Art Competition for Schools and Families| Nursery

Theme: If I Had a Pet

These resources aim to encourage nursery and school children to create their own artworks, inspired by artworks in the National Galleries of Scotland Collection.

Here you will find three key artworks to look at and discuss, with some additional images included below. There are suggestions of things to think about, what to make and examples of materials that can be used.

Things to think about:

  • Where is this lady’s pet?
  • Do you think she trained it to sit on her finger?
  • What else do you think it can do?
  • Why do you think she has dressed up in her best party clothes to get her picture painted with her pet?
  • Why do you think she chose a bird as her pet?



This lady was very rich and she was friends with a king. She got this picture made to show people how much money she had and to show off her good taste. Her pet parrot would have been very expensive to buy and to look after but she would have had servants to help her.

Things to think about:

  • This lady is a milkmaid. What does she do for her job?
  • How many pets does she have?
  • What are the cats drinking? How else do you think she looks after them?
  • When she and the cats aren’t working how do you think they play and relax together?



The milkmaid is holding a little stool that she would have sat on while she was milking the cows. Her pet cats would have also worked in the milking parlour. They would have caught the rats and mice that would try to steal the cows’ food.

Things to think about:

  • What kind of animal is hiding behind the grass?
  • What do you think he is looking at?
  • How do you think the dog’s owner would have called him back?
  • What do dogs like doing when they are outdoors?



The artist, Ed Ruscha, said he wanted to make a picture of something ‘smoky and difficult to see.’ He liked looking at simple pictures from children’s books. Can you think of any pictures of animals like this from story books you’ve read?

Things to consider

Here are a few questions to help spark the imagination.

  • Do you have a pet? Do you know anyone who does? What sort of animals are they?
  • If you could have any pet in the world what would it be?
  • Would your pet be big or small? Fierce or friendly? Soft or spikey?
  • What noises would your pet make?
  • Would you rather have a furry rabbit or a scaly crocodile?
  • What can you do with a pet? Stroke it? Ride it? Play with it?
  • Where can you get a pet from?
  • What do you need to do to look after a pet?
  • Can you think of any songs about animals? How Much is That Doggy in the Window?, Little Peter Rabbit, Monkeys Jumping on the Bed



A picture of a pet. It can be real or imaginary. You can be with your pet in the picture or your pet can be on its own. Your pet could be sleeping, playing, eating or doing anything else you can think of!


Any size paper, in any colour.
Any materials or combination of materials, such as pencils, paint, chalks, crayons, paper or fabric.


Curriculum for Excellence

Entering this can competition contribute to your teaching of Curriculum for Excellence and interdisciplinary learning. Here are some examples of what the children will be able to do in working towards their entries:

Expressive Arts Art and Design

Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through activities in art and design. EXA 0-05a

I can respond to the work of artists and designers by discussing my thoughts and feelings. EXA 0-07a

Health and wellbeing

I am developing my movement skills through practice and energetic play. HWB 0-22a

Literacy and English

As I listen and take part in conversations and discussions, I discover new words and phrases which I use to help me express my ideas, thoughts and feelings.
LIT 0-10a


I have observed living things in the environment over time and am becoming aware of how they depend on each other. SCN 0-01a

The National Galleries of Scotland Art Competition is proud to be supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Art Competition contact details

If you have any questions about the competition please get in touch.

[email protected]