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Home > teachers > Art and Design  > Teacher's Notes for Face It!

Teacher's Notes for Face It!

Face It! is an online exploration of portraiture designed for KS2 (or upper KS1) children. It's interactive and engaging with instinctive, visual navigation and a non-linear layout - giving children a sense of control over their learning experience.

Face It! was developed in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery.

Shows a screenshot from Face It! A portrait of Queen Elizabeth hangs in a virtual gallery, surrounded by buttons, text and detailed inserts.

Photo: Good Queen Bess is one of four portraits the children can explore on Face It!

© 24 Hour Museum.

The Art

The site is based on four portraits from the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

The paintings range from a portrait of a modern sporting icon painted in 1991, to pictures commissioned in Tudor, Hanoverian and Victorian times. They are:

Sir Bobby Charlton by Peter Edwards, 1991

Catherine Maria (Kitty) Fisher, by Nathaniel Hone, 1765

'Choosing' (Ellen Terry) by G.F.Watts, circa 1864

'The Ditchley Portrait' of Queen Elizabeth I by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, circa 1592.

The Activities

Children can choose to:

explore elements of the paintings' symbolism and colour

read about the sitters, artists and context of the paintings

see close-up details of the paintings

create digital portraits of their own

write their own gallery labels and stories to accompany those creations

feel the outlines of the paintings when the line drawings are printed on a raised image printer

print out their stories and digital images as a record of their visit

print out line drawings of each portrait as a colouring-in activity.

Photo: this shot from the 'Create' section shows a work in progress...

© 24 Hour Museum.

Shows a screenshot from the Face It! game. We can see a man's head and shoulders, a black cat and a yellow globe behind him. At the side of the screen is a list of icons, a black cat, a necklace, a yellow globe, a silver globe, a fish in a bowl and half a rose.

Access Provision

Face It! makes innovative provision for children with visual impairments.

Accompanying each portrait is a line drawing. These are developed in close consultation with the National Portrait Gallery's Access Officer and based upon images she uses with visually impaired visitors to the Gallery. The line drawings can be printed out on a raised image printer as a tactile image.

We've also developed 'word pictures' - descriptions of each painting written specifically for children and designed to give them a real impression of the painting and its sitter. When used together, the drawings and the descriptions are an effective way of maximising access for children who might otherwise miss out.

Shows a line drawing in black on white. A young girl with long hair is drawn in profile. She's holding a flower to her nose, has more flowers in the other hand and flowers behind her too. She's wearing a dress with large puffed sleeves and a pearl necklace.

Photo: this is the line drawing of Ellen Terry, as used in the gallery.

© National Portrait Gallery, London.

Ideas for Classroom Use

There are many ways in which Face It! could be used as an effective and inspirational teaching tool. Here are a few ideas and user tips to start you off.

...Use as a starting point for children's artwork and the study of artists' work, thinking about textures, colours, symbols, and composition in one or more of the featured paintings.

...Let the children loose on the site with a set of simple questions to answer, tailored to your topic. They could record their answers online, using the 'story' page in the create section.

...Print out the word pictures that accompany each painting and laminate them, keeping them by the computer for ease of reference.

...Use as a catalyst for a drama lesson - have the children imagine and improvise scenes around the painting of the portraits. For Ellen Terry's painting for instance they could play Ellen, GF Watts, a lady's maid or friend helping Ellen dress, the florist providing the flowers and so on, imagining what could have happened before, during or after the painting of the portrait. All four sitters' lives and situations lend themselves well to this.

...Have each child design and name an imaginary character using the create section and then write a story to accompany the image. The collection of characters is then woven together to populate a class storybook or gallery.

...Use sets of portraits created by the children to create a visual matching game - cut the print outs in half and laminate them before mixing and matching the images.

...See if the children can find the visual joke of the fishing kitten on the Kitty Fisher portrait, and set them the task of designing images to symbolise their own names.

...Using the Bobby Charlton portrait as a starting point, think about the portrayal of movement in art - have the kids think of and find other examples - cartoon characters dashing across the page, swirling storms and crashing waves in landscapes and so on.

...Use the Ditchley portrait as a starting point for a 'Class Detectives' research topic, based on questions the children come up with themselves. For e.g. - how did the Tudors make face powder? How did Elizabeth's collar get so stiff? What did maps of the world look like at that time? What does the writing in the picture say?

We would welcome any feedback or further suggestions. Please use the Get In Touch page.

Anra Kennedy.