Art Competition for Schools and Families | Primary 1-3

Theme: Toys

Welcome to the National Galleries of Scotland Art Competition for Schools and Families 2020. The aim of this competition is to encourage school children to interact with, and be 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, instructions on what to make, examples of materials that can be used and how the artwork will be judged.

Things to think about:

  • What is this boy playing with? Where is he?
  • What kind of doll does he have on the ground? How is it standing up? Do you think it moves or talks?
  • What kind of game do you think the boy is playing? Is he pretending to be someone else?
  • He is wearing very clean white clothes. What do you think might happen to them?



When the boy's family asked the photographer, August Sander, to take a photograph of their son he decided to take it outside rather than in a studio like most photographers did at the time. He is wearing smart clothes and showing off his best toys.

Things to think about:

  • What size do you think this toy is? Big enough to sit on or small enough to hold?
  • How would you play with it?
  • Would it move or make a noise?
  • What do you think it is made of?
  • Where would you play with it?



This caterpillar looks like an inflatable toy but it is actually made from metal (aluminium) and has to be hung up with thick metal (steel) chains. Jeff Koons, the artist, has made lots of sculptures of ordinary toys and inflatables. Some of them are absolutely huge!

Things to think about:

  • Look at all of the children. What toys and objects are they holding?
  • The children look like they are showing off their favourite toys. How do you think they will play with them once they relax?
  • The girls and the boys are playing with different types of toys. If you could travel back in time and show them one of your toys, which one would you choose?



Only 2 of the 5 children are girls. They are standing on either side of their mother. The baby and the children playing with the bow and arrows are boys. Boys would have worn dresses like their sisters until they were about 10 years old when they would have been given breeches (short trousers) to wear.

Things to consider

Here are a few questions to help spark the imagination.

  • What toys do you like playing with?
  • How do toys change for children as they get older?
  • Do boys and girls like playing with different toys?
  • If you were a toy-maker what would be the most exciting toy you could make?
  • Do you play with different toys when you are in different moods?
  • Are some toys for playing with alone and some toys for playing with friends?
  • What is the difference between toys for playing with inside and toys for playing with outside?
  • Can you think of noisy toys? Toys for building? Toys for pretending? Toys for cuddling?
  • What would your toys do if they all came to life when you were asleep?
  • Can you think of any stories about toys? The Nutcracker, Pinocchio, Toy Story



A picture of a toy or a group of toys. You could be playing with the toys or the toys could be playing together. It could be a toy that you have played with before or one that you have invented.


Any materials, techniques or processes (for example drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, photography, computer aided design, collage, montage) to make your piece as long as each entry is two-dimensional.
It can be any size up to A2 (60 x 42 centimetres).

Entries will be judged on:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Confident handling of materials
  • Boldness and impact

We are thrilled to be working once again with Scottish Ballet.

As well as helping us to select our own ten winning artworks, Scottish Ballet will choose some further pieces in celebration of their fantastic 2020 Christmas ballet. Scottish Ballet will have special treats for the winning young artists’ schools.


Curriculum for Excellence

Entering this competition can 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

Social Studies

I can compare aspects of people’s daily lives in the past with my own by using historical evidence or the experience of recreating an historical setting. SOC 1-04a

Entry form and guidelines

Entry process for families and schools:

  • Read the instructions for each category very carefully.

  • Schools are asked to select no more than 10 artworks per category for submission. You might want to invite another class to choose their 10 favourites. 

  • Send us your entries by completing the online entry form

  • Make sure that the name of each child is spelt correctly as no amendments can be made at a later stage.

  • Please submit images that are no larger than 10Mb and no smaller than 2Mb. 

  • Send files as JPEG format. 

  • Name the image file(s) with the name of the entrant and school name. 

Competition terms and conditions


Prefer to submit a group entry?

Groups, including families, of two or more children in any age group can choose from any of the themes in this year's competition and submit a group entry.

Find out more

Voucher applications for schools

To support art in schools, teachers are invited to apply for a free artist-led workshop for their class or £100 vouchers for art materials. Just complete the appropriate part of the online application form and submit it with your entries.

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]