Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students create a self-portrait that explains the environmental action they want to take. They begin by thinking about the parts of our environment that are important to them and the actions they can take to help these parts of our environment. Students will then explore why artists create self-portraits, and will plan and create their own self portrait that includes a message about the action they want to take to help our environment. Students will then work together to either create an exhibition or video to share their self-portraits and environmental messages with an audience.

Faber-Castell has long understood the importance of creativity to all people, especially to young people. It is also continuously searching for environmentally friendly processes and high-quality materials to enhance children’s creative experience throughout every development phase. For more information about Faber-Castell, click here.


Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand what actions we can take to help some of the different parts of our environment.
  • Students will understand why and how artists might create self-portraits.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 3 & 4 Visual Arts

  • Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks (ACAVAM111)
  • Present artworks and describe how they have used visual conventions to represent their ideas (ACAVAM112)

Year 4 HASS

  • The importance of environments, including natural vegetation, to animals and people (ACHASSK088)

Syllabus outcomes: VAS2.2, GE2-1, GE2-2, GE2-3.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 3 & 4 Visual Arts achievement standards: Students plan and make artworks that communicate ideas.

Relevant parts of Year 4 HASS achievement standards: Students identify the interconnections between components of the environment and between people and the environment.

Topic: Sustainability.

Unit of work: Creative Sustainability – Year 3 & 4.

Time required: 120+ mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion, oversee self-portrait planning and creation.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Art materials (cartridge paper, graphite pencils, erasers, coloured pencils/paints). Butcher’s paper. Marker pens. Sticky notes, or small pieces of blank scrap paper and sticky take. Self-portrait Flashcards. Self-portrait ExamplesColouring Techniques Handout. Pencil Colouring Techniques Handout

Keywords: environment, action, self-portrait.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand what actions we can take to help some of the different parts of our environment.
  • Students will understand why and how artists might create self-portraits.

Success criteria:

  • Students describe some of the different parts of our environment.
  • Students name one way to take action for different parts of our environment.
  • Students can use pencil techniques to create a self-portrait.
  • Students write an artist's statement.

Teacher content information: Sustainability describes the ability to keep going at the same rate and in the same (or better) condition as before. In order for our world to be able to sustain us, as well as the generations to come, we need to change. It’s time to think differently – and more creatively – about sustainability and the future of our planet.

Creativity and approaching challenges in a creative way has traditionally been seen as a natural gift, but in fact it can be grown just

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: If your self-portrait could talk, what would it say?

Self-Portrait Planning

The self-portrait you will be creating will need to incorporate a message about the part of the environment that is important to you and the action you will take to help this part of our environment. To help you identify your message, work independently to complete the following sentences:

1. The part of our environment that is most important to me is…


2. The action I will pledge to take to help this part of our environment is…


Once complete, you should team up with a classmate to share and discuss your ideas. Remember to be KIND, SPECIFIC AND HELPFUL when offering feedback.

You can then make any changes to your initial ideas, and you can use your final draft to help guide your self-portrait planning and creation.


Work independently to answer the following questions:

1. What was the most interesting or inspiring thing about this lesson and why?



2. What was mos

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