Pathway: Explore & Draw

Pathway for Years 1 & 2

Drawing, Sketchbooks, Collage

Key Concepts:

  • That artists explore the world, seeing things around them in new ways, and bring things back to their studios to help them make art.

  • That we can go into our own environments, even when they are very familiar to us, and learn to see with fresh eyes and curiosity.

  • That we can use the things we find to draw from, using close observational looking.

  • That we can explore and use art materials, be inventive with how we use them, taking creative risks and enjoying accidents as well as planned successes. 

  • We can use the shape of the page, and the way we arrange elements on the page, to create compositions which we like. 

In this pathway children are introduced to the idea that artists can be collectors: they go out into the world, look at things in new ways, and bring things back to the studio to inspire their art.

Children explore observational drawing and experimental mark making, and think about how they can use composition to create their artwork. 

The exercises and projects in this pathway encourage children to begin to develop hand-eye coordination through slow and paced looking. This is balanced by encouraging children to nurture a playful exploration of media, a curiosity towards the world around them, and to begin to take creative risks/trust instinct. 

Natural Forms, Seasonal Changes, Patterns, Symmetry

Graphite, Handwriting Pen, Watercolour / Brusho, Wax Resist


Rosie James, Alice Fox

This pathway will take approximately half a term, based upon a weekly art lesson. 

If you use this resource in your setting, please tag us on social media: #InspiredBy @accessart (facebook, twitter) (instagram) and share the url. Thank you!

Wax resist leaves by pupils at Dent School, facilitated by Rosie James
Leaf created with wax crayons and Brush ink with Rosie James
Drawing 1:1 ratio
ages 5-8

Teaching Notes

Curriculum Links

Geography: Adapt to explore habitats. 

Maths: Use language to develop understanding of patterns, sequence, symmetry, pictorial representation, repetition. 

Science: Identifying common and wild plants, trees, structures of plants, exploring local environments and habitats, seasons, planting and growing. 

PSHE: Peer discussion, Collaboration. 

I Can…

  • I have seen how some artists explore the world around them to help them find inspiration.

  • I can explore my local environment (school, home, etc) and collect things which catch my eye.

  • I can explore composition by arranging the things that I have collected.

  • I can talk about what I collected, and how and why I arranged the things I collected.

  • I can take photographs of my artwork and I can think about focus and light.

  • I can use careful looking to practice observational drawing, and I can focus for 5 or 10 minutes.

  • I can hold an object and I can make a drawing thinking about the way the object feels. 

  • I can combine different drawing media such as wax resist and watercolour, graphite and water, wax crayon and pencil in my observational drawings.

  • I can work small in my sketchbook and on large sheets of paper, exploring how I can use line, shape and colour in my work.

  • I can cut out and collage to explore composition.

  • I can talk about the work I have made with my classmates, sharing the things I thought were successful and thinking about things I would like to try again.


This pathway takes 6 weeks, with an hour per week. Shorten or lengthen the suggested pathway according to time and experience. Follow the stages in green for a shorter pathway or less complex journey.


Soft pencils, handwriting pens.

Project 1: Wax Resist Autumn Leaves – A3 cartridge paper, metallic wax crayons, brusho ink.

Project 2: Autumn Floor Drawings – Water colour, graphite, charcoal, soft B pencils, inks, A2 paper.

Pathway: Explore & Draw

  • Aims of the Pathway

    In this pathway pupils are introduced to the idea that artists are inspired by the world around them. Children are empowered to go out into the world, re-see, collect and re-present through drawing. 

  • Week 1: Introduction

    Artists Are Collectors & Explorers

    Introduce children to the idea that artists are often collectors and explorers. 

    artists as collectors

    Visit theTalking Points: Artists As Collectors & Explorersresource and choose from one or more artists. Enable children to understand that by exploring our environments with “fresh eyes” and curiosity we can find inspiration for our artwork. 

    Use sketchbooks to make visual lists of places and things you could explore and collect in your school, home and area. 

  • Week 2: Explore and Collect

    Explore and Collect

    selecting the first twigs

    Get active and invite children to go outside into the playground or school area to collect and create “Patterns With Nature”.

    Play with the objects to create new shapes and patterns on the ground, around branches, and on logs. Be curious. Think about how even ordinary things like twigs and pebbles might be interesting when you really look at them.

    Gather the objects back to the classroom and explore composition and arrangements on paper and table tops. Don’t fasten anything down. Just play with the compositions you can make. Can you sort by colour, size, material, type?

  • Photograph Your Work

    Take photographs of the compositions. Ask the children to adapt and change how the objects are arranged or to photograph them from different angles or orientations.

    Remember to reflect on the different elements of the session: active gathering and careful documentation. Discuss how the children found these approaches.

    Print out the photographs and save them. They can be used later in the project.

  • Week 3: Sketchbook Work

    Two Drawing Exercises

    Working in a sketchbook and using a variety of media (handwriting pen, pencil), try the exercises below, drawing the things you collected the week before as individual items (i.e. not part of a bigger composition). 

  • Exercise One:

    Continuous Line Drawing Exercise

    Continuous line drawing

    Continuous Line Drawings are a great way to get participants to loosen up, get them to look closely, and make new and interesting marks on the paper. With younger children (6 to 10) we sometimes call them “squiggle drawings”.

    For full instructions visit theContinuous Line Drawingresource. 

  • Exercise Two:

    Feely Drawings

    Feeling objects behind back before drawing

    Make drawings inspired by sense of touch. This is a fun way to encourage children to be really curious about what they are drawing. How do they use the sense of touch to find the  information they need to make a drawing? Can you forget what you know by sight? And how does this make your drawings look?

    For full instructions visit the “Feely Drawings” resource. 

  • Week 4 and 5: Projects

    Choose a Project

    Choose one of the two projects below to explore how pupils can bring all their skills together into a finished drawing. 

  • Project One:

    Wax Resist Autumn Leaves

    Wax resist autumn leaves by year 3-6 pupils at Dent C of E Primary School in the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria

    In theWax Resist Autumn Leavesresource, children are introduced to wax resist techniques, inspired by the rich colours and shapes of autumn leaves.

    Begin with observational drawing techniques, using the objects you collected from your environment as subject matter, followed by an immersive exploration of colour and scale using wax crayons and Brusho Crystal Colours. If your pupils collected other objects rather than leaves, simply adapt the resource to suit. 

    You might also like to visit the “What is Composition?” resource to help pupils think about how they might build an awareness of composition in their artwork. 

  • Or...

  • Project Two

    Autumn Floor Drawings

    Squiggle Drawing & Autumn Floor Drawing - Free to Access

    Use theAutumn Floor Drawingresource which you can find as the second part of the resource. to give pupils the opportunity to continue practicing their observation and mark-making skills, this time bringing in two added elements:

    1) Thinking about composition. These drawings have no top or bottom as they are inspired by the fallen leaves and twigs on the ground. You might like to talk to pupils about composition using the “What is Composition?” resource. 

    2) Great experimentation with different media. Explore graphite, water soluble graphite, wax resist and watercolour or ink, or a combination of all those media. 

  • Reflect, Share, Talk

    Reflect, Share, Talk

    Time to see the work which has been made, talk about intention and outcome.

    Give the work the respect it deserves and clear a space to see all the work made, including the sketchbook work made earlier. Remind the children of their hard work and enable them to connect all the elements of their learning. 

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

    You might like to assemble the drawings made in Week 2 and 3 into a “class” Backwards Sketchbook

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

If You Use AccessArt Resources... You might like to...

You May Also Like...

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites