Make a collection of objects and irregular shapes that children might draw around. For example, this could include items like plastic cutlery, keys, shapes from construction toys, weather symbols from a weather display.

"Look. Here is something from the shape collection. It is a spoon! I can draw a line around this spoon. This is an outline. I can find the outline of all sorts of things. What shall I try next? A key, the cloud symbol? Now you try to make some outline shapes of your own.

The outlines you have drawn make shapes. Look at all the shapes you have drawn. What can you recognise? We can recognise an object by its outline?"

Children might work together and combine their shapes on large sheets of paper. Children could hunt for objects to draw around themselves. You could extend this drawing around activity by specially making some regular and irregular shapes out of cardboard for children to use as templates to draw their own outline shapes.

Use the drawing around idea as the basis of a fabric design project. Children could identify their favourite outline shapes. Stretch some fabric over a table top or board and children could use fabric crayons or pens to draw around the shapes. These could be combined in a regular pattern or the result could be simply an exciting jumble of different overlapping shapes.

  • Adapted and expanded from pages 14 and 15 of 'Teaching Art at Key Stage 1', Nigel Meager, 1993, NSEAD. See the NSEAD web site for information about ordering this book.
  • Use the first few activities from this mini-project as a starting point for other introductory projects that may focus on shape. For example, look at the units: 'drawing shapes by looking', 'body shapes', 'making a collage of simple shapes' .
  • If you are working with more advanced children, this project and the ones listed here make an excellent starting point for work that teaches children a method for making observational drawings for example, for portraits or buildings.
  • Have you thought of wondering (with your children) whether things can be separated from their shape? For example, "what shape is this cup?" The answer is likely to be, "a cup-shape!" So you might introduce particular shapes or important shapes.
  • You could ask, with more advanced children, "Why have we got two eyes?" How does this change how we see shapes? It has something to do with finding shapes in space. You could take the famous flying saucer shape and wonder about how and when it becomes cigar shaped!

A collection of object shapes, washable felt pens, markers, wax crayons, individual size sheets of paper and large sheets for collaborative work, fabric crayons and white fabric.