Art around you | Ray Harryhausen

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.

Ray Harryhausen

Medusa model from Clash of the Titans


Take inspiration from the late, great Ray Harryhausen... the grandfather of stop-motion animation!

Among the activities below, we’re asking you to create characters, watch and make movies, and then end the week with a ‘creature club’ kitchen disco!

Activity one: create a character

The character of Medusa comes from the mythology of Ancient Greece.

Ray Harryhausen made this model of Medusa for the movie Clash of the Titans (1981). He used stop-motion animation to make Medusa appear to fight the movie-actors.

In this first activity we’d like you to make your very own creature! You could use plasticine, salt-dough, bits and bobs from around the house, stuff from the recycling bin (ask permission first!), or you could just draw your creature with a pencil. See the next activity if you need inspiration.

Skeleton models from 'Jason and the Argonauts' (1963) Ray Harryhausen
Minoton model from 'Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger' (about 1975) Ray Harryhausen

Activity two: see, think, wonder...

Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to get you thinking about mythical creatures and the fascinating characters that you might find in a Ray Harryhausen movie…

What kinds of magical creatures have you heard of?

What makes a creature scary? Its size? Sharp claws? Big teeth? Colour? Loud roar? Ability to breathe fire?!

What makes a creature magical? Wings? Speech? Magic powers? What could its magic powers be?

If you were to invent a magical creature or a fierce monster, where might it live? What might it eat?

What size would your magical creature be? As big as a house or small enough to fit in your pocket?!

Is your creature furry, scaly, slimy, spikey or feathered?

What would your creature do if it met you? Would it let you ride on it? Would it show you some magic? Or would it want to eat you up?!

Think about different stories with fierce monsters and magical creatures in them. Greek myths and legends, for example, or fairy stories. At the same time you could also think about the stop-motion model animation in some of the Ray Harryhausen movies, such as King Kong, Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts.

Use some of the questions above to design a movie poster featuring your own made-up character!

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

This week’s challenge is to make a ‘forced perspective’ photo to create the illusion of scale. Google 'forced perspective photo' to see some fun examples.

Ray Harryhausen used this effective technique in some of his films, most notably in The 3 Worlds of Gulliver. It’s fun, easy to do, and all you need is a camera - we can’t wait to see how you get on!

Activity four: watch

Grab your popcorn and watch this trailer for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958).

This trailer was filmed over 60 years ago – they didn’t have anything close to the technology that we have nowadays! It shows you some tricks to how the movie magic was made. Does anything surprise you?


Try making a ‘storyboard’ template for a trailer of your favourite film, by doing the following…

  • Draw a series of rectangles on a piece of paper, as if you were making your own comic.
  • Think about key scenes in your favourite film. Draw them in the boxes.
  • Add a script to make the film sound really exciting. Under each rectangle, write the line of script or dialogue that matches that scene.
Ray Harryhausen, It Came from Beneath the Sea storyboard sketches from, About 1954
Ray Harryhausen, It Came from Beneath the Sea storyboard sketches from, About 1954

Activity five: Make your own movie magic!

Stop-motion-animation is a technique in film-making that brings inanimate objects to life and makes things look like they are moving on their own.

The basic steps of stop-motion animation are as follows:-

  • Put an object in front of a camera and take a photo
  • Move the object a tiny bit before taking another photo
  • Repeat these steps lots and lots of times – then, when you watch the photos in rapid succession, the object looks like it’s moving!

If that all sounds a bit complicated, fear not! There’s a brilliant free app called Stop Motion Studio that we recommend you download. It’s really to use and includes lots of clear instructions.

Here are some further tips to help you become an expert animator:

  • Set up a backdrop. This could, for example, be a wall, or a painted cardboard box, or a piece of fabric
  • Gather toys or your own character to include in your animation
  • Find somehting that will keep your device in the same place - a stand, tripod or a stack of books – and set it up to face the set that you’ve created
  • Start the Stop Motion Studio app and make your movie!


As you experiment and get the hang of it, think about developing a storyline. Think about the who, where, when, what, why behind your wee film! Add a script, make a movie poster and trailer…. Why not dress up and have a film screening for your family! You’re the boss!

If you don’t have a phone or tablet, you can make a non-digital animation by making your own FLIP-BOOK! It’s the same kind of idea - if you move lots of images through a single spot quick enough, it creates the illusion of a single, animated image.

A special activity... enjoy a Creature Club Kitchen Disco!

To mark the end of the week, we welcome you to dress up like a Ray Harryhausen creature, throw some shapes and join us for a Creature Club Kitchen Disco! Wear your best creature-costume, put on your favourite tunes, and we’ll see you on the (kitchen) dancefloor!