Thursday, February 7, 2013

In the Art Room: Kindergarten Self-Portraits as Artists

If you've ever been in art school, then you know there's always that one dude that's always givin' the girls that one look. Thankfully, on a kindergartener, it's rather cute.
 Greetings from kindergarten-land! My wee artists finished off these self-portraits last week and I'm so excited to share them with you. My kinder-artists create a self-portrait every year but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted them to portray themselves as artists, complete with apron, paint palette and brush.
Yes, that is a paint brush. Not...anything else it might resemble. Note to self: next year, have the kids paint the brushes brown to make them appear less doobie-esque.
 I began this portrait lesson as I do every year, with a reading of The Colors of Us. I love how the author chats about how we are all different and beautiful colors, even equating our coloring to delicious foods. After that, the kids return to their seats and trace a head shape onto their paper to which they add a neck and ears. From there they chose a color from a variety that is the color of them. Once painted, these are put on the drying rack until next time.
To the kids, I refer to this as Funny Faced Fred but behind his back, I call him Freak Face. Again, kinda reminds me of the creeper dudes in my art classes. I mean, just check out his myspace page (ha, made you look). Despite the crazy looks, this silliness really does teach them a great deal about expressions. And, of course, they love Fred.
 The following art class is spent looking at a variety of portraits. After chatting about those, I bust out Fred to talk about how we might portray our emotions. Once I give a demo, the kids set to work on their self-portraits with oil pastels. 

From there, we cut out the self-portraits from the original paper and glue to them to a 12" X 18" piece of white paper. We spend more time looking at ourselves in the mirrors to see how we might paint our hair. On our portrait, that is. Although we do our fair share of getting paint where it shouldn't be in Kindergartenland.
I know what you are thinking: What's with the blacked out teeth? Well, five years of age is when we start losing our teeth...and it is an event that must be documented. So we always block out our most recent tooth loses.

With our portrait portion complete, we move on to "getting dressed for art". The kids added a 12" X 6" piece of construction paper that they had rounded the shoulders and created a collar for. I recycled our messy mats and turned them into aprons that the kids glued to their shirts. 
Creating the paint palette turned out to be a wonderful review of color mixing and our friend Roy G. Biv. Once that dried, we added it, our paint brush (an art straw that we frayed and colored one end of) and a die cut hand (after three weeks in self-portrait town, I was not willing to spend an art class having them trace and cut out their own hands). 

Our last step was to recall our study of lines and patterns from the beginning of the school year. Using our tempra cakes, we decorated the background and, ta-da! one adorable self-portrait as artist complete. 

After we finished, I had this exchange with one of my students:

Little Dude: Mrs. Stephens, I am going to be an art teacher when I am big, just like you!

Me: Cool! And then I can retire and paint all day.

L.D.: What does retire mean?

Me: It means I don't teach anymore.

L.D.: But you can't do that! I am going to teach in the art room with you!

Well, shoot! How can I ever retire now? I mean, how much fun would it be to teach with one of your students? Well...on second thought...

Thanks for dropping by!


  1. This is a fabulous portrait lesson! Kudos to your kinders!

    As for teaching with your students, not so crazy. In my building are four of my former elementary students: the music teacher in the room next door, a kindergarten teacher, and a married couple: a 3rd grade teacher and her high school history-teaching hubby. And they've all been there for several years now,and I've taught two of their children as well!

  2. I think it is cute that Little Dude wants to teach with you ;) Looks like you had a fun time in self portrait land. More-or-less ;)

  3. They are really lovely, Its really cool to see how the kids view themselves and that they are so honest in their pictures (missing teeth and all!!). I love to see their masterpieces, very entertaining and cute!

    Thank you kindergarten-ers (is that a word?!)

    Jerra xx

  4. Anonymous2/13/2013

    So, I am a fifty six year old first year art teacher. First year teacher. It's a long story. I have been lurking on your blog and am compelled to make several comments and suggestions, some from things that happened a long time ago and may already be resolved.
    First, I love the projects you do with your kids and plan to steal them left and right.
    Second, bite the bullet and take the sewing class. Your stuff looks great to me, but if you are unhappy and you are a hands on kind of person, you are going to learn to put in a zipper much easier by a hands on technique. Speaking as someone who sews and is a hands on learner. Not only will you learn to do what you want, you will be with all kinds of creative people with great ideas PLUS every time you hear someone say, "Oh, no!" you can follow the teacher over and learn how to fix the problem. And people will give you their scraps for your class.

    Are you still trying to raise money for clay? Why don't you let teachers show a guest project on your blog for a small fee? I am never going to have my own blog, but I would pay twenty five dollars to occasionally have you showcase one of my projects and I bet everyone else would, too. My kids would love to see their work online!

    As I understand from the Idaho State Fair, the midway is not actually the carnival itself, but the main street of the carnival. Kind of it the middle of the fair or carnival, usually with the food.

    A friend of mind got a new teaching assignment last year which came with a storage room that had not been cleaned out for fifty years. She basically said, "Jane, you're old. Come over and see if you can identify some of this stuff." Among the candlemaking supplies were jewelry supplies from the fifties, including forms for broaches and the jewels to press into them. Would you like these? They are like the jeweled clip of the bird.

    Again, thanks for the great ideas!

    Oh, and PS, the behavior coach at our school is the older sister of one of my nanny kids.

  5. How did the students paint their skin color? What color paints did you give them, and what instructions were given to mix?

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