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Junk bonds

Junk modelling has had a bad name since the days when infant classes were littered with old toilet rolls and cereal packets. However, you can still make the most of resources from children's own homes.

If children can bring in eggshells (washed, of course), you can crush them and use them in an exploration of the textures of paint. Glue, sand and plants can all be integrated into paint surfaces, just as artists from the fresco painters of the Renaissance to the contemporary prize-winning artist Chris Ofili have applied extraneous matter to their paint.

Although it is probably not a good idea in the infant classroom to use elephant dung, as Ofili does, pupils can explore materials that can bond with paint. Coffee grounds? Orange pips? What qualities do the successful materials share? There is science in this aspect of art.

Materials will bond differently with crayon, gouache, watercolour and poster colour. Which you use depends on your budget. Ask the children to discover which of them can be painted on stiff drawing paper that may then be cut into small pieces to make mosaics. Taking a object, say, the sun, and analysing it as blocks of colour, pupils at Hazelwood Infants School, Enfield have made mosaics on panels in a fence in the school grounds.

If you are not going to make mosaics, how are the paintings to be mounted and framed? Pupils' home store cupboards can play their part once more. Scraps of fabric, sheets of cardboard, ribbons, computer paper, newspaper: the impact of a painting depends on its backing to a surprising extent. Children can still make dazzling work from the most mundane resources.

Peter Gordon is headteacher at Hazelwood Infants School, Enfield

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