The simplest way for your child to create a self-portrait is also probably the first with which they will experiment, either at home or at school: by drawing it. The concept is simple, but the results can be complex and eye opening.
Start with the materials that you already have at home like pencils (colored or plain old number 2), crayons, chalk, markers, or a variety of paints from watercolor to tempera to finger-paint. The choice of the medium can be the first opening to a conversation about the self-portrait: Is your child feeling bold and bright like the big fat markers or a little more quiet and subtle like the watercolors? What about the colors themselves? Do they say something about how your child feels about himself right now?
Beyond the tools to create a drawn self-portrait, you can also offer a choice of surfaces. Chalk or oil crayons look great on colored or black construction paper. A tempera or finger-paint self-portrait pops on a background of old newspaper (does your child choose the colorful funny pages or the tiny, even type of the classifieds?) Plain white paper plates are the right size and shape for your child to draw their own face. You could even do a series of faces showing your child expressing different emotions: this is how I look when I'm angry; this is how I look when I'm happy.
If you can get your hands on a large roll of butcher paper, you could help your child create a life-sized self-portrait. Have your child lay on the paper while you trace around her. She can then use her imagination to fill in the blank, body-sized canvas. A large-scale portrait will allow your child to include more details and give you more insight into how they perceive themselves.
Don't feel limited to paper though. You can pick up some inexpensive ceramic tiles at the home improvement store (or maybe you have some laying around from your own remodeling projects). These are great for self-portraits because they are easy to display. Add a few cork pads and you have a trivet or a coaster (add some clear lacquer or sealant to protect the masterpiece) or hang it on the wall. Tiles also lend themselves to a series if you plan to revisit this project over time.
However you and your child choose to approach this, drawing a picture of themselves will be fun, interesting, and rewarding for both of you.
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