3D Art and the Art of Verbs: stage one

3D Art , a technique to use at different stages of target language learning

Here we are considering 3D Art as a way to explore present verbs with primary age children  .

I may use the same technique to explore adjectives or a range of tenses with more advanced KS3  learners 

I have always loved to link language learning and drama and find the primary classroom a place where we can explore both these aspects and be really creative !

I love to use Art as stimulus for great drama and language explorations and find that I can bring Art from the target language country to life through simple activities .

I call this work

"3D Art"

, taking a piece of Art and imagining and bringing the characters to life through performance and use of simple target language.

Simple rules

Select Art that has conversation and interaction running throughout the storyline of the picture .

Make sure there are enough characters for a group of six children to be able to select characters that they want to investigate

Set the scene by investigating as a class possible phrases in the target language that characters could be saying 

Practise voices that the characters might have 

Add actions to the characters and ask the children to think of signature actions for the characters.

Divide your class into mixed ability groups of six children maximum and make sure in each group you have a strong linguist and strong performers 

As you progress through the stages described below increase the amount of reference sources the children can use , so they can access powerful verbs and adjectives etc.

First you need your picture 

Here is one of my favourites : the Boating Party by Renoir 

The Boating Party Renoir

Stage One - Bring the picture to life in the round!

You will need at least two lessons to complete this series of activities well

I use these  activities mid way/ toward the end of the first year of target language learning .The children are confidently recalling and  saying verbal phrases and personal information sentences about themselves which all contain verbs in the present tens


e.g I am called / I live in / I am ...years old / I feel happy , ok , not so good 

The activities 

  1. Children work in their mixed ability groups of five or six
  2. Children  find a space away from their tables or in the hall to work as a group 
  3. Each group can access a A3 size colour picture of the painting
  4. Each child picks a character they think looks interesting.
  5. Each child needs to think of a name for their character . We will have already explored 3 target language male and 3 target language female names when practising saying names and looking at similarities and differences in names in our community and the target language community.
  6. They must work out either individually or working with a talking partner how to say the name phrase , how to say where they live, how old they are and how they are feeling . (You can make this a differentiated outcome task by allowing children the flexibility to decide how much they feel confident to say in the target language - all the statements or just some of them).
  7. Now they may like to find a prop e.g a hat / a cup / a glass / a toy pet etc and they must practise their poses so that they look just like they are in the painting itself . 
  8. Each child needs to consider the voice of the character by looking at the pose of the character in the picture and their expression etc
  9. Each child  in turn performs for a partner and then for their working group their characterisation of the character they have selected with the chosen actions they have given their character and the phrases in the target language
  10. The children now get into pose and create their version of the painting physically .
  11. Each character talks in turn from the left to the right of the picture .
  12. Now it's time to show the class . The groups sit around the room and one by one the groups stand , get into position for their painting and freeze frame exactly like the painting
  13. The teacher is the artist and flicks a better still a paint brush and the characters one by one come to life and perform in the target language .
  14. The teacher flicks a hand / paint brush a  second time and this time the children freeze frame with their favourite action they have created for their character .
  15. The next part of the activity is to bring the picture to life in the round . this means when the teacher flicks their hand or brush again she/he  points at a performer in the painting and they start to say their phrases and do their chosen favourite action over and over again until all the characters in the painting are speaking and moving ....we are now in the round and the teacher can pause characters or start characters up again!
  16. Now it's time for feedback from the other groups - two likes and one thing that the group could improve on
  17. Start the activity again with a second group
  18. Finally give the groups an A4 copy of the picture  on an A3 piece of paper and ask them to draw speech bubbles from their characters and add some or all of the statements in the target language of their characters .
  19. It makes a great sugar paper paintings book or a 3D Art display !