that the drawer is not allowed to ask any questions whilst the describer should not respond in any to the drawers reproduction. Giving this activity a longer time limit can help to ensure the describer gives good quality detail.


Sound and Movement                              


1)      Guided Looking (follow a line) - show children a piece of art (best carried out on an abstract pieces of art). Ask the children to find a line within the art and follow it across, around or through the picture. Then ask some questions about the journey the line took the children on. What was the quality of the line? Was it thick or thin, broken or solid? Did it travel under or over other lines? What does it tell us about the artist?


2)      Living Sculpture (cross curricular links to PE) – Ask children alone, in pairs or as a group to strike a pose or gesture that they observe in the painting or piece of art.


3)      What Sound (cross curricular links to Music) – Ask the children to identify an element of art within an artwork and then assign sounds particular parts. For example, when looking for colours, get the children to assign a sound to each colour and use them to create a beat or sound to the piece of work.

Talking Activities 

1)      Turn and Talk – in pairs children to spend time sharing ideas about what they see and why in a piece of art.


2)      Whip Around – show children a piece of art and then go around the class asking the children to say the first word that comes into their mind when they look at it. The only rule is NO REPEATING. You could encourage the children to say either nouns or adjectives. If you keep a record of the word they could be displayed around the room.


3)      Visual Inventory – in pairs or alone children could make a list of all the things they can see in a piece of art. Great with works of art like Lowry. Then share and reflect. The sharing stage allows children to look again in detail is there anything that they didn’t see?




1)      Exceptional corpse – Give the children a piece of paper folded in four strips. The first child draws a head of a character folds it over so it cannot be seen and passes the paper to the next child. The second draws the tors and repeats the fold. The third will draw the legs and finally the fourth child will draw the feet or tail. Once all the sections are drawn the children unfold their work and discuss the results.


2)      Material Bingo (Great for trips to an art gallery) – Give the children a bingo card but instead of numbers they have pictures of possible materials that art can be made from. Whilst the children explore the gallery, they check off the materials the first to get a line could get a prize or to fill the whole bingo card.


3)      Everyone’s a Critic – children will need to be in teams of 3. Two children will be the artists and one the critics. Give the class a theme word and either three options of art work. If being played in an art gallery they can explore for themselves to find a pieces of art that represents that theme. The two artist have to convince their critic that their chosen piece of art fits the theme. Whichever one the critic choses as the most convincing wins.