Art around you | David Mach

Gavin Hastings, b. 1962. Rugby player

Activities for children of all ages to look at, talk about and make their own discoveries about art.

As you explore this resource please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers, or that there is only one way to do the activities - they are all about looking, chatting, making, and exploring art, wherever you are and whatever you have around you.

You know your child best

Some activities may suit you better than others so pick and choose!


We’ve aimed the language at age 7+, but activities can be suitable for any age, just adapt to suit your child.


How long your child engages with the activity will vary. Depending on their age, the way they’re feeling that day, the immediate appeal of any activity... some will work better than others. Don't worry if they're not feeling it - try again another time, or move on to something else. You might be surprised by what they're interested in.  


We hope these suggestions will allow your child to develop their creativity by encouraging their curiosity, open mindedness, problem-solving and imagination.

Art knowledge

You don’t need to know anything about art to have fun with it. Encourage your child to share their ideas, observations and opinions. There’s never a wrong answer about art. And it's ok not to know all the answers. Nobody does. Where would the fun be in that?


If something worked, do it again!

Let your child lead

You don’t need to have all the ideas. In fact, if you really want your child to be creative, encouraging them to come up with their own ideas is a brilliant way to help your child be creative and explore their imagination.

Try to enjoy, together

Take a deep breath, you’re doing a brilliant job. Let us know if we can support you - we can't wait to see you in the gallery, as soon as we can.

David Mach

Gavin Hastings, b. 1962. Rugby player

This is a portrait of a person being active. Art isn’t always something that stands still. How many ways do you think that we can use our bodies to make art? These activities will start with our eyes and hands; cutting, tearing and rotating shapes into pictures of movement. Then we’ll give our brains a good workout and our mouths a good stretch with some ‘see, think, wonder’ conversation-starter questions. We’ll use our bodies to make shapes and finally, we’ll have a go at turning our toes, toys and even tummies into paintbrushes!

Activity one: Moving images!

The pieces that make up this artwork moved around a lot before they were stuck down. Moving all the pieces around when you’re making a collage helps you look at your artwork a-fresh and see it differently – and might help you make some creative decisions that you hadn't first thought of.. 

Can you find a picture of someone in a magazine or newspaper (or draw one yourself!), cut it up, and put it back together, so that it looks like it’s moving? 

  • Why not try cutting in squiggles, as well as straight lines?  
  • What if you try it with all the pieces close together? 
  • How about with some of the pieces far apart?  
  • Can you make it look like they are doing something different, just by moving the pieces?  

Don’t be afraid to make it a little messy. Often that looks more interesting – and gives your artwork a bit more movement! Have fun experimenting. 

Activity two: See, Think, Wonder

Have another look at image. Look closely, and don’t rush.  

  • What might this person be doing? How can you tell? 
  • Are they moving, or are they standing still?  
  • How has the artist showed you whether they are moving or standing still?    
  • If someone made a portrait of you, what would you like to be doing in it?  
  • If you could ask the artist AND the person in the portrait a question, what would you ask them?  
David Mach Gavin Hastings, b. 1962. Rugby player 1996 © David Mach

Activity three: Move, together 

Have you ever thought that shapes can also be made with our bodies? Art doesn’t just have to happen on paper. We can make shapes by how we move around.  
With your family go to a park or field, or somewhere where there is a bit of space.

Here are some shapes. Pick one shape together.  

  • Can you make this shape with your body?  
  • What is the biggest you can make this shape? 
  • What is the smallest? 
  • What if you all team up?  
  • Is there an action that looks like this shape?  

Now you can try another shape (or all of them!) - and then make up your own! 

Activity four: Watch  

Watch Ben tell us a tale about animals making their own moves - and a giant lazy frog who doesn’t like being active, at all! 

Activity five: for under fives!

Here’s two fun movement art activities. These are great for any wrigglers, and jigglers, and wee ones who don’t like to sit still! The clean activity is fun at any time – and the messy one is great if the sun comes out and you’re in the mood for creating a big mark-making mess, together! Have the hose at the ready! 

Clean: vrrrooooom-ovements 

  • Tape felt-tip pens to any of your wee ones’ toys that move 
  • Tape down paper - or cardboard boxes/ packaging from the recycling 
  • Let the mark-making vroooming commence! 
  • For extra fun, you could add a soundtrack. See if your child’s marks speed up or slow down with different tempos of music! 

Messy: It's a wrap!

  • Tape bubble-wrap or clingfilm loosely to you and your wee one's feet, or wrap it around their tummy  
  • Tape/fix paper to an outside wall, or lay it on the grass  
  • Step into and encourage them to brush on different colours of washable paint - being mindful not to add too much paint. You don’t want it to become slippy! 
  • Have fun rolling, mixing, stomping, tip-toing, dancing... putting your moves onto paper!