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The Big Picture;Ted's teaching tips

Bleak winter landscapes were made fascinating by Dutch masters and this painting can inspire a variety of work in the arts.

Painting a landscape: Some teachers do not like the "painting in the style of . . ." type of exercise, but many children enjoy creating a "busy" picture with lots of figures and activities.

Look at paintings by Lowry, Dutch masters such as Pieter Breughel, who created some magnificent people pictures, including winter scenes; and Aert van der Neer, a brilliant painter of scenes in poor light. How do artists capture the effects of winter on people, especially while having to work in the freezing cold? How can you manage to paint the gloom, the coldness, or the sort of feelings people have in the depth of winter?

Historygeography: How does life in an early 17th-century Dutch town compare with a late 20th-century British city?

Think about transport, roads, lighting, buildings, dress.

What is similar (trees, birds, church, rowing boat), and what is different (no cars, buses, lorries, pavements, electric lights, tall buildings, street signs, advertisements, or large windows; children and adults all wearing hats)?

A winter story: Write an eerie mystery story, set in deepest winter, beginning: "Brrrr! I pulled my scarf over my mouth. It was the coldest day I could ever remember. Little did I realise, when I set off, what . . ."

Ted Wragg is professor of education at the University of Exeter

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