Length of session – 2 Hours

Ages 5 – 11


This was run as a holiday club session which was great as the children were able to work solidly for two hours.  The session could however be split into two one hour sessions if needed.

Firstly we had a chat about robots and what they might do.  The children came up with ideas for their own fantasy robot (eg. one that made the bed, cleaned their bedrooms etc).  We talked about what different parts you might find on the robots and what shapes they would be.

Once they had plenty of ideas flowing, we played a game as a group:  I gave them all a sheet of A4 that had been folded into quarters across the short edge and then straightened out again so that the paper was divided into four.  On the first section they drew some robot ‘feet’ (this could be wheels, runners, spring…anything!).  Then they folded it up a few times so it couldn’t be seen and passed it to the next person who drew the legs,  then they folded it and passed it on again for the body and the process was repeated for the head.  After the final pass they opened them up and were highly amused by the results!  NB – make sure they continue their lines slightly onto the section above so that the next person can join their drawing on.


I put the resulting robots up on the wall and we had a chat about their various functions and who had done what.  Now they had loads of ideas to take into their own robot design!

They began by drawing their robot in pencil on A4 paper first.  This isn’t essential but it does help them to hone their ideas and work out the details.  Once they were happy with their design I handed out purple A3 card (why not!) and they drew their design in black sharpie.

I gave them black, white and blue paint.  I showed them how to mix various shades of grey, starting with white and gradually adding black.  I also showed them how they could add a bit of blue to create a few more tones.  Firstly, they all mixed one shade of grey and painted this over all of their robot.  Then I demonstrated how to add dark and light areas by mixing a very dark tone for one edge of the robot and a very light tone for the other edge.



Once they had added their shadows and highlights,  I gave the paintings a blast with the hairdryer to remove any wet paint. Once it was dry, the children used sharpie over the top to add in their finishing touches such as button and dials.   They even gave their robots some great names.

Project Length – Approx. 2 x 1 hour sessions

Ages – 5 – 11

For this project, I wanted the children to begin to really look at their faces and question their previous understanding.  I began by providing them with mirrors and asking them to look carefully at their faces. We had a discussion about where the various features are on the face and I showed them how to use a pencil to measure features in relation to each other.  I provided the children with a generic face shape template.  I gave them the choice as to whether they would use this to give them a rough outline to get them started or just go for it by themselves.  Older and more confident children opted to have a go at drawing freehand while others were glad of the template.  On the templates I had marked off thirds on each side and the top and bottom.  Once they had drawn around the template they used these marks as a guide to make small dots on their outline.  Those that hadn’t used the templates had a bit of help to mark off thirds on their drawings.

At this point we looked in the mirror again and talked about how the face fits roughly into the ‘rule of thirds’.  Once again they used pencil measuring to prove to themselves that the eyes are, in fact, a third of the way down the face (many found this hard to believe at first!) and that the bottom of the nose is two thirds from the top.  I showed them how to lightly draw in lines to join the dots up on their face outlines, firstly dividing it into thirds and then adding in the top to bottom line to divide it into sixths.


We stayed working as a group to get the features in place, with me drawing on my example sheet at the front.  I showed them how to draw the eyes as if they were ‘hanging off’ the first horizontal line.  It is worth reminding them to look carefully at the shape of their eyes when doing this as some children will think they are circular. We added the iris and pupil to the eye and then drew in the nostrils and the bottom on the nose sitting on the second horizontal line.  We divided the final third in half again as  guide as to where the lips should be.  Once again I told them to look carefully in the mirror at their mouths.  They held a pencil straight up from the corners of their mouths to see where it lined up with the eye (be carefully that the sharp end isn’t pointing towards the eye!).  The final part of the group drawing was to get the ears in place.  It is worth looking carefully again here as many children were surprised at the where their ears began and finished!


After this guided drawing I let them continue to work on their own, adding in all of the additional details such as hair, eye brows, neck and shoulders.  Most children pretty much had their drawings done by the end of session 1.

In the second session, the main aim was to get the children mixing up skin tones.  I provided them with white, yellow, red and blue ready mixed tempera paint.  To get them started, I did a demonstration at the front in which I showed them how to mix a peachy skin tone and a brown skin skin tone.  They had a look in the mirrors again and we had a chat about what kind of skin tone they each had.  Some less confident or younger children chose to use the tones I had mixed but add to them to make them more personal to them.  Others wanted to challenge themselves to mix the correct tone from scratch, which was great.  Once the skin tone was down they carried on mixing to create their eye and hair colour.  I encouraged children who finished quickly to go back and have a really careful look at their faces and add in more details.  The finishing touch was to add a background colour to really enhance the portrait.

A lot of children found this a challenging project and were on a steep learning curve with regard to really looking and questioning as they draw.  Most were ultimately really pleased with the final results though and they have learnt a lot of new skills to take away.



Project Length – Approx 2 x 1 hour sessions

Ages – 5 – 11

For this project I showed the children a print out of Andy Warhol’s ‘Marilyn’.  I gave them a brief overview of pop art and Andy Warhol and we discussed what they thought about the picture.  I explained that they were going to make their own self-portrait pop art.

In advance of this lesson I had taken photographs of all of the children and printed them out, A5 size.  I handed out the photos and the children used a black sharpie to outline the main features of the face and also the outline of the hair, the neck, the shoulders and the face itself.  They then were given tracing paper and they positioned it on top of the photo.  Some children found it easier to use the reverse of the photo for this as the sharpie had gone through to the other side.  I gave them a piece of tape to keep it in place and they traced the outlines onto the tracing paper.

I then showed them how to transfer the image onto a large sheet of paper by turning the tracing paper over so that the side they had drawn on was on the paper and very carefully retracing lines (little ones or those with weaker motor skills might need a bit of help to press hard enough here for the line to transfer).  They got very excited when they saw how the image had magically transferred to the paper below! They were working on A3 paper which I had folded into quarters as a guide for positioning.  As I wasn’t sure how much time they would need, I told them to just do two at the top of the page first and then we could do the extra two at the bottom if we had time. They transferred the image twice using the tracing paper and then went over the lines with a black sharpie.  They rubbed out any pencil lines they no longer needed.


Then it was time for the really fun part – adding colour!  I showed them the Andy Warhol picture again as a source of inspiration but told them that they could do whatever they liked.  We used Crayola Super Tips for this.  Some children chose to keep it quite simple (one even experimented just with black and white) while others jumped at the opportunity to really go to town with the colour.  I thought that this was great as it was a lovely chance to let their personalities shine through.


I encouraged them to add background colours to really make their pictures ‘pop’.  Some did manage all four quarters while other just stuck to two. There was a big age range and some children like to take their time more than others so it meant that everyone could achieve what they wanted to.  I think they did a pretty good job!

Project Length – 2 x approx 1 hour sessions

Ages – 5 – 11

In this project the children took their inspiration at the cubist portraits of Picasso.  We began by looking at examples of his portraits and discussed their response to them.  Did they like them?  What is strange about them?  Why would Picasso choose to paint like that?  I gave them heavy black A4 paper and white chalk.

With a piece of paper positioned at the front of the group so that all children could see it, I led them through the first stages of the drawing.  I find that this technique of ‘guided drawing’ is helpful to get them all going at the start of a project.  It ensures that they all have the foundations for success and is particularly useful in making sure they scale of the drawing is appropriate (I often find that children tend to work very small).  The children made a dot on the paper where they intended to start, thinking about leaving space for hair/hat at the top of the head.  They looked at each other’s profiles and then drew in the profile of the face on the paper using the white chalk.  I told them not to worry if they need to change something; they could just smudge it out with a finger and re-draw as it would all disappear underneath the oil pastel later.  Once the profile was in place we drew one eye in profile on the left side and one eye straight-on on the right side.  I explained that the lips are the part that ‘joins’ the two sides together so we draw a line through the middle of the mouth and then draw in the lips so that the profile side and the straight on side joined.

Once the features were all drawn in I stopped guiding them and left them to do their own thing.  Firstly they drew in the shape of the face.  We looked again at the Picasso pictures for some inspiration and they enjoyed creating some weird and wonderful face shapes.  Then they got creative with the hair, hats, flowers etc.  They added in necks and shoulders where they had space and thought about what clothes their person might be wearing.

I paused them at this stage and demonstrated how to use oil pastels as many hadn’t used them before.   I told them I was looking to see them mixing and blending the colours to create interesting shades and patterns and showed them how to do this on my example. I divided my picture up into smaller sections and talked them through picking colours and adding details.  They really enjoyed using the oil pastels on black paper and definitely rose to the challenge of covering up all of the paper and using a nice thick layer of pastel.

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Once the face was coloured they thought about a background colour that would compliment it and the completed their pictures by defining the different areas with a black or dark coloured pastel.  This brought the whole thing together and created that Picasso-look we were after.


Time Needed: Approx 2 x 45 minute sessions

Ages 5 – 11

We have made reduction prints previously in our classes and they have been a great success.  For this project I wanted to introduce the idea of the printed image being reversed and using letters seemed like an ideal way to do this.  I used Scola Water Based Lino Craft Block Printing Ink.  It is nice and tacky so the block doesn’t slip but can also be easily washed from hands and clothes.  You can buy it in a lovely range of colours from Amazon.

First the children either drew (older ones) or traced (younger ones) their initial letter onto a sheet of A6 tracing paper using a pencil.  They then flipped it over (this is where the reversing comes in) onto an A6 piece of polystyrene.  Using a pencil they traced over the lines to transfer the image onto the polystyrene.  Then they took off the tracing paper and went over the lines again to ensure there was enough indentation to make a good print.  They inked up their block in the first colour (we found yellow is good for this as it takes other colours over the top well) and made their print onto an A4 sheet of white paper.  I showed them how to press down while making sure the block doesn’t move.  Some younger children will need a bit of help with this.  Then they peeled off the block and were excited to see their letter the correct way round on the page!

I passed around baby wipes and the wiped their block clean, drying them with a bit of kitchen paper.  They then started work on making patterns in the background of the block.  I told them that they could make marks anywhere except the letter itself.  We talked about using a finger to check that they had made enough of a mark to create a clear print.  Once the background designs were complete the children inked up their blocks in their second colour  ( I find it easiest to keep them all on the same colour to avoid mixing up rollers), we used red.  Now for the trickiest bit: The blocks needed to be lined up carefully on top of where they had already printed.  Older children managed this quite well but I would advise helping out younger ones and checking the orientation of the block is correct to avoid any disasters.  Once again, they pressed down and carefully removed the block.  They were thrilled to see their design taking shape!


The blocks were wiped and cleaned again and I showed them how to either cut out the letter itself using scissors or gently ‘pop’ it out by easing it away from the background.  Again, younger children may need a hand.  Once the letter was free they made some marks on it using a pencil and then inked it up in the third colour.  With a steady hand, they placed the letter carefully on top of their print and gave it a careful press.  It is best to use fingers tips for this rather than a whole hand as this can make the existing print messy.  Then they carefully removed the letter to see their completed creations.  They were super proud to show their parents what they had made!


NB – I advise having masking tape on hand for any broken bits of letter!  We managed to patch up a few that had been over-enthusiastically removed from the background in this way.


The children in our art clubs have been busy getting to grips with the idea of printing this week.    We had a short discussion about printing before hand and many of the children realised that they had printed before even if it was simply using potatoes or hands.  We talked about different kinds of printing and I explained that we were going to be making a printing block using foam shapes. I showed them how to play about with their design on an A5 piece of polysterene before sticking anything down.  I encouraged them  to use scissors to cut more interesting shapes out of the shapes provided.  They thought about pattern and symmetry. Some children chose to create a representational image such as a flower while others preferred to work in a more abstract way.  One of the best parts of this project is that it really allows children to do their own thing and put their own personal stamp on their work.


Once they were happy with their design they glued it down using lots of PVA.  They needed quite a lot of reminders to use plenty of glue so that the pieces would stay in place when we came to printing.  I checked that everything was well stuck down at the end of the session and added any glue to parts that needed it.

In the second session the children were given black printing ink and rollers.  I use paper plates for this as it is so much easier to clear up at the end.  I showed them how to ensure they get an even coverage on their printing block by taking the roller both up and down and side to side.  They then lined their block up in the top corner of an A3 sheet of white paper and stood up so that they could use their hands to apply an even pressure on the block.  They were very excited to peel off the block and see the results!


Once they had the hang of it, they made another three prints on the A3 sheet, thinking carefully about the position of the block.  Some of the older children chose the experiment by rotating the image and achieved some lovely results.

NB – it is a good idea to have a couple of sheet of sticky-backed foam with you in case you need to make any last minute repairs!


We had a couple of great holiday club sessions over the Easter Holidays.  I always enjoy running these sessions as the longer time (two hours) gives the opportunity to really get stuck into a process or technique and send the children home with some lovely finished work at the end of it.  We also seem to be super fortunate with the lovely and talented children who come along to these sessions!

This was a bit of a messy one, but also lots of fun:

The children began by creating their wonderfully colourful backgrounds.  They did this by first of all dampening a large sheet of water colour paper with water and then applying food colouring directly to the sheet.  I had considered using pipettes for this but as the food colouring came in handy little pots with their own droppers we just used them straight from the containers.  Once they had made lots of different coloured drops on the paper they helped them to spread across the wet background using a paint brush.  They really enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful bright colours spread and marge.  NOTE: they need reminders not to splurge all of the colours together completely to keep them nice and bright!

We then set the backgrounds aside to dry and moved to another table where I had set out a range of flowers.  They spent some time doing some observational drawing in pencil, looking carefully at the different shapes of the flowers, both inside and out.

By this time, backgrounds were nearly dry so we moved back to the ‘messy’ table to practice a bit with the Indian Ink.  On some scrap paper, the children had a go at making a variety of lines and marks by dipping the bamboo skewers into the ink.  They gradually started to gain confidence in drawing in this way.  Once they were happy with this we started work drawing a selection of flowers onto the background.  I showed them how to look for flower-like shapes in the blobs of colour and pick them out using the ink.  The variety of blob shapes provided good templates for a range of flowers. Some children added in additional features such as leaves and insects.  The older children were able to use the skewers to achieve lots of detail and interesting mark making.


Obviously Indian Ink is a bit messy so I would recommend aprons and table covers all round for this one!  We managed to get through it with only a couple of spills and some beautiful creations to show for it.





I like to use work by well known artists as a starting point for our projects.  It opens the children’s minds to the world of art and can be a great starting point for discussions.  Children can gain a lot by thinking about the process that an artist went through to create a picture.  As we are looking at landscapes this half term, I decided to show them this picture by David Hockney.  I thought that they would be interested in the fact that he created it on an iPad and it is a great example of perspective to draw in the viewers gaze.

We used a guided drawing technique for the first part of this two week project.  This allowed us to talk through the various features with the children and plan the picture so that the main elements were in the correct positions.  To do  this, we pin a large piece of paper up at the front of the class and take the children through the process step by step.  They work in pencil at first, but we try to keep rubbing out in these early stages to a minimum so that the pace isn’t lost.  Once they were happy with the positioning of the main features they worked on their own to add more trees and other features.

They then worked in black sharpie, being careful to only trace the lines they wanted as the branches criss-crossed over each other.  This required some concentration!  They then rubbed out the pencil lines.


The second session was used to add colour to their pictures.  They did this using Crayola Markers.  (I have tried many markers with my art clubs and have found that these offer the best combination of range of shades and durability).  Before they began, we looked again at the Hockney picture and discussed the colours.  They saw that while some of the colours used were life-like (the browns and the greens of the trees), many were ‘hyper-real’ and that this added to the vibrancy of the picture.  They had a great time putting their own personal stamp on their pictures using the markers while still maintaining the Hockney vibe. 20190319_100325

They had to work hard to get this done in just two sessions but I think you’ll agree that they have worked out pretty well!

You can see more of this super work on our gallery page – Gallery

We began our new ‘Landscape’ topic last week.  We kicked off with a stand alone session (around 45 mins to 1 hour) to introduce the children to the idea of landscape drawing, perspective and colour mixing.

The children worked in pairs at first and were given a print out of a landscape scene that had been cut into eight strips.  They arranged the strips so that it made a complete picture and then push every other one up slightly.  One child took the strips which had been pushed up and the other child took those that remained.  They then arranged them on a sheet of A4 paper, leaving gaps between each one (remembering to keep them in the correct order!).  Once they were happy with the arrangement they glued them down using Pritt Stick.

The next stage was to use pencils to roughly sketch in the missing lines.  They looked at the mountains and imagined the shape of those that weren’t there so that they all joined together.  Then they did the same for the shore line, tree line, clouds and rocks.  We tried to keep this part quite brief so as to leave time for the fun colouring bit.  Once most children had their outlines sketched in I took them through how to use water colour pencils.  Again, I kept this quite short as one of the purposes of this session was for the children to experiment themselves.

They set to with the pencils, using different shades and tones to build up colour to match the strips on either side.  They experimented with using black to darken a shade and found that this needed to be done with a lightness of touch!  They also found that sometimes colours occurred that they would not necessarily expect, for example, purple in the sky or yellow in the grass.  It was a bit of a rush to get them finished in one session but I think they have done a great job!


This was a two week project with each session lasting around 45 minutes.

Session One

The children were each given a lump of clay and told to roll it into a ball and then squish it down with the heel of their hand. Once it was slightly flattened, they rolled it out further using a rolling pin to the thickness of approximately 2 £1 coins (be careful that they don’t roll them too thinly as they will break when dry). They then placed a paper plate on the top to use as a template and cut around the edges to create a disc. Using a sheet of cling film to stop the clay sticking to the plate they carefully placed the clay disc on the paper plate and pressed around the sides to gently mould it into a plate shape with raised edges. Once this was in place they were free to decorate the plate in anyway they wanted. They were given some ideas such as stripes, circles, spirals but they really enjoyed the opportunity to get create and do their own thing using a range of mark making tools provided. Once complete, the plates were left to dry.

Session Two

The children used acrylic paints to decorate their plates. We talked about planning a colour scheme and putting some thought into which colours they would use. For instance, would they stick to a ‘family’ of colours or would they use a wider range of hues? We also talked about the necessity to paint the background colours in first with a larger brush then the details on top using a thinner brush. The children all took great care in using the paint to enhance their patterns and make them really come to life. I love how each plate is completely unique and tells us something about its creator.