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What happens in Foundation Stage art

Paint pots
Find out what your child will learn in art, with lesson examples, and get tips on simple homework ideas that will help them get ahead of the class.

In the Foundation Stage of national curriculum art, your child will be taught to use their imagination by dismantling, combining and discarding ideas and materials.

The practitioner will provide a variety of materials and Foundation Stage resources to stimulate your child's curiosity. Your child will explore and research ideas, imitate and experiment and develop their own ideas.

Practitioners will introduce appropriate vocabulary to help your child to talk about what they have produced, what they like and how they can make it better. Topics covered include colours (mixing, expression); marks (shapes, lines, patterns); texture and media (smooth, rough, shiny; paint, chalk, crayon). Children also begin to learn about the ways in which paintings and drawings can capture feelings.

Lesson examples

These are the kinds of activities your child might try in class:

  • A child uses purple paint to make spiral marks on paper. They repeat the exercise using crayons.
  • A child tips white and red paint onto their mixing tray and stirs them. With much delight they announce, “Look! It's gone pink!”
  • After watching a television programme about dinosaurs, the children use different sized boxes to make dinosaur models. They search in the ‘art scrap' box for something hard and scaly to finish off the dinosaur's back.

Help your child at home

Engage your child in these fun activities at home to build on their art skills:

  • Point out pictures, paintings, building designs, and objects such as furniture and ornaments to feed your child's appreciation for how different sorts of art enrich our lives. Ask questions such as, ‘What colours and patterns have been used? What about the materials and textures - is it fabric or wood, smooth or rough? What do you like or dislike about it?’
  • Use similar questions to help your child talk about their own artwork produced at nursery, school and home. Give plenty of feedback and praise, and focus on those parts that are most detailed to build on their strengths
  • A key skill at this stage is hand-eye coordination, so anything you can do that encourages your child to look first, then draw, and then look again will strengthen their art skills.
  • Explore different materials with your child and let them experiment with the different effects they can produce.
  • Try not to worry about it getting messy, most kids love tactile materials and enjoy interacting with them. Just make sure you put plenty of newspaper or an old sheet down!
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