Fabulous fossils

Develop Y3 pupils’ printing skills while learning about rocks and fossils in your science topic.

Use biros to carefully score ammonite images into a polystyrene sheet. This creates a block to print from. Encourage pupils to imagine what the print will look like once it’s printed.

Next, experiment with coloured inks to create repeated printed images.

Test the prints in sketchbooks first and ask pupils to add annotations about their thoughts, feelings and learning journey.

How can we make the print darker or lighter? How much ink is needed? Which colour do children prefer?

If children want to improve their print block at this stage, give them a new piece of polystyrene.

Alternatively, move straight on to experimental work and explore printing onto paper and fabric, discussing any similarities and differences you encounter.

Make sure to document all your discoveries and thoughts in sketchbooks.

Finally, create backgrounds by tearing coloured sugar paper and sticking the small pieces onto a larger sheet of paper. Use your blocks to repeat a fossil print over the top.

Inspirational posters

Work together to produce inspirational portraits of significant people. This fits in nicely with events such as Black History Month.

Before beginning, discuss each person and their achievements and share some famous quotes from them.

Next, gather images and transfer them onto a piece of strong A3 cartridge paper by rubbing the back of the photocopy with a layer of graphite or oil pastel.

Fix the picture onto the paper using a small piece of masking tape then trace over the image with a biro. This will transfer the graphite or pastel onto the paper.

Enhance the transferred images with black felt pens and add inspirational quotes.

Using PVA glue and a range of materials, add a collaged background. This creates a textured look which makes the paintings more interesting.

This is a good opportunity for children to increase their knowledge of preparing canvas backgrounds.

Use acrylic paint to add vibrant colours to the images, making sure that the portraits and quotes don’t get lost.

Try watercolour paints to build up colour on the faces, then use marker pens such as POSCA to outline parts of the work.

These pictures make an inspiring display when placed together and will help children to be more aware of a range of inspirational people.

Inspirational posters

This project ties in well to English units featuring mythical creatures.

Begin by drawing a range of eyes in your sketchbooks, exploring different drawing media and textures. For example, children can experiment with using bubble wrap or textured wallpaper to print with.

At the same time, discuss previous art learning such as tonal values and painting and printing techniques, giving children time to record, review and revisit ideas.

Explore the shapes found in different eyes and discuss how these could be created using clay, recording your annotations in sketchbooks to support the learning journey.

After this initial exploration, children will be ready to create their clay eye.

They should be confident of the shapes they would like to create and the textures they want to add to replicate scales and other features.

Use batons, a rolling pin and clay boards to create a slab of clay that is 1cm thick. Cut this to shape using a clay cutter.

Children can now either use a template or score their shape directly into the clay. Use a variety of tools to create texture in the clay to give the appearance of dragon scales.

Join different pieces of clay together with slip. This ensures pieces are less likely to fall off while being fired in the kiln.

If you don’t have access to a kiln, leave your dragon eyes to air dry then add a layer of varnish or PVA glue.

Alternatively, use salt dough or modelling clay then oven bake, or try playdough or plasticine.

After you’ve fired your dragon eyes, use acrylic paint to add colour. Add a PVA glue glaze over the top to add extra shine if you wish.

Finally, add a glass eye using a glue gun. Don’t forget to document the whole process in sketchbooks using annotations and sketches.

Galaxy travellers

If you’re doing space in science, this project links in perfectly.

Begin by looking at a range of images of the universe. Discuss how you might recreate these using pupils’ art skills and knowledge.

Experiment with using a scrunched up paper towel to add bursts of poster paint to black card. This will create a textured, mottled effect.

Be careful not to add too much paint, as you still want the black to be visible.

Some children may want a very busy background full of stars and constellations, while others might aim for a more muted effect.

Next, look at a range of drawings and photographs of astronauts wearing spacesuits. Draw different versions of astronauts on white paper using black felt pen.

This can either be a close-up, with lots of detail on the suit, or a smaller astronaut to place in the background – children should be encouraged to create a composition of their choice.

Cut out the visor of the spacesuit so that the background is visible through the drawing. This gives the illusion of a reflection in the helmet of the suit.

Encourage children to discuss their ideas and reasoning while creating their work.

Super sugar skulls

This idea works well if you’re studying the ancient civilisations of South America in history.

Encourage children to use their sketchbooks to research the vibrant imagery connected to Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday.

Explore different art media, artists and the culture of the festival, documenting your findings via annotations in sketchbooks.

Next, pupils can practise their sewing skills by creating a ‘sugar skull’ using felt. Use a template to cut out the shape of the skull, then embellish it with felt, embroidery thread and buttons.

This will give pupils the chance to try running, back and blanket stitch.

After constructing your sewn sugar skulls, create a report that evaluates the making process. Consider materials and equipment used, the making process, knowledge learnt and skills practised.

Mandy Barrett is a specialist art teacher at Gomersal Primary in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. Find her on Twitter at @gomersalart and visit her website here.