Art lessons for Foundation to Year 6 – Victorian Curriculum aligned
I am a primary school Art teacher in Melbourne, Australia. I have been teaching Art for 13 years and I love finding out about artists and their artworks to inspire students. I am sharing my lesson and unit plans and student artwork examples with other art teachers. I also have an instagram account: @primary_school_art
Much of Spanish artist, Joan Miro’s later work is wonderful inspiration for young children because of it’s child and dream like simplicity and abstract nature. Many of his works at this time were quite surreal and imaginative that used shapes, symbols and a limited colour palette. He often used primary colours too.
We looked at the artwork “Sun Eater” or sometimes called “Imaginary Boy” by Joan Miro made in the 1950s discussing shapes, lines and colours. They found the tiny bit of yellow in the eye and we reviewed the primary colours.
Students began by drawing the basic shapes on their paper in pencil first to make sure they had the size right. They then used paint sticks in any chosen primary colour to colour the circle on the body, followed by the surrounding square, then the stripe across the eye, making sure they used the three primary colours. Because paint sticks dry so quickly, they were able to then go over their pencil lines on the head, eyes, nose and mouth before using straight vertical and horizontal lines across and down the square body.
Lesson Plan for Prep/ Foundation aligned to Victorian Curriculum with lesson steps and success criteria statements.
Koru is a spiral shape representing the unfurling fern and is an integral symbol in Maori art from New Zealand. It symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace. This project was one of a few lessons I did with Year 1-2 students on art from different cultures. I had done it may years ago successfully with a Prep class and wanted the Year 1-2 students to add a little more detail. We looked at the Koru art of Raewyn Harris from New Zealand as well as various drawings and tattoos with the koru shape.
It’s a good idea to get the students to practise drawing a spiral shape BIG so they can return the line out of the centre. We used black ink daubers to get the thick black lines. Next step was painting!
Victorian Curriculum Lesson plan for Year 1/2 with learning intentions success criteria, lesson activity steps, useful video and website links, example work.
Students in Year 1/2 were learning about Aboriginal traditions and their use of leaves as medicine from ‘nature’s pharmacy’. We watched a YouTube video explaining various leaves from the bush and their use to treat different ailments. The lesson project is from Japingka Aboriginal Art website which has some wonderful art lesson plans. Check it out!
The lesson looks at the Bush Medicine art of Rosemary Petyarre, and we also looked at an artwork I own, also titled Bush Medicine Leaves by Rosemary Pitjara. We compared the artworks and discussed the movement in each.
We used liquid watercolours to paint a piece of paper in stripes or bands blending the edges, and also a spray of water to further add interest.
The black background paper has texture added with paint sponged, scraped and dabbed to create a sense of the bush or forest floor.
Students traced a gum leaf onto card, cut it out and used as a template to trace as many shapes as they could on the back of their watercolour paper. They then arranged these onto the background paper in a way that shows ‘movement’.
Students then used Zart white Perma Pens as a quicker method of dotting around the leaf shapes to highlight them.
Two books by Todd Parr: “It’s OK to be Different” and “Be Who You Are” (Todd Parr website) are fabulous to explore the theme of diversity with young children. The illustrations are simple and bright, and lend themselves to this activity where Prep students choose different coloured faces, hair style and accessory to make a unique portrait, and perfect to practise cutting skills!
Prep/ Foundation Victorian Curriculum lesson plan with templates, learning intentions, success criteria, example artworks.
Preps have been learning about ‘diversity’ and that differences should not only be respected but celebrated! We shared the book “The Mixed Up Chameleon” by Eric Carle where the chameleon wanted to be like other animals but after becoming like each one and getting mixed up, decided it was actually great being himself after all. We discussed a chameleon’s special talent of changing colours to camouflage itself.
Students followed a directed drawing of a chameleon on a piece of A4 paper, and made a ‘foil print’ with markers on the reverse: Colour with markers on aluminium foil, fine spray of water, take a print! Preps made a branch from twisted tissue paper and stuck leaves on a background paper then cut out their chameleon and glued onto the branch.
Foundation (Prep) Lesson plan learning intentions, success criteria, drawing guide for a chameleon, lesson activity steps, artwork examples.
While exploring the theme of the brain in Art lessons, I saw an activity to make a ‘brain hat’ by printing, cutting & folding a template, but wanted something more ‘arty’ so using the right side of my brain- (known as the creative artistic side!) I came up with the idea to make a paper mache hat with the two sides- the creative side using any chosen design and art materials, and the logical/reasoning side represented by cogs and other bits like a steampunk ‘machine’.
The students blew up a balloon to about the size of their head and began to do alternate layers of newspaper and plain ‘newsprint’ paper to the top half of the balloon. We used ‘Cellogel’ which is like a wallpaper paste. I actually mixed in a bit of PVA with it for extra strength. Another recipe some use is flour and water. They did minimum four layers. This took us two lessons.
We had already discussed the two sides of the brain, so once the paper mache ‘hat’ was dry, students drew a line down the middle to divide into left and right brain. They proceeded to paint and add embellishments to each side. For the logical / reasoning side we used supplies from Zart Art: Wooden Gears and Cogs and Buckles and Bits, along with ribbed cardboard, mesh, and industrial look adhesive foil for some great textures that are highlighted with the copper coloured Rub ‘n Buff.
The creative side was all about colour, pattern and embellishments including pom poms, patty pans, sequins, buttons and any ‘bits’ they wanted to use.
Lesson Plan with learning intentions, success criteria, activity discussion and steps, materials & resources, student examples.
During our “Brain” themed art lessons, we looked at the art of David Shillinglaw from the UK. He is known for his drawings, paintings and sculpture that responds to planet Earth, the cosmos, nature, landscape, & humans in the universe. He had an exhibition in Spain in March 2022 entitled COSMOS which included a number of paintings and clay sculptures of human heads presented as a “vessel full of dreams, a flesh machine in constant flux” and a “cosmic container, filled with fears, fantasies, facts and fictions. Enjoy your head space, it’s where you live”.
We discussed his Pot Heads (I called them Clay Heads!) and his Humanoid artworks, describing them and suggesting meanings that might be expressed by them, especially in relation to our brain and it’s various parts and functions.
To make the head, we used air dry clay, as sadly I do not have a kiln. The students broke their piece of clay into half and used one piece to form a “tall” thumb pot, drawing the sides up rather than out. The other half was used to make the top of the head (brain!) and the neck. The top of the head was formed into a shallow pot until it fitted the bottom part of the head. Students used the scratch and slip method to join the neck to the head, then smoothed the clay together for a seamless join. They needed to make sure it sat steadily and was balanced with the “brain hat” on top.
Students used acrylic tempera paint to paint their heads. Once dry they used paint pens to add details.
Year 3/4 have been learning about different biomes in their classroom, and in art lessons we have been making artworks about various biomes too. These artworks are focusing on aquatic biomes, specifically coral reefs. For inspiration we looked at the illustrations in the book, ‘Hidden in the Sea’ by Peggy Nille, and the art of Melanie Hava, (@artofmelaniehava) an Indigenous artist from Queensland, near the Great Barrier Reef. We also did an artwork comparison with one of Ken Done’s reef paintings.
Painting the sea was also a lesson about tints by mixing white with blue from light to dark. We used Melanie Hava’s ‘A Reef Wonderland‘ as the inspiration for the sea with a light source from a circle. Students started with a white circle high on the paper, then gradually added more blue in concentric circles until the filled to the edges of the paper and top of reef outline drawn at the bottom.
After looking closely at Melanie Hava and Peggy Nille’s illustrations students add patterns of lines and shapes to the reef. They then draw 3-4 sea creatures in size proportion to each other on a smaller piece of paper (A4). These are coloured in with paint sticks or markers and patterns and details added with paint pens (like Posca)
Next step was colouring the sections of the coral reef with warm colours- we used Zart paint sticks/slicks, as they give the painterly effect, but dry quickly. Paint pens (like Posca) are used to add texture, patterns and plants.
Final step is for students to cut out their sea creatures, arrange and paste them onto the background.
Year 3/4 Victorian Curriculum aligned lesson plan: Learning Intentions, success criteria, links to artist’s work, learning activities, Venn diagram for a comparing two artworks, reference sheet with organic patterns for reef and plants, student self evaluation rubric, student artwork examples.
Year 3/4 project looking at Australian animal habitats and biome of temperate forests where koalas, possums, sugar gliders, quolls etc. live. Students viewed and discussed artworks by a local wildlife artist and then chose an animal (I had plenty of print out image photos to choose from – mostly koalas) and sketching it large on their paper. They then used dye wash for the negative space, before mixing colours to paint the tree and animal using brush strokes to help create texture.
Foam leaf shapes were embossed with lines and then printed around the animal. Extra texture was added with chalk pastels, like on the animal’s fur and especially a koala’s ears!
Lesson plan linked to Yr 3-4 Victorian Curriculum, learning intentions, success criteria, artist artwork (with link for website) for discussion, lesson activities and materials, evaluation rubric.
This lesson is part of a series of lessons around the theme of ‘BIOMES’- (geographical area consisting of a biological community formed in response to the regional climate), this one being a GRASSLAND BIOME. There are many examples of African animal / savanna sunset silhouettes in stock photos and art, and was perfect for Year 3/4 skill set- drawing from observation, fine cutting, and arranging on a warm sunset background.
First we watched a video: The African Savannah – Virtual Field Trip and discussed this grassland biome, listing animals that live there. They viewed some examples of sunset silhouettes with African animals and students used pictures on Google of African animal silhouettes to draw just the shape outline of 2-3 animals and an acacia tree- all in proportion to each other- onto black cover paper (125gsm). The background was made with warm coloured food dye wash on A3 paper.
In the second lesson, the students fringed the edges of a long strip of black paper, then snipped pieces out at an angle to glue along the bottom of the sunset background for the grass. Next they carefully cut out their animals and tree, arranging before gluing down.