AccessArt Olympics: Sculptural Sneakers

Explore the project below to help pupils consider how they might design trainers based on either Olympic Athletics.

Trainer Design

Aim: To introduce pupils to shoe design with a focus on athletics and trainers. Pupils will get the opportunity to explore innovation and design through drawing and making.

Step 1: Introduce in Sketchbooks

Begin by introducing pupils to trainer design with the “Talking Points: Trainer Design” resource. Show them a series of videos which aim to prompt discussion around innovation, design and environmental implications of shoe design. Invite pupils to create “Visual Notes” in their sketchbooks inspired by what they see.

Step 2: Drawing and Sketchbooks

Place a trainer on each table. Invite pupils to create their own “Folded Sketchbook” and set them drawing challenges by adpating the “Using a Folded Sketchbook to Get Drawing” using the shoe as the subject matter. For each different drawing exercise swap the shoes around.

Next, invite pupils to make annotations and adjustments to their drawings based on any invented shoe technology they would like to add to their trainers.


Step 3: Making

Use air-dry clay to create trainers using the “Shoe La-La” resource. Bring in trainers as inspiration for the clay shoes. Use some of the techniques from the last step to build up the shoes.



You may like to try creating “Sculptural Modroc Shoes” instead. Ask children to bring in old trainers, or pick up some from charity shops to use at the base for new trainer designs. Make additional features by creating small armatures and incorporating them into the shoe design.


Step 4: Reflect

Use the resource here to help you run a class “crit” to finish the project. 

Invite children to display the work in a clear space on tables or on the wall. Recap with them about the exploration – where they started, what they discovered and what they enjoyed. 

If you have class cameras or tablets, invite the children to document their work, working in pairs or teams.



Trainers as subject matter


A2 Paper

Drawing materials

For Shoe La-La:

Air-drying clay

Rolling pins

Burlap/hessian mat

Wooden battens

Tools for clay

Clay Slip (mix a lump of clay with water to create a creamy consistency and store in a jar with a sealed lid)

Acrylic Paint

PV Glue

For Sculptural Modroc Shoes:


An old trainer

Acrylic Paint

Extra materials such as lollysticks or newspaper to make armatures

PVA glue


You could look into shoe design for sports that don’t require trainers, for example dancing shoes or winter sports shoes.

Explore Other Resources in Athletics:

Explore other olympic themes