Visual arts

NESA syllabus and support materials – units of work, student work samples and advice on programming

Australian curriculum work samples – portfolios of student work

Beyond the Dots

Sample unit starters

The following sample units have been created using the Creative Arts K–6 Syllabus and 'School planning for the creative arts' (NESA).

Me myself (DOCX 41KB)

Students investigate how artists depict people in portraits, with a focus on self-portraiture. They explore how colour, texture, line and shape can be employed to express ideas about themselves, producing drawings and paintings in various media using their own image.

No place like home (DOCX 40KB)

Students represent exteriors and interiors of their homes using a variety of two-dimensional techniques focusing on line, colour and texture. They explore shapes of the built environment, referring to their homes and artists' works.

Our animals (DOCX 40KB)

Students explore animals and their environments in drawing and sculpture. They experiment with various drawing media to show qualities of line, surface texture and the shapes of animals. Focusing on the skins and habitats of animals, students use media in a variety of ways to produce textures.

Places in imagination (DOCX 39KB)

Students create ceramic representations of an imaginary place. They experiment with a variety of simple construction techniques. Students discuss their own and others' works.

Beat around the bush (DOCX 39KB)

Students investigate a local natural environment and record their responses through drawings and photographs. They discuss how three artists respond to their environment and explore ways of incorporating direct experiences and artists' interpretations into a new work.

Ordinary, extraordinary (DOCX 118KB)

Students discover how artists represent the places where they live and work, as well as the objects around them. Students make drawings, collages, prints and paintings representing household objects. They record details of line and shape in drawing then explore combinations of shapes and textures in still-life collages.

The animal in me (DOCX 40KB)

Students represent themselves through drawing and monoprinting. They investigate how shape, texture and line can be used to express ideas about themselves as they make artworks that include the qualities of animals. They consider how artists construct portrait paintings and prints.

This sporting life (DOCX 40KB)

Students explore a range of poses and movements in different sports. They make linear drawings focusing on movement and direction. Students make collages that express ideas about athletes and movement.

Art rage (DOCX 41KB)

Students study colour, line, shape and texture through the artworks of Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky. They create abstract paintings and relief sculptures.

Figure it out (DOCX 42KB)

Students focus on the subject matter of the human figure. They discuss works by sculptors and investigate a range of materials and techniques to represent figures through guided reading and group discussion. Their investigations lead to experimentation in their own art making based on the styles of various sculptors.

In search of Monet (DOCX 39KB)

In search of Monet is presented as an adventure – a series of games where students imagine they are taking a trip to France to find out about Monet and his work. Through a range of forms and media, students create:

  • a trip diary
  • postcards
  • souvenir shop items such as T-shirts and shopping bags
  • a Monet exhibition and catalogue.

Still life with flowers (DOCX 116KB)

Students record information about objects through drawing and printing. They learn about still life represented in artworks by looking at paintings by different artists. The theme of still life is further explored in collages and paintings.

Transport transformations (DOCX 40KB)

Students investigate forms of transport including motor vehicles and aeroplanes. They consider possibilities for animating these machines, using selected artworks as a stimulus. Students focus on drawing for documentation then use drawings to develop ideas into decorative or expressive sculptures made from various media.

Evoking the environment (DOCX 39KB)

Students look at how artists have represented their environment in expressive ways. From their own environment, they document ideas in research drawings and develop concepts into paintings and weavings.

Face It (DOCX 39KB)

Students investigate the representation of the face in traditional and theatrical masks, considering how exaggeration and distortion of facial features creates expression that has meaning for an audience. They make drawings of faces, emphasising exaggeration and distortion and use these drawings as a reference for making a ceramic mask. They also make digital portraits and use software to manipulate images to exaggerate expression.

Mapping a place (DOCX 40KB)

Students investigate ways of mapping a place using symbols. They discuss how artists represent their environment in paintings and public sculptures. The students document their ideas in research drawings then develop concepts into sculptures. They also consider how concepts are represented differently in drawing and sculpture.

My identity (DOCX 65KB)

Students explore their own identity in an artwork. They seek inspiration in self-portraits by Australian painters who include symbols of their identity. Students combine drawing, painting, collage and printing in a mixed media artwork – discovering how artworks can be built up through layering images.

Unreal (DOCX 39KB)

Students consider how artists represent ideas and feelings in abstract artworks through the use
of symbols. Students develop their own symbols in response to dream images. They experiment with layering techniques in painting, drawing and fibre media.

Significant events (DOCX 40KB)

Students look at artworks that record and interpret Australian history. They discuss how artists create points of view through the way subject matter is organised and how colour and texture are used. The students make drawings, prints and paintings that represent historical events and Australian icons.

Steel, stacks and steam (DOCX 77KB)

Students use industrial sites and structures as stimulus to draw, paint, make prints and mixed media artworks.

Still life with lute (DOCX 115KB)

Students explore the aesthetic potential of musical instruments as subject matter in artworks. They refer to artists who represent musical instruments in artworks. Beginning with exploratory drawings, students progress to digital forms and paintings.

Waste as art

Developed with the support of the NSW Environmental Trust, Waste as Art provides a valuable and practical toolkit that explores waste reduction and other environmental issues through visual arts. The following resources provide the information, resources and inspiration that schools and teachers need to plan, develop and implement an engaging and rewarding Waste as Art project.


The following resources may be useful in the teaching of K–6 visual arts.

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