Ten Tips for teaching Art to your child-for the non-artist parent

If you are a parent who sees artistic potential in your child or children but are at a loss as to how to help them develop their artistic skills further, then this is the article for you.

Tip 1:Believe that it is a basic part of human nature to be creative and that you and your children have every right to be creative because Art is not exclusive. (If you do not believe this yet, then pretend to for your children’s sake!)


Tip 2:If you have very little formal artistic skills yourself, it’s not a problem. Find one of many great online tutorials that can teach you and your children how to draw. Here are just a few: How to draw a nose, How to draw a Spinosaurus, How to draw a butterfly, How to draw a dragon’s eye

Tip 3: When your child does a piece of art work train yourself not to automatically say ‘Wow, that’s so amazing darling’. Take a look at this fantastic clip called Austin’s butterfly and try giving feedback that actually means something and shows you’ve taken the time to really look at their art.

Tip 4: Keep sketchbooks and date work. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as looking back over art work and seeing how much you’ve improved since the first drawing.

Tip 5: Let children follow their own inspiration! If Jonny loves snakes and you have a snake phobia, you’ll still have to support Jonny when he draws snakes because you don’t want to pass on your fear of snakes. Remember, it’s passion that gets artists through difficult times.

Muhyi snake

Tip 6: Encourage your children to embrace mistakes. So frustrating when they know what they want a drawing to look like and their hands just won’t do it! Learn about Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and the power of using the word ‘yet’. Mistakes are not a catastrophe, they are part of an essential process towards a goal. Your brain develops most when you make a mistake and learn from it, so teach your child to be pleased when they make a marvellous mistake and explain that they are just not quite there yet.

Tip 7: For ways to create fun opportunities for Art linked to story books read this article.

Tip 8: Let your children take photos. Imagine you go to the zoo on a family trip but they’re just too excited to sit and draw any of the animals there. Well that’s where many artists would take several photographs of their favourite animal for later use. On a rainy day you can get the photos up on a computer or ipad and draw from them. Here are some photos my son took when we went to Crocodile world.


Tip 9: If you have an ipad or tablet then download Photoeditor. Let your children experiment with editing a photo they took. Art can be digital as well as drawn with pencil and paper. Here are some digitally edited photos done by 7 year olds I’ve worked with.

Tip 10: Get children out and about and do some Art outdoorsLand Art or at a museum.

Here are some pics of Land Art I’ve done with my children.

I hope this gives you some helpful advice to get started and perhaps once you get going you’ll have some inspiring ideas yourself that you’d like me to put up on this post for others to see.

If you have photos you’d like me to share then please send them to a.henckel@hotmail.com and add any short notes or tips you’d like me to add alongside them.


Islamic symbols, Hand of Fatima & creativity with children



This is a lesson I took with 60 Yr 5 children (two classes), we were studying pattern and symbols. They had already used patterns to create a Space illustrationillustrated traditional tale book cover, and had visited a woodland to photograph and study patterns in nature. This final lesson was based on the patterns and symbols of traditional tribal art and body art.


We looked at several different cultures that use patterns on the body including some of these: Aboriginal Body Art, African Tribal Art, (Here’s an interesting link-read it first before showing anything to children), African Tribal Scarification, Moroccan Henna-‘lucky eye‘, Moroccan Henna symbols and their meanings.

We discussed the reasons why certain tribes around the world use body art, including at initiation ceremonies, to identify tribal members, to communicate an idea or belief e.g. in certain gods, ready for marriage, becoming a mother etc. People also use it to communicate with the spirit world, at certain ceremonies, for war ceremonies, protection from evil spirits, good luck, family tradition.

I told the children that we would be using Arab (Moroccan) henna patterns to inspire us and that we would make our own ‘Hamsa’ or Hand of Fatima. We explored what the hand of Fatima means and also looked at the ‘lucky eye’ that is very popular in many mediterranean countries.

Hamse, Khamse, Hand of Fatima & ‘Evil eye’


Edward’s Hamsa

For those unsure, the Hamsa has significance for Muslims and Jews. Some believe that it will protect them from evil, especially those evils that others might feel towards us like jealousy, envy and hate. Others (the more religious) believe that it is a beautiful symbol reminding them of the purity and goodness of Fatima (the Profit Mohammed’s daughter), but these people do not believe that it will protect them, as only God has the power to provide protection.

Often the Hamsa and the ‘evil eye’ or lucky eye are put together to add double protection against evil spirits, as well as jealous or envious persons.


2 Hamsa templates.

I drew the Hamsa template (this is quite easy if you fold a piece of paper in half and draw half of the Hamsa along the fold, then cut it out-still doubled over so that when you open it out you will have a full Hamsa shape. Now all you need to do is draw the sections for the fingers, and palm with a ruler.) Photocopy this for each child, they will need two Hamsa hands each. Here’s an example of an already decorated Hamsa.

3 thicknesses of black pen (eg Berol fine handwriting pen, broad Berol pen, thin and thick felt tip).

Limited colour palette of thin and thick felt tips if anyone wants to use colour.

Photocopies of some relevant patterns, symbols and meanings for each table to use as reference material.

Inspiring images on Interactive White board.

String/thick thread

Hole punch

Scrap paper

Pritt stick/glue stick and scissors.

1 tube of Henna paste per table


I set children off using the different sized pens to explore and adapt the patterns onto their own two Hamsa hand templates. They could use the patterns as inspiration as well as bringing in their own ideas and bringing in previously explored patterns and symbols.

While they were doing this one or two people on each table had a go at as much or as little henna on their own hands as they wished. Some girls were from cultures that practice the art of henna and offered to paint it onto their friend’s hands. Other children wrote their initials on their hand or copied the ideas they were doing on their Hamsa drawing.


While the children were creating they also listened to traditional Arab music including this and Arabian Nayy (flute).

Here are some more images of their work in progress.





IMG_0422 IMG_0425 IMG_0420 IMG_0419 IMG_0418 IMG_0415 IMG_0413 IMG_0412

Here are now some of the more finished Hamsa’s before they have been put together.IMG_0417 IMG_0426


The final step is to cut out the two Hamsa hands and glue them around the edges of the palms.

Punch a hole at the base of the longest middle finger.

Stuff some screwed up pieces of scrap paper in between the two partly glued hands to fatten them out.

Then glue them both shut-trapping the screwed up bits of scrap paper inside them-make sure the two hole punched holes are aligned.

String some thread/string through the holes and tie in a knot so that you can hang the Hamsa up.

Here are some images of the final pieces.



I hope this lesson is helpful to anyone planning an Islamic, RE, Eid lesson. If you do use this idea then please email me photos of your classes work and hands, so that I can add it onto this blog post.