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Saturday March 14th, 2020

Get tips for visual art in the classroom – Skills not Frills video series – Visual Art #2

Art ensures the kids in your classroom are always engaged, it’s a great way to get their attention and support their wellbeing. 

Using art to teach all aspects of the curriculum allows teachers to fit more of it into their timetable. Thinking skills, Literacy, Oracy, Science, Maths, IT are all suitable for incorporating into the art activities listed below.

Download this blog as a resource sheet.

Visual Art #2: Teach Everything Through Art

Teach History through Art

  1. Look at portraits of historical figures and discuss what they think the people in the pictures were like and how they lived. Compare and contrast between then and now, or of men and women, rich and poor of the same era to develop a sense of perspective and understanding.  How do they think the artist felt about the person in the portrait, and why? What else may have influenced the artist, for example, were they being paid?
  2. Explore historical artefacts in dark and light, by dipping the blinds and using torches to observe and sketch items using pencils or charcoals. An activity like this would combine well with Science experiments of light and shade, and also develop an understanding of how light travels in straight lines. Reflective areas such as white or silver backgrounds will develop their understanding further. 

Teach Geography through Art

  1. Explore landscape paintings: Compare and contrast paintings that depict the countryside and town, discussing how the land is used, who or what animal life is making use of the land and what problems or concerns might arise in that area.  Alternatively compare and contrast the landscapes of Wales with another country, say Africa or Australia. What can we tell about the climate of that country? Discuss the pros and cons of living in a hot climate versus living in a colder climate. 
  2. Landscape Artists such as Andy Goldsworthy use natural materials to create patterns and shapes. Compare these with Aboriginal art, whereby the paintings take you on a journey with symbols to represent the animals and elements such as fire/water. Ask your learners to create symbols that represent a trip they have taken, using only pebbles and sticks (or dots and dashes) to create symbols and patterns that tell the story of the journey.

Teach Religious Education through Art

  1. Explore and re-create tessellating patterns such as those seen in Islamic mosques or in Hindu/Buddhist chakras, as an extension to the study of shape and symmetry in your Mathematics sessions. Take a look at how the use of shading can make your 2D shapes appear 3D. What optical illusions can you make out of 2D shapes? Can you use shapes to make symbols or animal figures that tessellate in the style of MC Escher? 
  2. Religion is about values and making personal choices based on what is important to you. How do artists represent the elements that are most important to them? This enquiry approach can lead into discussion on how the framing, colours or light/shading can draw attention to certain details.  Develop this further with a practical colouring session to create self portraits that highlight the most important elements in the foreground in strong bright colours, and less important elements in lighter colours in the background of a picture.

What next: apps to try 

Bring language and storytelling into your lessons with Chatterpix an app that can make your art come alive and even speak to you!

This is a series of 15 ‘Skills not Frills’ resource sheets, each accompanying a short video.

This is no #2 of 3 visual art resource sheets and accompanying film. 

A2 Connect Arts Champions are teachers who work with us to share their practice and expertise with other schools/teachers in the region.


*Create and discover opportunities for your school and pupils, or your creative business*

Whether you’re a teacher looking for a creative person to share skills and inspiration with your pupils … or a creative person looking for teachers and pupils who can benefit from your input: make sure to CREATE as well as SEARCH for opportunities on Plwg.

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