Pictures with purpose

9th December 2005 at 00:00
MY PICTURE ART CLASS. MY PUPPET ART CLASS. By Nellie Shepherd. Dorling Kindersley. pound;6.99 each

LOOK AND MAKE series WITH PAPER PRESENTS. Franklin Watts. pound;5.99 each

AZTEC: CRAFT TOPICS. Franklin Watts. pound;5.99

MASTERPIECES: ARTISTS AND THEIR WORKS SERIES. Franklin Watts. pound;10.99 each

Advertised as "creative fun for little hands", Nellie Shepherd's My Picture Art Class and My Puppet Art Class live up to their claim.

Suitable for key stage 1 teachers, or parents playing at home with their young children, these books provide engaging and easily accessible activities that include turning some non-descript paper plates into Chi Chi the Dragon. Glitter, felt and kitchen foil are turned into funky fish.

The colourful pages (example, right) are matched with easy-to-follow instructions, and lots of interesting facts, for instance what a star is made of, are thrown in as well.

The models, such as Bella the Butterfly and Elsie the Elephant, along with pictures of Sparkly Space and City Stickers, are easy for children to recreate and great for a busy adult working with young children because they don't require a huge amount of resources.

Look and Make with Paper and Look and Make Presents are full of stimulating art activities for children from early years to upper key stage 2. A helpful list at the beginning of each book assembles all the resources before you start the activity. Some are simple, such as making your own penguin (pictured left), or a jigsaw out of PVA, carding your own painting or a picture from a magazine.

Even the more intricate activities, for instance Puppy Puppet, only use resources you could find at school, such as paper fasteners and card.

Children in upper primary ought to be able to read and follow the instructions without the aid of an adult and without too much trouble.

Stage-by-stage pictures help clarify the instructions.

Aztec: Craft Topics is mainly a textbook charting the rise and fall of what was once a great nation, but this book for upper KS2 also includes activities to stimulate the imagination. Helpful illustrations extend the information to less able readers. Projects include making an Aztec helmet and making a mosaic picture.

Alongside these activities are pictures of the originals and information on what their importance was to the Aztecs. There is a small "Did you Know..."

section at the back, along with a glossary, which includes useful websites such as the British Museum's.

For the history of Western art, Masterpieces: Artists and Their Works, a series including Rembrandt and Matisse, offers a concise and accessible look at the lives of some of the world's most famous artists.

Although the text itself is more suited to upper primary, younger pupils could also enjoy these books, for example by thinking about and discussing the use of colour in the work of these artists.

Reproduction is of a very high quality, notably in Rembrandt's "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholaes Tulp", though this may well have pushed up the price.

Veronica Poku is a lecturer at Kingston University

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