A sketch in time

13th January 2006 at 00:00
However well planned you are there are always small "dead" times in class - registration and the end of the day, for example. This year I was keen to use these 10 to 15-minute periods in an imaginative way. Each morning I supplied my Year 6 class with a "Doodle Time!" activity sheet, offering short drawing and sketching activities which appear informal and fun but elicit specific drawing skills or techniques.

Initially I ran the project over a six-week half-term, providing a new task each day. With this concentrated burst of artistic activity, many of the class have become hugely enthusiastic about drawing and sketching, adding to their sketchbooks at home and at lunchtimes. They have also become more confident and competent. "Doodle Time!" is now a regular and valued fixture in my timetable - and has spread to other classes in the school.

Teachers can choose to discuss the tasks but they are designed to be carried out independently. The children keep their doodles in sketchbooks that remain unmarked. The only feedback they have is verbal, when they choose; so that they share and receive praise for successful sketches on their own terms. Each "Doodle Time!" activity needs only a drawing pencil or handwriting pen and a choice of media. I put together small "art kits"

for each table containing coloured pencils, pastels, felt tips, charcoal, watercolours and rubbers.

When I invited the children to draw what they thought anger looked like, the children had to decide whether slow and carefully drawn lines or quickly and aggressively drawn thick lines were more appropriate. Children chose their medium and some decided to work in colour, selecting "angry"

reds and blacks.

On another occasion the "Doodle Time!" task was to draw a bird's eye view of their bedroom. Each sketch had to be annotated - labelling small details like biscuit crumbs on the pillow or smelly socks on top of the wardrobe made these doodles a lot of fun.

Some activity sheets incorporated a "Top Tips" section where advice on improving drawing skills was given along with relevant examples of artwork.

This introduced drawings by established artists, allowing pupils to imitate their methods and techniques of mark-making.

Giles Hughes Art co-ordinator, Colmore Junior School, Kings Heath, Birmingham For a copy of the "Doodle Time!" activity sheets email: ghughes@colmorej.bham. sch.uk

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