Behind the Scenes: Our Illustrating the Curriculum Family Learning Resources

Illustrator and educator Toya Walker tells us about the home learning resources she's created for House of Illustration.


  • Learning

Illustration: the perfect tool for cross-curricular learning. Why? Because in order to communicate information visually, you first have to understand it yourself.

Our six free downloadable Illustrating the Curriculum learning resources enable you and your family to use illustration to get your head around all kinds of different subjects, from biology to English.

These resources introduce home learners to some of the techniques and materials used by professional illustrators. You can use these techniques to explore other subjects, inspire creative writing and storytelling, or just as importantly, to have fun!

The ideas for the resources have been developed through House of Illustration’s work with schools and families over the last ten years and tested and adapted for home learning environments thanks to the patience and enthusiasm of my own children aged 7-13 (and some other helpful collaborators).

Here's what you can expect from Illustrating the Curriculum:

Botanical Illustrations

In this activity, you'll be drawing and painting plants, developing careful observation skills as well as greater knowledge of the plants themselves.

Make Your Own Story Tile Game

You won’t need any specialist art materials or skills for this one. This game is all about stimulating your imagination, inspiring your inner storyteller and banishing any fears of being “bad at drawing”.

Pencil Skills

Don’t forget the humble pencil! It often gets overlooked in the rush towards fancier things but it’s one of the most versatile materials out there, which is handy as almost everyone has one somewhere at home. These exercises will help with drawing skills, pencil control, confidence and even handwriting.

Atmospheric Buildings with Stick and Ink

Ink is another brilliant material for drawing. As you can’t rub lines out, it encourages boldness with often beautiful results. The perfect tool for mark-making with ink? A cheap, snapped-in-half bamboo stick. In this activity, you’ll use your newfound ink skills as a book illustrator just like our founder Sir Quentin Blake, setting the scene for a story with a building of your own invention.

Expressing Emotion in Pictures

Illustrators use all sorts of techniques to help show how the characters in their pictures are feeling. In this activity, you’ll try some of them, exploring positive and negative emotions and the different ways we might express them ourselves and in our pictures.

Painted Collage Creatures

This is an activity of two halves: making your own collage papers by mixing up, scratching and splodging whatever paints you have, and then using those papers to invent and make characters. These two activities give you the opportunity to explore colour mixing and scissor skills and, most importantly, to engage your imagination.

One of the liberating things about illustration is how it can help you let go of any perfectionism that’s stopping you from taking that first step in being creative.

You don’t need to make “perfect” artworks in order to make brilliant illustrations that do a great job of visually communicating something – and that’s something we can all benefit from remembering, whatever our age.

Download the Illustrating the Curriculum resources now and share your results using the hashtag #IllustrationInHouse.

These resources were adapted from our resources for teachers by Toya Walker, made possible by Arts Council England's Emergency Response Fund.