Art around you | Phoebe Anna Traquair

The Shepherd Boy

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.

Phoebe Anna Traquair

The Shepherd Boy

The Shepherd Boy by Phoebe Anna Traquair is a warm portrait of a little boy. We know from the title that he is doing a job. He is caring for his sheep.

These activities will help you to explore ideas about making choices, being kind and might even encourage you to have conversations with animals!

Activity one: Looking after the shepherd

It looks like the Shepherd boy is all alone out in the field. The sun is setting and the night is coming in.

He’s going to be cold, out there in the field. And maybe hungry, or lonely. It makes you wonder: who will look after him?

Can you pack a bag for the shepherd boy?

Think carefully about the items you put in. What would raise his spirits through the long, cold night? What would make him feel most cared for?

  • What might help him feel less cold?
  • What might he like to eat?
  • What would make him feel less lonely?
  • What might make him laugh?

Go and gather your favourite comforting things from around your house, or you can make a list of things to put in his bag.
Now, if you want to, you could pack another bag for someone in your life that you care about, or who cares for you. Then you can give the bag to them. And notice how it makes you feel. Being kind often makes us feel warm and happy, like the warm colours in the painting.

Activity two: See, Think, Wonder

Have another look at the painting. Look closely, and don’t rush.
Now imagine that the bit you’re seeing has been cut out of a larger painting. Answer these questions together:

  • What would you put in the rest of the picture? Something ordinary? Something surprising?
  • What kind of clothes do you imagine the shepherd boy to be wearing? What kind of shoes?
  • What could you put in the picture to make it really funny?
  • What is he looking at?
  • Do you have any other questions to ask each other?
Phoebe Anna Traquair The Shepherd Boy Dated 1891

Activity three:  Making The Kind Place

The Shepherd Boy could have built a shelter for himself to keep out the wind and the rain and the cold.

Build a den together. You can use anything you like. Some of our favourite dens have been made out of sticks, things from the recycling, cushions, blankets and sheets – or you can draw your den with pencils and paper. It could be big enough for your whole family, or wee enough for a mouse.

We’re going to call our den The Kind Place.

  • What kind of colours and fabrics come into The Kind Place?
  • What kind of music do you play in The Kind Place?
  • Who is invited into The Kind Place?
  • Ask the people who are with you: Tell us about a time when someone did something kind for you? How did it make you feel?

Activity four: Art Story

Listen to Ben bring this painting to life. You can look closer at the painting while you listen, draw along or just watch, it’s up to you.


Activity five: For Under 5s!

In Ben’s Art Story, The Shepherd Boy is given powers to hear what animals are saying.

Do you have any animals in your house? They can be real, or toys, or pictures of animals.

  • Take a piece of paper and cut it out into the shape of a speech bubble.
  • Place it near one of your animals
  • Together, write inside it what you think your animal might be saying!

Try it with a different animal or imagine that two animals are having a conversation with each other. What do they say?