Store your resources in your very own folder.

Sign in or sign up today!

Find out more

October: Picture this

Add to My Folder

This content has not been rated yet. (Write a review)

By Tracy Kewleyfreelance writer and editor

Use an enticing image to boost thinking and creative skills

Tropical island

Island image © Julien Gron/

As suggested in last month’s Picture this article, a good way to introduce this lesson is to show the class the online version of the poster ‘Picture this: Island’ on your interactive whiteboard at the start of the lesson without any initial explanation. Allow for free discussion time as the children talk about what they think of the image, and then invite responses before continuing with the activities below.

1. Where in the world?

Ask the class if anyone can tell you something about the picture. What does it show? What things can the children see in the picture? Where do they think the picture was taken? Was it taken in this country? How do they know? If no-one has spotted the boats in the distance, point these out. Ask the children: What type of boats might they be? Who might be on board? What is the reason for their trip? Redirect the children’s attention to the sea. Ask them to imagine that they are paddling or swimming in the water. How does it feel? What do they think they would see if they put on a mask and snorkel and looked below the surface of the water? Tell the children that the water surrounding the island is probably home to a huge number of sea creatures such as sharks, turtles, eels and octopus, and hundreds of different types of fish.

2. What swims beneath?

Explain to the class that they are going to recreate the island scene with art materials but the class picture will have a special feature: the sea will lift up to reveal what swims beneath. Ask a small group of children to discuss how the island scene might be recreated with different materials – for example green feathers for the palm tree fronds, light-coloured sandpaper for the beach, driftwood or lollipop sticks for the tree trunks, turquoise fabric or shiny paper for the sea, and so on. Ask one or two groups to concentrate on making the island scene, using different materials. If possible ask an adult helper to support this activity. Invite all the other children to draw and paint a sea creature of their choice to add to the scene. These could be real species or the children’s own creations. You will need to make sure that there is plenty of room in the sea to include all the children’s work.

3. Island essentials

Tell the children to imagine that they are going to stay on the island in the picture for a whole week. There are no people, no buildings and no telephones on the island. In fact, they are likely to find little more on land than sand, trees, insects, birds and lizards. Explain that they can only take the clothes that they are wearing and ten other items of their choice, to share with a friend. What items will the children choose to take? Divide the class into pairs and ask them to discuss their ideas, then agree on and make a list of ten items. Before the children begin, talk about the things that we need to survive such as food, water, shelter and warmth. Point out the difference between needs (the things we need to survive) and wants (things that we can live without but that make us happy.) Talk about the children’s ideas in a plenary session and create a class ‘Top ten things to take to a desert island’.

4. Buried treasure

Tell the children that they have been on the island for a day when they come across a tree with a small X scratched into the bark. Ask the class what they think this might mean. If no-one puts forward the idea, suggest that maybe there’s buried treasure near to the tree. Can the children imagine what might be buried under the sand? Collect the children’s ideas and make a list of the items they suggest. Then, tell the class that they can choose between two activities: they can write or tell a short story about how the treasure came to be on the island (an opportunity for pirate fans in your class to really get creative!) or they can draw and paint one of the items of treasure to add to the island scene. You will need one group to create a chest to hold the treasure. When the children have finished, arrange the treasure in and around the chest and mount any written stories to complete your desert island display.