Drawing in the National Curriculum

AccessArt advocates:

  • Access to varied drawing materials from the outset. There is no reason why children should not be introduced to a varied range of drawing materials from Year One. The more experience children have of using a wide range of material the more they will feel able to make independent, confident, drawing decisions.

  • Traditional drawing skills, including drawing from observation, should be balanced alongside more experimental drawing skills. Drawing comes in many forms and each form should be equally valued.

  • Children should be given the opportunity to work on a variety of scales. Drawing can be physical as well as studious. Drawing should be an adventure.

  • Teachers should embrace the “journeyand consider the process as important (sometimes more) than the outcome. Working from a “display-backwards” mentality (where a teacher has an idea of an end result in mind) often jeopardises the true creative journey.

  • Children should be encouraged to understand the value of taking creative risks in their work. See more about Understanding Risk here.

  • Assess gently and understand the key concepts you might explore through our Resonating Statements.


Explore Drawing Exercises Below

Beginners Guide to Drawing Materials

A guide to the drawing materials used in the accessart resources, including charcoal, graphite, oil pastel, soft pastel, watercolour etc.

Drawing like a Caveman

Exploring charcoal using our hands.

Discovering Charcoal Warm-Up Exercise

9 Actions of using charcoal – a guided whole class introduction.

Graphite Mark Making Warm-Up Exercise

Using different drawing actions to explore graphite.

Monoprinting with Oil Pastel and Carbon Paper

Using carbon copy paper coated with oil pastel as a no mess way to explore monoprints. Monoprints are a great way to encourage loose, free, drawing and varied mark-making.

Drawing Minibeasts using a Continuous Line and Graphite and Oil Pastel

Uses rich colours and careful lines to create exciting drawings.

Exploring Ink and Making Mark-Making tools

Encouraging children to be inventive in how they make marks, and in inventing their own mark-making tools.

Treasured Fossils

Using a variety of drawing media on found object surfaces. Uses observation plus experimentation skills to create individual and shared artwork.

Drawing Vegetables: A Drawing Game

Empowers children to make their own drawing decisions and challenges/consolidates their knowledge of ways of working with varied drawing materials.

Warm-Up Exercise: Drawing Spirals

Encourages drawing action from the wrist to the shoulder to the whole body…

Drawing Spiral Snails

Exploring soft chalk pastels.

Finger Palette Portraits

Using charcoal dust and hands to create portraits from observation.

Turning Paper into Fur

Using soft pastel, graphite and charcoal to transform a piece of paper into fur.

The Electric Shades of Coloured Biros

Using the synthetic colours of biros to create vivid and vibrant studies of vessels. Encourages careful observation and a range of mark-making.

Using Soft Pastel to Capture Texture

Working intuitively to capture the texture of folded clothing using soft pastel and graphite.

Exploring Drawing a Glass Still Life with Tracing Paper

Using tracing paper to make a layered, communal, drawing of a glass still life. Encourages children to think about composition as well as observation.

Woodcut Lookalikes

Acrylic painted over oil pastel on cardboard to create woodcut lookalikes. Teaches children to think about light/dark, positive/negative.

Drawing Materials Sample Cards

Children use “drawing materials to illustrate drawing materials”. Promotes exploration of materials, observation, and produces a useful classroom resource.

Drawing from Observation

The resources in this section begin with nurturing observation skills. There is a point at which, in every drawing, the focus moves from the subject matter to the drawing itself, as the drawing takes on its own life. Many of these resources then move from observation towards an exploration of the drawing medium involved (see Introduction to Materials above).

Making a Blind Contour Drawing

Traditional exercise to encourage greater observation skills and help match speed of looking with speed of drawing.

Helping Children to Make Stronger Drawings

Simple exercise to help children make bolder marks.

Making Large as Life Scroll Drawings

Children work on a one to one ratio to make large as life drawings. Excellent for improving matching speed of looking with speed of drawing.

Thoughtful Mark Making

Guided exercise to help children diversity their mark making and understand the value of line in creating tone/interest.

Drawing Speed

The importance of speed in drawing. How matching speed of looking with speed of drawing improves drawing skills.

Layered Gestural Drawing for Children

Multi colour, intuitive drawings to explore gestural (sketchy) mark making.

Working on Shared Drawing Pages & Being Inspired by Each Other

Observational drawings drawn on cummunal sheets. What can we learn from each other?

Seasonal Drawings

A guided process to produce seasonal drawings. Drawing from observation, careful cutting, collage and colour.

Tackling Still Life, Part One

Using a continuous line to aid observation.

Tackling Still Life, Part Three

Using acrylic paint to explore mark making.

Drawing & Collaging Fish, & Seeing Composition

Using collage and mark-making to develop fish studies into highly personal drawings.

A School Full of Characters

Inspired by the illustrations of David Tazzyman (Mr Gum), children explore creating characterful portraits.

Drawings of Toys Inspired by Gwen John

Line and watercolour studies of soft toys, inspired by Gwen John’s watercolour cat paintings.

Drawings by Torchlight

Using light to create a sense of drama, this session sees children making scenes with small toys and bringing them to life in charcoal.

Drawing Feathers: Perfect for Mark Making

Drawing feathers from observation leading to an exploration of materials.

Potatoes, Playmobil and Henry Moore: Making Drawings with Mass

Using potatoes, pebbles and playmobil, wax resist, watercolour and graphite to make drawings which convey a sense of mass and form.

Drawings of Inventions Inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci

Children draw a variety of everyday objects, using a variety of media, and then use these as the basis to collage inventions.

See Three Shapes

Simple guided exercise using ink to aid looking and help children convey form.

Introducing Foreshortening

Sinple and effective exercise to introduce foreshortening to children.

Simple Perspective for Children

Single point perspective taught in an inuitive way.

Simple Drawings on Brown Paper: Letting Form and Colour CoExist

Using soft pastels and graphite to create layered drawings of form and colour.

Squiggle Drawings & Autumn Floor Drawings

Continuous line drawing to improve observation, followed by a materials exploration to create textural drawings.

Drawing Pouring Water

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci – drawing pouring water. An active session in which children start with careful observation and move on to an exploration of materials.

Tackling Still Life, Part Two

Exploring shadow – drawing from the ground up!

Drawing Fish with Pen, Pencil and Watercolour

Studies from life, from pencil to watercolour.

Drawing from Life and Acting Up Abit!

Drawing from life does not happen nearly enough at school and yet there are many willing models!

Making Moving Drawings with Children

Using paper to create animated drawings.

Drawing Animals with Cartoon-Like Character

An alternative way to learn how to draw cartoons. This session describes how children create their own cartoon characters through careful observation and experiemental drawing.

Illustrations by Children: Drawings which Tell Stories

Using descriptive sentences and charcoal to create atmospheric illustrations

Oil Pastel and Graphite on Plaster

Inspired by Vincent van Gogh, children use oil pastel and linseed oil to work from a still life.

Inspired by the Tapestries of Henry Moore: Watercolour Washes

Inspired by the beautiful tapestries made by Henry Moore, children draw vegetables in a limited palette of watercolour.

Experimental Approaches

The resources in this section acknowledge that pupils will be undertaking their own “drawing journey” in which they will be making their own drawing discoveries. These experimental approaches will help pupils look at drawing in its widest possible sense, and help them to further manipulate materials and subject matter.

Encouraging Children to Understand Risk in Drawing

Encouraging pupils (and teachers) to understand the value of taking risks in drawing.

Making a Shy Drawing

How can intention and action affect your drawing.

Starting with Safe, then Pushing the Wall

Helping children push their drawings out of their “safe” zone.
Mark making exercise in which children use their imagination to create drawings which capture a sense of drama.

Colour & Compostition Inspired by Ben Nicholson

Exploring shape and colour as elements with which to create a composition.

Dressing up as Fossils

Drawing on fabric to design textiles and then using the drawings in a surprise way!

Still and Dynamic Drawing: Making Spells!

Draw a swirling spell pot full of ingrediants! Children make individual observational drawings before using them as a collage material on a communal drawing.

“Feely Drawings” or Drawing by Touch

Gathering information about subject matter by alternative methods

One Line Street Scene: A Visualisation Warm-Up

Talking children through a drawing to help trigger their imagination.

Exercise for Making an Artists' Book

Observational drawing, collage and book making. Challenges preconceptions of how a drawing sits on a page.

Exaggerating to Communicate!

Three simple exercises to help children to draw figures with real character. Inspired by Quentin Blake.

Developing a Drawing Through Exploration of Media

Enabling children to feel confident enough to pursue their own “drawing journey”

What can Making Sculpture Teach us about Drawing?

Making sculpture with compositional elements. How does throwing a sculpture “off balance” enable us to learn about composition in drawing?

Picnic Drawing: Summer Party!

Creating a shared drawing of a picnic rug. Draw the food then eat it!