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PATTERN AND SHAPE : KS2 (Years 3 & 4)


In this activity, pupils will undertake a printing activity in which they will explore pattern and shape. They will use their time in the Museum to gather examples of patterns and shapes from a wide range of decorative objects in the British Galleries that they will record through drawing.


Art and Design
Exploring and developing ideas
' select and record from first hand observation..'
'collect visual and other information to help them develop their ideas…'
Investigating and making art, craft and design
'use a variety of methods and approaches in their own and others' work and say what they think and feel about them'
Knowledge and understanding
Visual and tactile elements, including colour, pattern and texture, line and tone, shape, form and space…'
QCA links
'Exploring pattern'


Here you will find some ideas to help you prepare yourself and your pupils for a visit to the British Galleries.


We strongly recommend that you visit the Museum prior to bringing your class. This will give you a much clearer idea of how you can use the galleries. We suggest that you familiarise yourself with the spaces in the British Galleries and the route to them from the Exhibition Road entrance. Spend some time finding examples of pattern and shape on objects in the British Galleries. The following galleries might be particularly useful:

'Adam and his Rivals' - (Repeating Ornament)Gallery 118
Chinoiserie 1760-65Gallery 52
Chinese and Indian styles 1800 - 1830Gallery 125
Influence of Japan 1850 - 1900Gallery 125
Influences from beyond Europe
(India, Islamic World, China)
Gallery 125
The Bromley-By-Bow RoomGallery 58
Williams MorrisGallery 125
The Norfolk Music roomGallery 52

Explore some of the gallery interactives. These have not been designed for use by school groups but you might find them useful for supporting information. The following may be useful:

Style GuideGalleries 54, 118, 120
Rubbing activity on classical ornamentDiscovery area 1714-1837
An Adam interior videoGallery 118

To find out more about some relevant displays and to view some images see supporting information.


The task for pupils in the Museum will be to gather examples of patterns and shapes in the British Galleries and to record them through drawing.

Get pupils to start a sketchbook for the project which they will use in their preparatory work and for their work in the Museum.
Ask pupils to collect some examples of pattern from home or outside. They could use their sketchbooks to record them.
Show pupils some examples of patterns and shapes from different times and cultures.
Discuss how patterns are made (carved in wood, painted, printed, moulded) and talk about the shapes they consist of (simple shapes, repeating patterns, pictures of things, e.g. plants and animals).
Divide pupils into three groups so that they can focus on different parts of the displays.
Group 1  -  Neo-Classical pattern
Group 2  -  Influences from other cultures
Group 3  -  Patterns in the Bromley-by-Bow and Norfolk Music Rooms.


Make sure your class has been divided into at least three groups as above. As well as those suggested above, there are many other examples of pattern and shape in the British Galleries so feel free to use other displays as well.

Pupils should use the worksheet available on this site to find and record examples of patterns and shapes. They will focus on identifying simple shapes, repeating patterns and simple shapes in more complex patterns.

Pupils could also take photographs of the objects on which they found their patterns.


Pupils could choose their favourite shape from those examples gathered at the Museum and use it to make a stencil from card.

They could then experiment with printing techniques and print shapes on fabric or paper to form repeating patterns.

Pupils' work could form part of a class display based on the patterns and shapes that were found in different parts of the British Galleries. You could display any photographs of objects from the galleries alongside the relevant patterns to show how pupils developed their ideas.


We are keen to get your feedback on this activity as well as any suggestions for other ways of using the British Galleries. Use the online evaluation form here

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