Early In the school year the children in my pre-k class draw a person using long and short lines, and big and small curves. The activity is guided by a teacher and pauses are taken before each part of the body is drawn. The end result tells us a great deal about our new students.
How well do they use the space on the paper?
Are they good listeners?
Are their lines steady?
Are their lines broken?
Are they detail oriented?
Is everything in proportion?
By the mid-year point the children are the subjects of their own representational drawings. I set up my materials at a small table where I can work one-on-one with students and we won't be disturbed. My materials include a standing mirror and a set of Pip-Squeak markers with a good range of colors that include skin tones. Before the children make their first mark I ask them "what do you see?" My goal is for each child to take a good look at themselves. I want them to draw what they see, not what they imagine a face should look like. I ask each child to choose a skin color. We look at a range of beige and brown colors. Then narrow down the choices to two skin tones. If necessary, I put the markers on top of their forearm if they need to see a comparison. Before they begin to draw I ask "what is the shape of your head? Is it a triangle? A square? " The children respond "it's a circle!" or, "It's an oval!" I continue asking what other shapes they see on their face. If they have any distinguishing features (a mole, etc.) I might ask them about those identifying marks as well. (The children may or may not continue to need verbal cues. )
As the self portrait develops they take on a life of their own. The child's personality comes through in their work. We also get a chance to assess each child's development through their work. Growth over time can be documented by comparing their self portrait to the representational drawing they did earlier in the school year.
A great follow up activity is to
collage a self portrait using repurposed cardboard