Monkey Puzzle



This lesson was produced by a university student majoring in Primary Education. The children will learn about Keith Haring and his work and create inspired work in different materials.


To introduce children to the life/work of Keith Haring.
To create art inspired by Haring's work using and experiencing different materials.
To verbally communicate ideas and feelings of work produced over 4 lessons.

Resources Pictures of Haring's work


Copies of Haring's art work
A4 & A3 black sugar paper
White chalk
Digital camera
A4 white paper
Mod roc
Wire cutters


Starter (10 minutes)
Explain to the class that we are looking at the work of Keith Haring and that over the next four lessons we will be reproducing/imitating some of his artwork and producing an anthology of his life and work which will be displayed in the classroom with our own artwork and photos taken by the children as they work. By having a display in the classroom, I can establish if the learning objectives are achieved, it allows for discussion and it offers evidence of children's achievements.

Main (35 minutes)
In the ICT suite children will access Some of Haring's work is inappropriate for children and this is the only website that they will be allowed to view. Children are to work in pairs using appendices 1 and 4. By knowing about the artist, the children will increase their 'understanding of context and convention' of his work. (Callaway, G. and Kear, M. 1999:p13).

Plenary (15 minutes)
Back in the classroom, the children will each hang A4 black sugar paper around the classroom and, using white chalk, produce a piece of art similar to Haring's subway drawings in 6 minutes. To reproduce working in the subway an emphasis will be given to the limited time that they have to produce the work, as did Haring in case he was caught by the underground police. A fixative will then be applied to the chalk drawings. As a class we will discuss our likes/dislikes about Haring's work.

Starter (20 minutes)
Discuss with the class and show them a picture of the monkey-puzzle tree. (Appendix 4a). Then show the children 'Monkey Puzzle.' Do the children think there are any connections between the two? Explain when 'Monkey Puzzle' was produced; discuss content, form, process and mood. It is important to discuss these matters as 'insights into the cultural and social context, the chosen form and the range of possible meanings conveyed' help with the interpretation and enjoyment of the work itself [and]...inform the pupils' own work by enlarging their vocabulary.' (Prentice, R. (Ed).1995:p32).

Main (30 minutes)
- Children to each draw and cut out a circle (approximately 30 cm in diameter) on black A3 sugar paper.
- Children to design and cut out monkeys (or a design of their own choice) on white paper. If the children are not given a choice to use their own designs it is giving them a message 'that their own responses to stimuli are not valid.' (Callaway, G and Kear, M. 1999:p40).
- Decorate designs (in Haring's style) using available material.
- When completed, arrange and stick onto black background.

Plenary (10 minutes)
After tidying away, ask the children:
- How does their finished artwork compare with their expectations of the work?
- What challenges did they come across and how did they solve them?
- Can their work be improved?


Starter (10 minutes)
Using their artwork from the previous lesson children will reproduce one of their designs as a sculpture. Children will be given a choice of whether to use wire and mod roc and/or cardboard boxes, etc. I will demonstrate how to use the wire and mod roc, also pointing out health and safety issues, such as, keeping equipment away from their faces, covering clothes and taking care with the water. We will discuss the scale of the piece to be produced, so that clear guidelines are set. I will also have checked records to see if there are any children with respiratory problems because of the fine dust that mod roc produces.

Main (40 minutes)
Children to make their 3D design. Adults will assist where necessary and ask appropriate questions to extend the children's vocabulary and learning. For example, in what ways can they improve their work?

Plenary (10 minutes)
Having tidied away, the whole class will discuss their likes/dislikes and the challenges of working in 3D compared to 2D. When children master skills, it is important that 'they use them as a vehicle for communicating ideas, meanings, feelings and perceptions.' (Prentice, R. (Ed). 1995:p34).

Starter (15 minutes)
Show children pictures of Haring's sculptures on IWB, pointing out bright, monotone colours and how Haring continues with the simple linear forms that he used in his drawings. (Appendix 5). Ask children for their opinions of the sculptures. Responses will be recorded on IWB to add to anthology. Without classroom discussion and critical analysis 'the quality of making is impoverished because ideas are not formed as fully as they might be, influences are not exploited and potential stimulus is ignored.' (Prentice, R. (Ed). 1995:p39).

Main (20 minutes)
Children to paint sculptures in one colour (of their choice) and then clear away.

Plenary (25 minutes)
Review what the children have learnt about Haring, using research from lesson 1. Have the children's feelings about the artist's work changed? Which activity did they feel most comfortable with? Responses will again be recorded on the IWB.

All children's work to be displayed in the classroom to show the life and work of Keith Haring.


- When and where was Keith Haring born?
- Note some interesting facts about his life before he moved to New York.
- Where did Haring do his chalk drawings?
- What is the significance of the "radiant baby" picture?
- What is the name of the two shops Haring opened? What did they sell? Why did some people in the art world not like the shops? How were the shops decorated?
- Can you find any other interesting facts about Haring?
- Do you like or dislike Haring's art? Give reasons.
- Print out a picture of a piece of artwork (referring to the teacher first, so that we get a variety of pictures).


photograph of Haring in the Pop Shop, Man Holding Baby image, Radiant Baby image, DJ Dog image, Pyramid triptych subway drawing, Blind Man triptych subway drawing.

National Curriculum References
Pupils should be taught to:
1c - collect visual and other information to help them develop their ideas.
2a - investigate and combine visual and tactile qualities of materials and processes and to match these qualities to the purpose of their work.
2b - apply their experience of materials and processes, including drawing, developing their control of tools and techniques.
2c - use a variety of methods and approaches to communicate observations, ideas and feelings, and to design and make images.
3a - compare ideas and methods and approaches in their own and others' work and say what they think and feel about them.

Pupils should be taught about:
4a - visual and tactile elements, including colour, pattern and texture, line and tone, shape, form and space and how these elements can be combined and organized for different purposes.
4b - materials and processes used in art and how these can be matched to ideas and intentions.
4c - the roles and purposes of artists working in different times and cultures.

Pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through:
5b - working on their own, and collaborating with others, on projects in 2D and 3D.
5c - using a range of materials and processes, including ICT.
5d - investigating art in a variety of genres and styles. (Source:DfEE 1999:p120/1).

The monkey-puzzle tree has a regular dome-shaped crown of downwards-pointing branches set with pointed leaves. Its name derives from the belief that monkeys have difficulty climbing it. It is the nearest living example of the trees of the Carboniferous period, about 300 million years ago, which gave us our coal.

Coniferous evergreen tree, native to Chile; its branches, growing in circular arrangements (whorls) around the trunk and larger branches, are covered in prickly, leathery leaves. (Araucaria araucana, family Araucariaceae.)

In May 2000 wild monkey puzzle trees in Argentina were placed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I, which bans all trade in the species.