Hands On – Crafts for the Classroom

Ultan the editor of ‘Hands On – Crafts for the Classroom’ got in touch with me before we went back to school about this publication. Art is certainly not my strong point so I was excited to read about the books and delighted when the hard copies arrived in the post. My first impression was really good as I flicked through and saw lots of different ideas – all laid out expertly, easy for everyone to follow.


There are three books in the series;

  • Primary Printmaking (Órla Bates)
  • Ball to Bowl – Projects in Clay (Patricia Howard)
  • Exploring Fabric and Fibre (Mairéad Holohan)


What’s different about these art books?

The books are written by real artists who have vast experience working in their area but also working with children. They offer realistic art lessons that require items that are already available in our classrooms so theres no pressure to purchase expensive materials for one/two lessons.

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The Art Curriculum

The three books focus on the ‘tricky’ strands of the art curriculum. To be honest these are the strands I dread most – clay, print and fabric and fibre. I never know what to do and spend hours searching online and on Pinterest in search of something that will be ‘easy’ enough to complete and usually end up returning to the reliable lessons that I know how to teach like making a ‘pinch pot’ in clay.

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The Books

Each book has a similar layout;

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction to the series
  • Biography (on the author)
  • Introduction – sharing the methodologies that will be used
  • Lesson plans; learning outcomes, materials needed, and teacher preparation (which is a super help so that everything goes as planned) and the method section in steps.
  • Pictures – there are pictures of the steps in the lesson plans along with a finished project which are really helpful.
  • Glossary – all the key terms used throughout the book are explained here.

I really like the clear, well structured and easy to follow layout.


Primary Printmaking




Table of contents

The first few pages focus on ‘Texture’ – they give a clear definition and examples of texture as well as some lessons with a drawing focus to show texture.





The lesson ideas then move to taking rubbings and making ‘roller prints’ using practical homemade resources.

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The lessons then get a bit more complex catering for the needs of older children.


Ball to Bowl – Projects in Clay



Table of contents

Some of the lovely lessons (at different levels – to cater for the ages and abilities of the children in your class) – such a change from my usual pinch pots.

(Skill Level 1; ages 5 to 7, Skill Level 2; 5 to 9, Skill Level 3; 7 to 12. The skill levels are just a guide but this book has been designed to cater for children from Infants to 6th class.)

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Exploring Fabric and Fibre



Table of contents

Love the layout – the pictures are good to see where to start/ finish and the step by step is perfect.


Lots of great ideas – love this idea of ‘Fabric houses’ – perfect for a Christmas project.

Overall, the books are brilliant – a perfect set for those more tricky areas when teaching Art in primary school. They provide helpful tips and ideas as well as step by step lesson plans. They are written by full time ‘real’ artists who have extensive experience working with children.

You can find out more here – where the books are available to purchase.

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