Pathway: Sculpture, Structure, Inventiveness & Determination

Pathway for Years 3 & 4

Drawing, Sketchbooks, Sculpture

Key Concepts:

  • That artists can learn from the world around them. That artists can draw parallels with other beings/events to help us understand things about ourselves.

  • That artists take creative risks. That artists try to say new things by manipulating and representing the materials of the world.

  • That we can feel safe enough to take creative risks in our own work. That we can explore materials and ideas feeling free from criticism.

  • That we can express our personality through the art we make.

  • That we can use materials, tools and the ideas in our head to explore line, shape, form, balance and structure.

  • That making art can be hard, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing it right or aren’t good at it. It just means we are doing it.  

In this pathway children explore formal drawing and sculpture skills like line, mark making, shape, form, balance and structure, but they also just as importantly explore how it feels to make art. They explore how they can appreciate a sense of challenge, and a feeling of trying things out without fear of failure or “wrong or right”.

Pupils start by seeing how artists sometimes help us learn about ourselves by drawing parallels with other lives. Pupils apply this knowledge by looking at how birds build nests – what can we learn from them about the traits we might show when we make experimental drawings and build sculpture?

Various Drawing Materials, Construction Materials 

Artists: Marcus Coates

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!

ages 5-8
ages 9-11

A PDF of this pathway can be found here.

Teaching Notes

See the recording of the hour long zoom CPD to introduce teachers to this pathway.

Curriculum Links

Geography: Link with birds and migration via the North and South hemisphere.

Science: Language to support understanding of materials, habitats.

PSHE: Supports Responsibility to the planet, Collaboration, Peer Discussion.

I Can…

  • I have seen how we can learn about ourselves through art.

  • I can feel safe to take creative risks when I work. I can enjoy the feeling of experimenting with materials.

  • I can feel ok when I am being challenged by materials and ideas. I can feel ok when I don’t know exactly what I’m doing.

  • I can use a variety of drawing materials to make experimental drawings based upon observation. 

  • I can construct with a variety of materials to make a sculpture. 

  • I can see my personality in what I have made.

  • 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.

  • I can appreciate the work of my classmates and I can share my response to their work, identifying similarities and differences in our approach and outcomes. 

  • I can take photographs of my work thinking about presentation, focus and lighting. 


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.


A3 cartridge paper, soft B and hard H pencils, ink, graphite sticks, water soluble graphite, wax crayons, water colour.

Construction Materials (see list here )

Pathway: Sculpture, Structure, Inventiveness & Determination

  • Aims of the Pathway

    This pathway aims to provide children with the opportunity to connect drawing and making, encouraging the freedom to be inventive and exploratory. 

    The processes involved ask children to take creative risks, and to feel ok if they feel challenged by creating art. 

  • Week 1: Introduce

    Introduce artists who are inspired by things that birds can teach us

    Marcus Coates, Conference of the Birds, 2019, Film by Kate MacGarry

    Use the free to access “Talking Points: What Can We Learn From Birds!” resource to explore how artists draw parallels with other beings so that we can learn about ourselves. 

  • Weeks 2 & 3: Exploratory Mark Making

    Drawing Nests

    Flicking paint over graphite, wax resist and watercolour nest

    Use the “Drawing Nests” resource to explore how pupils can use a variety of media to create observed and expressive drawings of nests. 

    The resource explores how their drawings might feel relatively “neat” or might feel “messy” – both are fine! We are able to express our personality through art!

    Use sketchbooks to test materials. If children need drawing source material use our free to access “Drawing Source Material: Nests” resource. Invite children to create their own “Experimental Mark Making Tools” to create expressive and personal drawings.

    Stop at the making activity (you will do that next week).

    Explore the resource below to see a similar activity in a school:

    Nests: Materials, Tools, Testing & Sketchbooks

    Nests: Observational Ink Drawing

    Nests: Wet and Dry Media

    A nest drawing using ink and oil pastel

  • Weeks 4 & 5: Making

    Making Nests

    Use the “Perseverance, Determination and Inventiveness: Building Nests” resource to encourage children to explore how we practice and nurture valuable life skills when we make sculpture. The resource takes its starting point from what it must be like to be a bird, and place those first tentative twigs in place when nest building begins. How can children use their own instinct and intuition to make sculpture?

  • Week 6: Present & Share

    Share, Reflect & Discuss


    Use the “Crit” resource to help you run a class critique. 

    Clear a space and present drawings, sketchbooks and sculptures made.

    Walk around the space as if it were a gallery. Enable a conversation about the journey and skills learnt (personality traits as well as technical skills). 

    Take photographs of the work. Explore how children can take high quality photographs of 3d artwork with this resource.

See the Pathway Used in Schools...

Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 6, Sheffield High School
Year 3 & 4, Malpas Alport Primary School
Year 3 & 4, Malpas Alport Primary School

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