Content featured on this site is © Copyright of Paul Carney unless otherwise stated.

  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon

Early Primary, Elementary art lesson plans for Key Stage One students aged 5 - 7

Of all the art teaching I’ve been involved in working with early education phase has to be right up there as the best teaching experiences I’ve had. Art is usually ingrained in every day experience and often taught by teachers and classroom assistants who aren’t usually experts themselves, but they aren’t afraid to have a go. That quality is priceless and you should cherish it. It doesn’t really matter how good at art YOU are, it just matters that you provide opportunities and experiences to make art and explore. I wouldn’t worry about assessment either and learning objectives should be light and encouraging. Don't worry about doing it 'right', just focus on; tactile, sensory, colour, shape, texture, materials etc and keep on having fun.

My lessons (except the drawing units) contain full lesson plans that cover; Learning Objectives, Success Criteria, Differentiation, tips and hints, handouts for students, assessment guidance, artist links and cross-curricular links where appropriate. They also contain a full teaching Powerpoint presentation for you to use and full colour instructions and supporting pictures where relevant. 

Mr Murakami 

Early Primary, Key Stage 1, Early Elementary Painting lessons Age 5 - 7

A delightful project that draws on the contemporary artist Takahashi Murakami to inspire painting skills theory, colour mixing, and lots of imaginative exercises. One for younger key stage 1 children, there are literacy links and lessons in colour theory, worksheets and art images for you to use in class. Free to Download.  File 1     File 2

Tony Cragg Project 

Early Primary, Key Stage 1, Early Elementary 3D Making Age 5 - 7

This 3D making project involves making a large piece of art from lots of small hand-made pieces. It also teaches colour theory and is based on UK artist Tony Cragg who made a fantastic piece of art from found materials called; 'Britain Seen from the North 1981' The unit relates his artwork to the making of a large, class based art piece. Children will gain experience of making art using three methods; moulds, cutting shapes and finding coloured objects. It’s one that everyone can get involved in and ticks the boxes for those curriculum learning objectives: looking at artists' work.

It contains a complete 'How to' set of instructions, powerpoint, a booklet for the pupils and lesson plan so you save time. You might also look at Tony's seminal work; New Stones-Newton's Tones 1978 to inspire your class further.

Birds of Paradise art project, key stage 1 art lesson plans ideas
Birds of Paradise Ages 5-7

Early Primary, Key Stage 1, Early Elementary Craft project linking Geography, Age 5 - 7

Learn about the fabulous birds of New Guinea and how they have evolved into some of the most stunning creatures on the planet. Teach sketchbook recording techniques, art methods and my own technique of making birds using PVA glue. This is a lovely craft project for younger art students.

Printmaking for the classroom

Printmaking in the busy classroom

Early Primary Key Stage 1 Early Elementary compatible, Craft skills projects, Ages 5 -14

This 80 page, fully illustrated guide to printmaking shows you thirteen simple printmaking exercises that can be done with a minimum of expertise, are low cost and will make the minimum of mess. The book shows you step by step guides to making easy, simple printmaking techniques. Great for Key Stage 1 science, geography, Maths and so much more. Suitable for KS1, 2 or 3 Store


Many schools spend a fortune buying expensive sketchbooks but with budgets being so tight it's worth making your own. You don't need expensive materials, it's dead easy. Simply fold a piece of packaging card in half and fill it with a few folded envelopes, junk mail, scrap paper, magazines and anything else you have lying around. Then put an elastic band around the middle. That's it! 

Look at these fantastic examples from Gomersal Primary School and check out their brilliant blog for more art ideas. Better still, why not create your own blog and link to theirs? Sharing good practice is awesome!

Drawing Advice for early years

The biggest factor in teaching anyone to draw is mastering control and dexterity.

In such young children this will not be fully developed so you will usually see awkward attempts at realising thoughts and ideas. Drawings at this age are beautiful and profound and I still have my own children's first drawings. To aid improvement, focus on trying to draw simple shapes, circles, triangles, squares etc. This will not only improve drawing but also handwriting.

My main advice at this age is to draw often, draw with lots of different things; pencils, graphite sticks, twigs, ink, rolled up paper stumps and other art materials. For subject matter; apart from the obvious Still Life subjects, change the scale, draw big and draw impossible things such as the sound of raindrops, the feeling of the sun on your skin etc. and draw from memory and imagination.

There is some fabulous drawing resources available from the Big Draw website, it's well worth a visit! You might also try out some of the exercises below or my Foundation Drawing Unit from the Homepage.

painting tips ideas lesson plans

Basic Painting Care

A powerpoint that outlines basic principles and housekeeping of painting. A must have!

Free to Download


Most teachers of art in the early years stage teach the names and properties of the basic colours, as well as mixing secondaries from primaries, though colleagues at later years will tell you they still forget these when they are sixteen years old! 

Basic brush control is taught too and holding the brush on the edge of the silver part of the barrel will improve this. I tell my children to imagine they are brushing a hamster, so that they go in the same direction and lift the brush from the paper, being gentle and careful as they paint. Children with a heavy hand will press too hard and brush in random directions, putting too much paint on the brush or too little. So it's important to show them how much paint to load the brush with. Also important is to show the children how to use the side of the brush for painting lines and edges and the tip of the brush for detail.

But this is of little help if the brushes they are using are too chunky and incapable of painting accurately. I know children need wider barrels to paint with at young ages, but they should try to use watercolour brushes and bristle brushes when able. Use soft watercolour brushes in size one or two for detail, size tens for middle-sized areas and sixteens or higher for large areas or washes. Use bristle brushes for poster paint or when painting on textured papers. I believe strongly that children as young as year one should be using decent quality brushes in a range of sizes. You can buy packs of brushes quite cheaply these days.

Consultancy Service

As an NSEAD registered art consultant, I offer a friendly, professional art consultancy service to schools, from early years right through to Secondary GCSE. I've worked with infant schools to improve art assessment, delivered primary school CPD on skills and progression, worked with Subject Leaders to raise attainment and done whole school, secondary art department audits including formal lesson observations and department reviews. My over-arching strategy is to support the professional development of hard working professionals with positive and constructive advice for improvement.

Email Me


Training Courses

Please follow the link to see my latest CPD teacher training courses. If you can't see any that suits your needs, why don't you arrange for a bespoke in-school service?

Art consultants INSET CPD art