Every year, no matter what grade I teach, I get my students to do a Self-Portrait in the first week of school. This gives me the opportunity to lay art expectations and rules down early in the year and they also make a great display for the Parent Teacher nights that are usually the following week.
This particular Self Portrait is quite simple and although I say it is for Early Primary, really, any grade good give it a go. It explores the mixing of primary colours as well as focusing on choosing colours that make pictures more realistic – students are required to observe themselves (in particular their skin tone) and mix colours or choose a colour that best matches their skin tone. A great way to lead into conversations about appreciating one another’s differences.
I highly recommend doing this art activity alongside Mem Fox’s book Whoever You Are.
Here is what you will need: – acrylic/washable paints (acrylic paints give a richer, bolder colour but are not as easy to wash out of clothes) – black, yellow, white, brown (in various shades), skin colour, tan – A3 cartridge paper (this paper is thicker that the A3 paper you put through your printer – using cartridge paper will help avoid the paper tearing in case of over painting) – Edicol dyes (primary colours only) – Spray bottles of some sort – Pegs – Paintbrushes/Foam brushes – Pool noodle cut into pieces
And here is how to create it with your class this year: 1. Allow your students to spray their piece of paper with the spray bottles filled with edicol dyes. Encourage your students to use a variety of the colours provided. What do they observe? What colours are being made as they mix together?
2. After your student’s spray paintings have dried, provide them with a variety of different skin tone paint colours (also include some black and white so students can mix the colours to suit their needs).
3. Ask your students to observe their skin tone and discuss the colours they will need to make their skin tone. Also discuss the impact of adding white and black to the colours provided (white lightens, black darkens). Allow your students to mix the colours until they are happy they have produced a colour similar to their skin tone. Students can then dip the pool noodle piece into their unique paint colour and print two circles one underneath the other to create a head and body.
4. From the body of their pool noodle print, use paint brushes or foam brushes to paint on arms and legs.
5. Allow your students to add hair and facial features to their portrait to complete their self-portrait.
And there you have a pool noodle self-portrait! Easy hey?! Why don’t you try doing a pool noodle family?
I used to loooove celebrating Christmas in my classroom!! And even though I am not in the classroom anymore I am always on the hunt for great Christmas activities to complete with my daughter at home.
What I always found difficult when looking, was finding Christmas activities that had more of an Australian theme. I used to feel a little weird getting my students to colour in, paint or draw, reindeer, woollen mittens and snow themed pictures when they really had no relevance to our Christmas experience here in Australia.
So I thought I would share with you one of my favourite Australian Christmas art activities, inspired by Rolf Harris’ Six White Boomers.
You will need: – A3 Cartridge Paper (this paper is thicker than normal A3 paper and will be more resistant to ripping once the Edicol Dyes are added) – Edicol Dyes (Blue and Orange) – Oil Pastels (Green and Brown) – Acrylic Paints (Red, White, Brown, Yellow/Tan) – Paintbrushes – Sponges – Kangaroo template
How to create your own Australian Xmas Masterpiece:
Using your brown oil pastel firstly lightly draw a rough line 2/3 of the way down your A3 paper. This is your horizon line. Then draw the outline of a tree using the same oil pastel. Add small tufts of grass on the ground using the green oil pastel.
Now you can fill in the ground with orange Edicol dye paint and the sky with the blue Edicol dye paint. Be sure not to paint inside the tree. You can paint over the other oil pastel lines though as the oil will resist the dye and show through.
Paint inside the tree layering the different colours (brown, tan and white) to give the tree a textured look).
Cut out the inside of your kangaroo template. Discard the centre of the kangaroo and place the remaining stencil on top of your Australian landscape painting.
Using your sponge, paint the inside of the stencil white.
Remove your stencil to reveal the white kangaroo.
With a thin paintbrush add a red bow around the neck of the kangaroo.
And you are finished!! Well done!
Be sure to grab your free copy of the kangaroo outline from our Free Resource library so you can complete this artwork in your classroom this Christmas season!
Stuck for ideas on how to commemorate this year’s ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day? Why not try this simple art idea in your classroom. It takes very little time to set up and looks extremely effective when displayed in your classroom.
What you will need:
Pool Noodle (cut into smaller pieces about 10cm thick)
A3 cartridge paper (this paper is thicker than normal A3 paper – if you don’t have any on hand, normal A3 paper will be fine, just be careful about how much paint is used so that the paper doesn’t become too soggy)
How to create:
Dip the pool noodle into the red paint. Dab onto the A3 paper. Covering the paper with as many ‘poppies’ as you would like.
Dip the leaf into the green paint and stencil on the outside of the pool noodle ‘poppies’. Stencil as many leaves as you feel is needed.
Using your thumb or other finger, dip it into the black paint. Press the painted finger into the middle of the pool noodle ‘poppies’.
Connecting different areas of the curriculum with art can be tricky. Particularly geography!
Here is a quick and easy art idea that you can use to support the Australian Geography Curriculum in your classroom. It is particularly great for grades 3-4. Printables for this art activity can be found here.
What you will need:
Neon paints (or any washable/acrylic paint of your choice)
A3 cartridge paper
Map of Australia printables
Watercolour paints/Edicol Dyes
How to create your very own Australia Map work of art:
Using the paintbrushes, paint over the A3 piece of paper in a single colour using the watercolour paints or Edicol Dyes. Set aside to dry.
While these are drying, place a variety of different coloured acrylic or washable paints out for students to paint their maps of Australia. Encourage students to colour each state a different colour. Set aside to dry.
Once dried, students can cut out their map of Australia (don’t be too pedantic about whether they cut on the lines or not – it just won’t happen! ;p) and the Australia title.
Glue the map of Australia and the title onto the dried A3 watercolour page. Students can then use the States and Territories of Australia labels to locate the Capital Cities and States and Territories of Australia on their painted map.
National Reconciliation Week is a great opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history. There are some great details about the purpose of this week, as well as ways of participating, on the National Reconciliation Week website.
Dreamtime stories have long been a favourite of my students. Not only do they capture the imaginations of the students, drawing their attention, but they also help reflect the culture and history of the original owners of this great land.
One of my personal favourites is the story of Tiddalick the Frog. In honour of National Reconciliation Week, I am sharing with you one of my favourite art pieces that my students enjoy year after year.
Templates for this artwork can be found in my Free Resource Library. Don’t have the password yet for the Library? Head to my Instagram account, check out my Story Highlights and inside the one titled FREE, you will find the password. Feel free to follow my Instagram account while you are there.
So here are the instructions on creating your own Tiddalick master piece.
You will need:
Oil pastels or crayons (I personally prefer oil pastels as the colours are more vibrant
Note: Before I begin this art work I read to my students the story of Tiddalick the Frog. If you don’t have a picture book for the story here is a link to a video or a printable PDF with a simple story on it.
I also like my students to have completed their recount before beginning the art work as well.
Colour in your frogs. There are many ways you can go about doing this. Either colour them fully in crayon or oil pastel. Or partially colour them with oil pastel or crayon and then paint with water colours over the top (as I did for the spotty frog).
Cut out your frog. (Allow the water colour paint to dry if you painted them)
Putting your frogs aside, take your A3 paper. Students will now do rubbings on their A3 paper. This really can be of anything you like. I chose leaves, with the aim for students to paint them blue with watercolours, giving the illusion of a pond. For the other one we simply rubbed lines along the paper while resting the paper on concrete. This gave the lines a rough texture. This was then painted over in brown water colours to give the illusion of dirt or mud.
After rubbings are completed, students can was over the top with your chosen water colour paint.
Once the paint has dried, students can now glue their frog and recount onto the A3 paper.
Pretty simple hey?! You are welcome!
If you are looking for other activities to support Reconciliation Week, check out these resources:
Hi. My name is Melissa Bagnall. I am a trained primary school teacher but currently playing stay-at-home mum to an almost-three-year-old.
If you are anything like me, teaching visual arts properly in your classroom can seem like a daunting task. I am not a trained artist (although I do enjoy being creative now and then), and I did do a subject at uni that attempted to teach me the skills I would soon need to pass onto my students but for some reason when I entered my primary teaching profession I felt very out of my depth when it came to teaching visual arts. I ended up not enjoy teaching the subject either because it usually ended up in a lot of extra work for me after hours due to the clean-up involved. Essentially as much as I could, I avoided the subject. I taught it because I knew my students loved it and the school required it but I didn’t love it.
10 years in and boy, my opinions have changed regarding this subject. I am now the biggest advocate for teaching the visual arts in the classroom to the point where every subject I teach, I am looking for a way to allow my students to explore a new technique or even just have some free expression time to practise skills I have taught them throughout the year.
Now, as I said, I am in no way a trained artist and nor did I study art beyond year 10 at high school so I don’t claim to be an expert in this field by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know that I have gained such a greater understanding of visual arts as a subject and teaching area that I really want to share this understanding with others who may be feeling out of their depth or are just looking for inspiration so that they can make the teaching of visual arts easier for themselves.
I truly believe that teaching visual arts alongside other teaching areas in the Australian curriculum not only helps you as a teacher cover more curriculum at once, but it helps our students make connections and increases engagement as well. A lot of the art ideas I will share with you will be linked to the Australian curriculum but also linked to other curriculum areas.
I hope you enjoy following me on this journey.
So, let’s start with the basics:
What art supplies do I need in my classroom?
There are some basic materials you will need in your classroom at the beginning of every year. This will make art seem less daunting but also easier to access. If you have the right supplies on hand, you are more likely to incorporate art into your curriculum more often.
Acrylic or washable paints (at least make sure you have red, blue, yellow, white and black – your can get away without all the other colours because you can make them all with these colours)
Edicol dyes (vegetable dyes)
Cartridge paper – A3&A4 size (this is a must if you are using the edicol dyes or water colour paints. Normal paper is just not strong enough to cope with the amount of water the children will use.)
Paintbrushes (various sizes – at least a thick, medium and thin brush for different techniques)
Tissue paper (you want to make sure you get the tissue paper that bleeds)
Something to cover your surface (I recommend using small sheets of ply – they are a solid surface and it doesn’t matter if paint gets on them as they just soak up the mess. Alternatively you could use disposable plastic tablecloths from the dollar store but these eventually rip over time and, particularly with watercolour paints, I find them to be a lot messier clean up wise because the water pools on the top of the tablecloth)
Icecream buckets (for dirty paintbrushes)
Art drying rack (There are many options on the market but I like this one)
Black A4 paper
Art smocks (if students don’t provide their own)
Textas (If your students don’t have any of their own)
I hope this checklist is helpful to you. If you would like a printable version of this checklist, please head to my free resource library to pick up your free copy!