Making time for subjects outside the core triangle of English, maths and science is not always easy in a busy primary curriculum. But with Sats finished and summer on the way, Children’s Art Week from 13 to 21 June is the perfect time to get creative.
Organised by the National Association for Gallery Education, the programme gives thousands of children the chance to experience the visual arts.
Schools can get involved by taking children to events at local galleries or hosting their own activities. Last year, more than 100 events were held in the UK, including a riverside sketching expedition, a mini art rave and a sculpture workshop inspired by Mondrian.
Primary teacher Sarah Maw took part in last year’s Children's Art Week. Her Year 4 class from Barnfields School in Staffordshire explored the work of Mondrian and local artist Lisa Henderson.
Maw believes it is important for young people to have access to arts activities.
“The arts allow children to express themselves creatively without feeling restricted by being right or wrong,” she says. “They are able to build on key skills such as problem-solving by making decisions about their work and exploring various materials.”
So how can you bring Children’s Art Week to your school? Charlotte Ryan, a primary teacher from Birmingham, shares five easy art projects to try with your class:
1) Make a day of it. An art project can be linked to any school trip. For example, after a visit to a Sea Life centre, Ryan asked children to produce underwater scenes based on the creatures they had seen.
2) Go cross-curricular. Link an art activity to a topic that you are covering in another subject. As part of a science topic on flowers, pupils produced sketches of plants they saw outside. Ryan then helped them to create graphic prints based on the sketches.
3) Think outside the (shoe)box. Art isn’t only about painting and drawing. Ryan's school held a “shoe project” that involved children bringing in an old shoe and transforming it into a work of art using papier mâché, paint and textiles.
4) Use unusual materials. Last term a visiting artist showed pupils at Ryan's school how to paint with the wheels of toy cars. This led to children choosing their own unconventional materials to paint with.
5) Take inspiration from celebrated artists. After Ryan introduced the class to the work of Andy Warhol, pupils created their own pieces of art in the same style.
Schools interested in organising an event as part of Children’s Art Week will be able to register their event online until Monday 1 June. By registering organisers will receive support to run and publicise their events.