English · PDHPE · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book review: The Dot

the dot

Book review: The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

The Dot is the story of Vashti, who somewhere along the line has lost her confidence in her drawing abilities. Thankfully, she has an understanding art teacher, who has most likely taught many students with this same view.

(As an art teacher, I have taught many students who have announced that they couldn’t draw. One of those students went on to become a recognised artist for their drawing ability!)

Vashti, in frustration, jabs the paper and creates “The Dot”. With encouragement and determination, she goes on to explore the basic shape as an artmaking theme and creates bigger and more exciting artworks each time she creates. Her confidence grows and she encourages others with their drawing as well.

This is a beautiful book about not giving up, keeping it simple, developing skills, having a go, growing in confidence and encouraging others. We are dedicated fans of author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and highly recommend his books, particularly the others in this set, Ish and Sky Color.

To extend the learning from this book you could have a read of the following activities.

  • Discussion: Do you sometimes feel like drawing is difficult like Vashti did? Do you have a go anyway?
  • What artworks could you create using just dots?
  • How important is encouragement to you and do you like to encourage others?
  • Yayoi Kusama is a popular artist who uses dots in her work. Have a look at this white room in a gallery that visitors were able to stick coloured dot stickers onto the walls, floors and furniture!*

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

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*Note: We do our best to make sure any external links are suitable but a supervising adult will need to do the research first to check that the content is suitable for students. Many artists have a wide range of artworks and although some artworks may be suitable for children and families, other artworks may not be. Supervising adults are responsible for ensuring that the content is appropriate.

Drama · English · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Recipe for a Story

recipe for a story

Book Review: Recipe for a Story, written and illustrated by Ella Burfoot

Ella Burfoot has been writing and illustrating since she was a child. That alone, should be an inspiration to many children who fill blank notebooks with lots of imaginative stories and illustrations. I am a parent to a child who does exactly this and being able to show them an example of a writer/illustrator who has published their work is wonderful.

Not only is the author a creative inspiration but so is this book. It is a fun story about how to write a story! Children can go through each page and think about whether they have included all the ingredients in their own writing to create a story.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some more suggestions for activities.

  • Read the book again and write a list of the ingredients for a story.
  • Write a story that includes those ingredients.
  • Illustrate the story!

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

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English · Geography · History · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book Review: Australia Illustrated


Book Review: Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an Australian artist who has illustrated many books. Her journey also includes a lot of other creative ventures, including encouraging others to draw and illustrate. Anyone who helps promote creativity in Australia gets a big thumbs up from us!

Australia Illustrated is a beautifully illustrated book dedicated to bringing the character of Australia to life through McCartney’s whimsy, watercolour images and digital art. Each section of this vast and varied country is explored, from the iconic places we know and love to the quirkier details that make us want to explore it more. From major cities to iconic foods, animals to historic details, Australia Illustrated is a visual feast of learning.

This book is a perfect way to introduce kids to the geography and diversity of this big land. The illustrations are an ideal way to communicate all of the amazing details and both kids and adults will be inspired. It would also be the perfect companion to anyone who is exploring Australia or planning a trip!

Tania McCartney’s website has links to teaching notes that explain all of the ways her book relates to different subject areas. It has quite a few ideas for activities in those different subject areas too.

To extend the learning from this book, here are some extra suggestions for activities.

  • On a map of Australia, plan a trip based on the things from the book you would like to visit.
  • Draw some of your own illustrations of things you think are important for people to know about Australia or another country that is significant to you.
  • Using the illustrations you have drawn from the previous task, create a poster/brochure for your chosen country.
  • Give watercolour painting a go!

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

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English · History · Uncategorized · visual arts

Book review: Uncle Andy’s

Uncle Andys

Book review: Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola

Uncle Andy’s has been written by Andy Warhol’s nephew! James Warhola has written and illustrated this wonderful story from his childhood. The beautifully illustrated book takes the reader on an exciting and entertaining journey through the eyes of James as a child, visiting his Uncle Andy and grandmother “Bubba” at their home/studio in the city of New York. The fabulous illustrations include references to some of Warhol’s most famous and valuable works. Seeing the artworks in the home surrounded by family, furniture and pets will really help young readers to appreciate Warhol’s works and relate them to their own lives. Children will have lots of fun spotting all of the 25 cats (all named Sam) in the illustrations.

The book refers to different kinds of artmaking. It obviously refers to Andy Warhol’s works like Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962 but it also refers to making sculptures out of found objects from the junk yard as well as a reference at the end about how James Warhola was inspired to develop his own artmaking through art classes, a wonderfully messy bedroom/studio and the support of his parents. The final page shows the young boy, James, in his studio, deep in his creative thoughts and drawing a found object, with his mum proudly looking over his shoulder.

To extend the learning from this book it is well worth looking into the works and time period of Andy Warhol’s artworks.

  • Talk about how he took ordinary objects and turned them into priceless works of art.
  • Talk about how screen-printing was used for advertising but Warhol was innovative and used it as an exciting method to create art.
  • Think about what popular, ordinary items of today would be considered new and exciting if you printed them as artworks.

For more creativity inspiring book suggestions, visit our library.

English · Uncategorized · visual arts

How to talk about ART with kids

how to talk to kids about art 2

This title should probably read; How to talk about ART with kids, even when you don’t understand it yourself. I often hear people say they don’t understand art and therefore have no interest in it. The beauty about art is that everybody has a different experience of an artwork. You don’t have to understand it to be able to discuss it.

We went for a sculpture walk the other day and it prompted lots of questions from the kids about the artworks we were looking at.

Children like expressing their opinions and when they talk about art it’s no different. If you have some questions ready you can learn a lot about the artworks you are looking at as well as the ideas of the kids you are discussing art with. It is an amazing literacy challenge too, the kids (and yourself) may learn some new terminology (maybe assemblage could be your next favorite scrabble word!)

The Australian NSW Visual Arts syllabus requires students to appreciate and discuss art. Choose around TWO questions (from the total list) per artwork you are looking at and let the discussion happen! I also recommend just choosing a few artworks at a time, not a whole gallery at once. If a picture tells a thousand words than each artwork you view is like reading an essay.

Look (Talk about what you can see)

  • What is it made of? Is it a stone sculpture or a painting….is it both…?
  • Does it remind you of anything?
  • What does it resemble?
  • Is it realistic
  • How do you think it was made?


  • How does it make you feel? Is it sad, spooky or does it make you laugh?
  • Do you like it? Why or why not?


  • Who made the artwork?
  • Where are they from?
  • Is there information around that will tell us about the artist?


  • When was the artwork made? Is that surprising?
  • Does it look new or old?

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Subject areas: Visual Arts

Australian Curriculum:

  • Visual Arts:  ACAVAR109, ACAVAR113, ACAVAR117

Stages: All stages

NSW Outcomes addressed:

  • Visual Arts: VAES1.3, VAES1.4, VAS1.3, VAS1.4, VAS2.3, VAS2.4, VAS3.3, VAS3.4,