Learning Materials

Art ideas for the classroom

Museum collections can be fantastic starting points for art activities. Collections are full of beautiful, intriguing and unusual objects, artworks and archival documents. They can help your pupils get close to the past and investigate different material cultures. They can help you to explore different creative techniques, materials and styles. They can also inspire new discussions within the classroom and encourage pupils to re-interpret history, making it relevant to their interests and ambitions.

Below are a range of creative activities, inspired by our collections, for you to try in the classroom. We hope they will encourage you to look at the past differently, take creative risks and use new materials. Do get in touch if you’d like to visit to see any of the collection objects.

Halliwall Collage 021. Collage: Kenneth Halliwell

Use the work of local artist Kenneth Halliwell to explore collage, with a particular focus on combining human and architectural elements, and exploring colour and texture.

KS1 or KS2



Painting - no faces39

2. Mark making on giant paper

Experiment with pupils from Samuel Rhodes Secondary to use different and unusual drawing tools including paint, chalk, wheels, extended pencils, the body and music on a giant, collaborative artwork.

Great for EYFS, KS1 and SEN.


British Postal Museum36

3. Mail Art: printing stamps and image transfers

Copy pupils at Highbury Grove Secondary School, who were inspired by the works of historic and contemporary mail artists to i create their own mail art envelopes from home-made stamps and image transfers.

KS2 and KS3 predominately



iphone upload May 2016 14844. Water logs: art inspired by nature and water

Learn more about our 17th Century wooden water pipe and how Hugh Myddleton brought fresh water through the New River to Islington and London. Then replicate our successful printing project with Blessed Sacrament Primary, combining mark making, rain makers, rubbings, mono printing and collage.



Picture85. Joe Orton Book Cover Collages

Learn more about our famous, or infamous, collection of collage book covers. Then replicate our successful five lesson project with Vittoria Primary, combining literacy, design and technology, hacking, ICT, collage and splicing!

KS2 and KS3



IMG_35796. 53 Cross Street: Victorian art inspired by found objects

A Georgian house, a Victorian family home, a hidden gem filled with fragments of wallpaper, lost objects, hidden messages and secrets. 53 Cross Street is the ideal project to link to the Victorians or Georgians and let you imagination run riot. See how Montem Primary were inspired by this house and its stories to experiment with a wide range of creative activities. A whole term’s worth of experimental art with links to history, literacy and play.

EYFS and KS1



7. WWI Embroidered Postcards: sharing cultures, sharing lives

During the First World War, teenage Leonard Mansfield sent embroidered postcards from the Western Front to his mother and girlfriend back home in Islington. Moreland Primary used these postcards as the starting point to explore their own cultural heritage in this mono printing postcard project.

EYFS and KS1

01bf610c-3df2-4b4a-9e01-8f0215123ea68. Gas-Air machine: exploring bodies and the senses

The Gas-Air machine from the 1940s was used as virtually the only form of pain relief for women giving birth. Samuel Rhodes SEN School took this unlikely object as the inspiration for their sensory art project exploring their bodies and how they work.A unique, creative, discussion based and active project for exploring what our bodes look like, how they work and even what they sound like.

SEN, KS1 and KS2


If I was a Colour1

9. UV Light Therapy Goggles: art and light

In the early 20th century rickets was a very common disorder among children, caused by a lack of vitamin D from food and sunlight. UV light therapy was a new treatment used to help treat children. Inspired by the UV Light Therapy goggles Robert Blair Primary explored light and colour combining science and art in a range of creative experiments.

KS1 and KS2



10. Inspired by Peter Yates, an exploration of community

In spring 2016 artist Ella Medley-Whitfield worked with pupils from year 4 at St John Highbury Vale Church of England Primary School and year 3 at Gillespie Primary School on an art project inspired by Day and Night, Winged Bulls by Peter Yates (1920-1982). Pupils created a mono printed textile banner using lino.




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