Art around you | Iain Stewart

One Day Strike for the National Health Service, Cambridge Street, Edinburgh

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.

Iain Stewart

One Day Strike for the National Health Service, Cambridge Street, Edinburgh

Inspired by this photograph, let's celebrate our heroes!

Earlier in the year, every Thursday evening people came together to clap and make noise for important people such as nurses, doctors, carers and front-line workers, who are some of the many heroes of our society. Did you join in?!

This image is from photographer Iain Stewart’s project, ‘Picture of Health’, for which he followed his parents (both doctors) and took photos to record them at work.

These activities include different ways for you to celebrate the heroes in YOUR life, whoever they may be.

Activity one: who's your hero?

We think that people who keep us safe, strong and healthy are heroes. But a hero can be anyone. A hero could be an aunty or a teacher, a good friend or a pet. They could be someone you know well... or someone you've never met. A hero is anyone you look up to.

Who is YOUR hero? Your first activity is to write them a letter, send them a postcard or a drawing. Let them know why they are your hero. Is it because they are brave, kind, or something else? How are you going to decorate your letter? With drawings? Fancy writing? What do you think would make them smile?

Ask an adult to help you send your message to your hero. Maybe post, email, text? Or give it to them next time you see them.

Activity two: see, think, wonder

Art can inspire us in lots of different ways. This activity doesn't require you to do or make anything, just to take the time to think and to talk, using these questions as prompts to help you see the world afresh. You could just think about these questions to yourself, write down your thoughts, or have a conversation with others.

Take a closer look at this week's artwork by Iain Stewart. It is called, ‘One Day Strike for the National Health Service, Cambridge Street, Edinburgh’. A strike is a type of protest. Have you heard the word ‘protest’ before? That’s what we’re going to explore with this activity.

​Sometimes when we get passionate about something we want to let other people know about it and try to make change, by protesting.

  • What do you really care about? Can you think of any examples of protests in the news, at school or in your life? Can you find an example where a protest has made a positive change, big or small?

Look closely at the photograph. Zoom in on details to get the full picture.

  • Describe everything you can see.
  • What do you think is happening?
  • What do you think is the most important thing in this picture?
  • If you were to step into this scene what sounds could you hear, what could you smell, see behind the person taking the photograph… and what happens next?

Could art be used to help protest?

  • What can art do that a newspaper article, for example, cannot?
  • Is making art a form of protest?

Activity three: a mid-week challenge for all the family

One of the nurses in the photograph is holding a sign. Can you see what it says? Our mid-week challenge is to make a sign together!

Maybe you’d like to thank a hero for helping others, say ‘hello’ to someone you miss or take a moment to shout about something that you are passionate about!

Make your message out of anything that you can find in the house. You could send it as a text message, put a note in your window, write it in chalk on the pavement, leave a message made of sticks in the park or shout it out loud when you’re on your daily walk … whatever you do, just make sure that you are heard!


Activity four: watch

This video is part of a project called ‘Art of the Future’. Groups of young people were sent random objects in a big cardboard box and were challenged to make a new artwork, together. The group in this video were interested in making art about mental health and created a performance shouting about how important it is to share how you’re feeling and to ask for help if you get stuck.

Read more about the project

Activity five: Easy as ABC...

If you’re creating a message for your hero, you’ll want it to be as eye-catching as possible!

When you see a sign in the street, what catches your eye? Is it the bright colours? The pictures? The words it uses? Or something else?

Let’s think about how we can change the colours and shapes of letters to make a message as eye-catching as possible. We want you to design, doodle, cut, collage and collect letters to make your very own typeface!

Can you make the whole alphabet out of things you can find around the house? Or set a time limit and see how many you can find in that time! Which letters were easy to spot, and which the hardest? We found it hardest to find a letter ‘K’ – how about you? See below for a video showing off the typeface that we made!

Create a sentence out of your found letters- or design your own alphabet. Start by making the silliest word you can think of - try to make somebody laugh!

Especially for Under 5s: superheroes!

This week we’ve been celebrating our heroes! But what’s a superhero without a costume? … Explore our ideas to get you and your family sorted with a superhero disguise before you head out on your Saturday adventures.

1. Make a mask! Use any card that you can get your hands on. Cereal boxes, egg box lids, delivery packages… anything with a bit of weight works really well! Make a hole. Tie it together with string, laces, wool… and have fun decorating!

2. Arm cuffs! Leftover loo rolls make excellent superhero arm cuffs!

3. A Cape (of course!) What could you use for a cape? A towel, a pillow-case, an apron, a coat worn by the hood?

4. Superhero training! Every hero needs to practice their skills to stay on their game. Set up a DIY obstacle course in your garden or living room.

5. Talk about your heroes. You can use this opportunity to talk about the real heroes who make a different in your world everyday … remember, not all superheroes wear capes!

Make your own alphabet

To inspire you, here's one we made earlier, using things from around the house!