A Year of Art Lessons with Year 3 – Introduction

By Jan Miller

This resource is part of a collection called Teaching Art to Year Three.

Following my AccessArt Award of ‘Talented Art Teacher Winner’, and with the AccessArt team kindly announcing that I impressed them with the ‘sheer energy and range of work with the children’, I have been invited to present a series of projects. The projects share a range of ideas I have used in art lessons over one year, with a particular year group, in this case Year 3.

Exploring colour through mixing and layering materials and working on different surfaces including plastic and black card.

This post is intended to inspire and give food for thought rather than as blueprint for projects, as I recognise that we are all working in very different environments, with restrictions of materials, time and space. Some are lucky enough to have more freedom than others but the pressure of levels, targets and SATs within the core curriculum has seen a squeeze on creative subjects. It is so important to ensure children experience regular opportunities to practice the main skills associated with artists, makers and designers. I remind the children that everything that surrounds us needs designing – The UK’s creative industries contribute £92bn to the economy; that’s £10million per hour!

Observation drawing capturing the shape, form and material, using HB, 2B, 4B pencils.

The projects will be a snap-shot of the work produced over one year by my mixed-ability class, aged 7-8, teaching them weekly for an hour. They are currently working on a Japanese theme which relates their art projects to their class topic. Other considerations, when planning, ensure the children have opportunities to work on a variety of scales, formats and surfaces using a range of materials and techniques.

Working on a larger scale

My aim is to develop children’s confidence in their knowledge and understanding of processes and be informed by contemporary and International art (although we do reference historical work and the big heavy-weights of the art world).  I celebrate all children’s work together on display and encourage my older GCSE students to work alongside classes of younger children. More often it’s the younger ones providing the positive attitude and inspiration with their willingness to explore any new challenges presented. Techniques are demonstrated but I encourage children to vary and add their own twist, personality and interest. Feedback is verbal to individual pupils and I avoid giving them numerical marking, focusing instead on encouraging the positive and improving aspects.

I hope to inform AccessArt readers by showing PROCESS, sketchbook drawings, through to PRODUCT, final pieces, that are developed over several lessons. The images will illustrate the different outcomes reached by the children, celebrating the interest and variety of individual responses.


I currently teach Art, and also Design & Technology, to children aged 7 to 16 at Moreton Hall School, Oswestry, Shropshire. I have over twenty years’ experience teaching Art to children from age 3-18 and have (honestly) never repeated a single project during that time. Inspiration for my projects comes from art exhibitions, museums, art books and having a camera permanently around neck. My degree in Illustration drives my interest in ensuring drawing features centrally in all projects, at the beginning as well as throughout and in all media. I particularly enjoy developing print and mixed media pieces with my classes as it gives children the opportunity to have an individual response. I facilitate AG&T children running their own lunchtime club and I also manage an after school club.

I am the Editor of an Art broadsheet published for Independent schools and hold themed art workshops for large groups, inviting several local schools to attend. These are well subscribed to as the children go home with finished large work and it is a good opportunity for teachers to liaise and discuss projects and products. I manage to secure sponsorship for all the art materials from our local educational supplier. I hope to share one of these projects over the next few months.

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Jan Miller: How I Teach Art