Length of project – approx. 2 x 1hr

Ages 5 – 11


The final project of out Line and Shape drawing topic has a lovely Christmassy vibe and also really gives the children a chance to push themselves and consolidate what they have learnt this term.



We began by looking at this picture of a reindeer.  Before we even put pencil to paper we discussed what lines and shapes they could see.  They spotted straight lines, curved lines and some angle lines.  They also noticed that the eye and nostril were ‘squashed dot shapes’.  Then we broke the reindeer down into some simple shapes, just using pencil at this stage to allow for adjustments:

  • A large oval for the body
  • A ’rounded triangle’ for the head (we used 4 fingers to measure the distance away from the body)
  • Two curved lines for the neck

One we had the basic shape in place, I showed them how to use fingers to measure where they wanted the legs to finish (most went for around 4).  This avoids reindeer with either massively long or really short legs! They drew a feint line to mark where the legs would stop.  Then we continued looking at line and shape:

  • The front leg closest to us (two slightly curved lines and an angle line for the hoof)
  • The back leg closest to us (angle lines)
  • The front leg on the far side (notice it is IN-FRONT of the leg they have already drawn and finishes higher up)
  • The back leg on the far side ( BEHIND the other back leg – angle lines but they also finish higher up)
  • Curved line for the tail
  • Angle line for the ear
  • Dots for eye and nostril

By now, the reindeer were really taking shape.  Some children had made adjustments as they went by making the head bigger, body smaller etc.  We just needed the finishing touch of the antlers!  We looked at the shape and how they are made up of curved and angle lines.  Some children were worried about getting them ‘wrong’ but with some encouragement they all did a great job and their drawing instantly became reindeer!

Once they were happy with all of the elements, they went over their pencil lines with sharpie and rubbed out those that they no longer needed.  Then they were given free rein (!) to create a seasonal setting for their reindeer.


They loved this and had some brilliant ideas.  We used Crayola Markers to add colour once all of the details were in place.  A super-festive piece of art!


Length of session – 2 x approx. 1 hour

Ages 5 – 11

As part of our ‘back to basics’ drawing topic this term, the children have been applying what they have learnt about line and shape by creating a bird drawing.

We began this two week topic with some guided drawing.  The children worked with black sharpie straight away to build up their mark making confidence.  I talked them through the bird in stages, as detailed in ‘Drawing with Children’ by Mona Brookes.  This is a really nice way for them to see how lines and shapes can come together to create something recognisable.  For younger children, it is helpful to give them a starting point so that the bird is positioned on the paper so that it can all fit in.

We began with the eye ( a dot and a circle) and then continued from there, adding the beak (straight and angled lines); the head (curved lines); the body (straight and curved lines); wings (curved lines); feet (straight and curved lines) and tail feathers (curved lines).  I stressed to the children that all of the birds would have different proportions and look different from one another but that this was a good thing as it made it ‘theirs’.  Once the bird was in place, they were let loose with their creativity to add in a setting for their picture, using a range a marks to create texture.  Some chose to add other birds or creepy crawlies as well.

This took us to the end of the first session.  At the beginning of the second session, I talked to the children about how to use the coloured markers effectively. I modelled using them smoothly and filling in shapes with care.  I also showed them how they could layer colours to add pattern and texture.  We discussed the colour of leaves and tree trunks and how they have a range of shades rather than being one flat colour.

The children had great fun using the markers and really let their individuality show.



Length of session – 1 hour

Ages 5 – 11


This half term we are going ‘back to basics’ with our drawing at Art Explorers.  We use an adapted version of the Mona Brookes method from her book, ‘Drawing With Children’.  We began by looking at the different types of line and shape and played some ‘looking’ games to get the children warmed up.

Once they were secure in the idea of straight, curved and angle lines, circles and dots we then moved on to using these elements to create an abstract picture.

The first part of this session is guided drawing so it is essential that all children are properly engaged and listening before you begin. I told them first to draw three straight lines on their paper (A4), each one starting on one edge and finishing on another using a black sharpie.  They can cross, or not – it’s up to them.  They were then instructed to draw three dots anywhere on the paper but to try to vary the size and shape each time.  Larger dots were filled in using thick felt pens.  Then they put their pen in the centre of one of the dots and drew any kind of curved line from that dot to any edge.  Once they had done that, they draw a circle that touched at least one of their straight lines.  We recapped what we had used at this point and they spotted that we hadn’t yet used an angle line.  They fixed this by adding one in, but again, making it start at one edge and finish on another.

Once these basic were in place I showed them how they could use a range of mark making and pattern to add interest to the different sections of their picture.  I gave them a few ideas and then set them off to do their own thing.  Once they had a few areas with patterns I gave out the coloured markers and they had a lot of fun adding colour to their pictures.   As they worked they chatted about what they could see within the patterns, which was lovely to hear.

At the end of the session we gathered them up and had a look at them together.  It is amazing how different they all are given they all came from the same set of instructions at the start.  A really nice chance for the children to show off their brilliant creativity.


Ages 5 – 11

Project Length 2 x approx 1 hour


This project combines some great experimental mark making with a range of collage techniques.

Firstly, the children taped two pieces of black card together ( an adult will need to help younger children).  For older groups, we showed them how to create a city-scape template on a strip of card by drawing a range of roof-top shapes and cutting it out.  They then positioned the template at the bottom off their paper and drew around it in chalk.  Keeping the template in place, they used a finger to smudge the chalk outwards to create the impression of light coming from behind the buildings.  With younger groups we skipped this step and went straight on to drawing the fireworks.  The children were shown how to create a range of ‘explosive’ effects using chalks and smudging with their fingers.  They were encouraged to experiment with different marks such as straight lines, curved lines, zig-zags, dots etc.


We set up a ‘glitter station’ on a different table (this keeps things much tidier!).  We showed the children how to use pva glue sparingly on the area they wanted glitter.  Then they were told to use a pinch (thumb and forefinger) of glitter at a time and shake it off over the paper plate.  We managed to keep the mess to a minimum by doing this!

At the start of the second session the children were shown how to make pop-up elements for their collage.   Firstly, they cut some exciting fireworks shapes out of holographic card.  Then they wound pipe-cleaners around pencils to create a spring effect.  They attached the shape to the pipe cleaner using selloptape.  Then, using a blunt pencil, they made holes in the black card where they wanted to pop-ups to be.  Younger children will need the holes made for them by an adult.  Then they pushed the springy pip-cleaner through the hole and secured it on the back with sellotape.  We provided them with ribbons and tissue paper so they they could decorate the pop-up shapes and add tails and explosions.

Once finished, and dried, the picture can be folded in half and then opened to reveal the explosive fireworks!





Project Length – 2 x 1 hr

Ages – 5 – 11Collage 2019-10-09 14_45_50

This project is a great way to make good use of old newspaper!

The children began by paining some sheets of newspaper in four different colours (orange, brown, blue and green).  It is a good idea to encourage them to spread the paint thinly as it will dry much faster and make tidying up a lot easier.  It is also nice if the text and pictures can be seen through the paint as it adds to the textural effect.


We put the sheets to one side to dry and started work on the trees.  For younger children, I drew an outline of two trees onto black card using chalk.  Older children were able to do this themselves.  Once the outlines were drawn, they set to work filling in the shapes with small pieces of torn, unpainted, newspaper.  I stressed that these pieces needed to be small and fit inside the tree shape.  For very young children, it might be helpful to rip up some pieces in advance.  The trees were then also left to dry.  This took us to the end of the first session.

At the start of the second session, I showed the children how to divide a piece of white card up into roughly four sections.  I told them that it didn’t matter if the line was wobbly or the sections uneven as I feel that this makes the finished result even nicer.  They then used torn pieces of the coloured paper to fill in each section in a different colour.  Again, I made sure I reminded them that big pieces will not look as effective as smaller ones!  Some children chose to mix up the colours a bit which also looked very autumnal.


Once they had created the background all that was left to do was to cut out the trees from the previous session and stick them in place.  I showed them how to cut out leaving a small black border around the tree as this seemed to make it really stand out from the background.  Younger children might need a bit of help here or maybe have the trees cut out for the start of the session.

This project can be extended for older or more able children by asking them to think about perspective and placing smaller trees in the background (see below).  Or by asking them to search out ‘bark-like’ textures and colours in the newspaper.





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.

IMG-20190604-WA0016 (1)

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.