Share stories through art

Enjoy using art to tell tall tales! Whether you have paints or pencils at your fingertips, there are lots of creative activities to choose from.

Celebrate Scotland's Year of Stories 2022 by using art to share stories.

If you love sharing stories through art, check out our ideas for designing a mythical creature and our top tips for creating winter silhouettes of Scottish places. If performing is more your thing, have a look at our quick guide to putting on a shadow puppet show or get into character with our colour-and-cut story props. Enjoy getting creative!

Put on a shadow puppet show

You will need:
• Black card, a pencil & scissors
• Skewers/sticks & tape
• A cereal box or old picture frame
• Thin white paper (tracing/baking)

Step 1: Make your theatre.

Grab a cereal box, cut a window and cover the gap with white paper. 

Step 2: Make your puppets. 

Dragons, unicorns, knights or monsters - what will you make? Draw pencil outlines onto black card, cut them out and attach them to wooden sticks with tape. You can also create backdrops if you like. 

Step 3: Put on a show.

A light source, like a lamp, is all you need now. Darken the room, put the light behind your theatre and hold your puppets against the screen. If you can play music to add atmosphere, even better! 

Design a mythical creature

Lots of stories from Scotland involve mythical creatures - selkies (creatures that can change from seals to humans), kelpies (water-horses that can change into humans), faeries, brownies/broonies (household spirits) and many more! Another mythical creature linked to Scotland is the unicorn - which is also the official national animal of Scotland.

Can you draw your own mythical creature? What would it look like? Would it have the tail of a lion and the body of a snail? Or the head of an eagle and the tail of a whale? Perhaps it has magical powers.

Why not create a story around the creature you have created. Where does it live? Does it have friends or enemies? Enjoy building a story with your mythical creature right at the centre of the action.

Get into character with our story props!

Do you like making up stories and pretending to be the characters? Perhaps you'd enjoy being a fire-breathing dragon or a mysterious stranger. It could be that you see yourself more as a jester or a monarch. Or maybe you have a story in mind about a knight or a unicorn!

Whether you want to put on a play, dress up for Halloween or simply take some fun selfies, why not colour and cut out our story props! 

Winter silhouettes

Have a go creating a wintery silhouette of a real or imaginary place!

First use white, blue and black paints - or crayons of similar colours - to create a moody moonlit sky. Start with a white circle for the moon and then create circles that get darker and darker. Blend blues into your white to create a darker and darker blue. Then add in some black to get an inky blue.

Next cut out shapes out of dark paper to represent a real or imaginary place. We've some historic place silhouettes you can copy or print and cut out - Calanais Standing Stones, Dryburgh Abbey, Tantallon Castle, the Forth Bridge and Arthur's Seat.

Inspired by an art activity from Davidson's Mains Primary School.

Freeze frame comics

Comics are great fun to make. You can draw them on paper, or if you have access to a phone or tablet you can make freeze-frame comics by taking photos! To share your freeze-frame comic, either flick through the photos and narrate them out loud, or add written words to the photos either on screen or on print-outs.

Why not have a go at the tale of a couple of giants: The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built a causeway over from Ireland so that the two giants could meet.

Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he is. Fionn's wife, Sadhbh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him into a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants.

He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down.

Did you know? Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal's Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa - it's possible that the story was influenced by these landscapes.

We'd love to see your creations - do share them with us @histenvscot and tag our team with #LearningWithHES.

If you love stories, don't forget to look at our other 'inspired by the past' pages: