Ideas for drawing on

6th February 2004 at 00:00
The Art Ideas Pack By F Watt. Usborne, pound;9.99. Drawing and Painting: Children and Visual Representation By John Matthews.

Paul Chapman, pound;18.99.

Drawing Faces Usborne Art Ideas series, pound;9.99pound;6.99 paperback. An Eye for Display. By Patricia Harrison. Folens, pound;13.95.

My First Jumbo Book of Colours By James Diaz and Melanie Gerth. Gullane Children's Books, pound;9.99.

The Art Ideas Pack consists of a substantial and glossy card cover containing colourful spiral-bound activity pages and a neatly presented set of all the basic materials needed to complete the tasks, including wax crayons, oil pastels, watercolour blocks and a brush.

Tried-and-tested techniques such as wax-resist, using crayon with a wash of paint, together with slightly more unusual tasks such as blow painting, are presented as simple step-by-step instructions that are easy for children to follow independently, guaranteeing the satisfaction of good results. This could prove a boon to busy parents whose children like to be constantly creating and "doing".

With its bold colourful illustrations, tempting materials and fun projects this would make an inspiring, fun-filled present for most seven to 11-year-olds. The ideas suggested have plenty of potential for development by older children, although the materials supplied are a little lacking in sophistication for those nearer the top of the age range.

The newly revised edition of Drawing and Painting: Children and Visual Representation reflects recent developments in early childhood (age up to eight) education, in developmental psychology and in our understanding of children's development in the arts. John Matthews shows how the new model of children's development in visual representation has important implications for education. He examines children's development in visual expression and suggests how this might be supported.

While there are any number of books on the work of artists, designers and craftsmen, and a wealth of "How to" activity-based publications, accessible books on art and design education are harder to find. This readable book is not reliant on prior specialist knowledge of psychological theory, art, its history or interpretation. It would be of great value to anyone working with young children who or wishes to understand how children develop creatively.

The author focuses on children's spontaneous drawing while still arguing for the need for adult interaction and subtle support. Much of the photographic evidence presented is derived from the author's extensive studies of his own three children from birth to teenage years. A thought-provoking and informative book, this is essential reading for anyone involved in the education of young children.

Drawing Faces, an innovative book that is suitable for use across key stages 24, covers a wide variety of media, including pens, pastels, ink, paint and the computer. It is internet-linked, making it invaluable for any art teacher attempting to incorporate ICT skills into their schemes of work. As with the other books in this series - eg Drawing Cartoons and Drawing Animals - it recommends websites to link with the activities. For example, suggestions such as distorting faces by creating a grid and drawing from reflections in a shiny surface are supplemented by linking with a named website to distort photographic images.

There are also simple clear pages outlining basic instructions for drawing on a computer. Techniques to try include pastel scratch, paper sculpting, tracing caricatures, creating cartoons and drawing portraits, both with pencil and on the computer. The colourful, inviting illustrations and clear format make this book easy to dip into and suitable for both the general classroom teacher and the specialist.

Now more than ever there is an emphasis on the importance of presentation and display around our schools, both to create a welcoming environment and to help children to value their own and other's work. Seeing their work displayed instills a sense of pride in all they produce and can be a real confidence booster. So any book about display is always greeted warmly, especially when it is a new addition to the familiar Belair series of helpful and reliable books. An Eye for Display provides a variety of examples and workable techniques for creating eye-catching displays across the curriculum. Many popular themes are covered in interesting and imaginative ways.

The chapters cover topics such as "ceiling displays'", "bursting out of the borders", "using large spaces" and "making an entrance". Each page is packed with clear colourful photos showing finished displays. Included are lists outlining the approach taken as well as "you will need" boxes. There are plenty of ideas here for any teacher to use, but An Eye for Display will probably be most valuable for primary teachers who require inspiration for ways to display their pupils' creative writing or an imaginative presentation of two or three-dimensional art work.

My First Jumbo Book of Colours is an eye-catching interactive novelty book aimed at exploring colour theory with two to five-year-olds. Its glossy, colourful cover features a die-cut, holographic-foil sun shape that is just begging to be touched. Inside, each of the first three of the durable, double-page spreads concentrates on one of the primary colours, illustrated by familiar everyday items. The book is packed with moveable parts, lift-the-flaps and touch-and-feel textures. Further spreads introduce the concept of secondary colours, with colour wheels that can be spun to discover the consequences of mixing different primary colours.

The final spread consists of a giant pop-up teddy bear, with invitations to lift-the-flaps to find something purple, something white and so on. This is the sort of bright, fun yet informative book which parents and children will enjoy sharing and will return to time and again. My First Jumbo Book of Colours will help to instill an awareness and knowledge of colour, and will be of value in the early years classroom.

Chrissie Thomas is head of art at Keble Preparatory School in north London

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