Throughout the year, the Green Side (4 and 5 year olds) have been focusing on different projects centered around the idea of self-identity. The teachers have been thinking about different ways for the children to explore and express who they are. One way that this took shape was creating self-portraits. The children were given a mirror for this project and encouraged to take a few minutes to study their face. As they did this, I asked questions such as:
“What do you notice about yourself?”
“What kind of shapes make up your face? Your eyes, your mouth, your nose?”
“What colors do you see?”
The children really took the time to slow down and study their unique features and thought about how they wanted to represent them.
One thing that came up while doing self-portraits was the lack of skin colored oil pastels. Some children were okay with using green and pink to draw their faces, but others were looking for a color that matched their skin. We quickly realized there was only one shade of brown and one shade of peach. This sparked a conversation about the variety of skin tones. Vanessa explained, “We all need different colors because our skin in different colors.” James also shared, “We growed different with different skin.” I suggested that we could mix paint and make new colors. Many children were very excited about this idea and were quick to come be a part of this work.
In small groups, the children studied their skin and different paint colors to figure out which colors they needed to mix. They thoroughly enjoyed mixing the paint and testing the new color against their skin, adding more, and different colors as needed. The children seemed proud and excited when they felt that they had created a color that matched themselves. It is a special and unique color that truly belongs to the them and many children have even decided to name their blend! The children also had an opportunity to add their new paint color to a canvas, a place where they can see their color along with their peers.
Naming our colors…
“Light Brown”- James H.
“Rice Crispie”- Max
As a teacher, I feel that it is important to give young children opportunities to reflect about who they are and what makes them feel special, confident and unique. Self-portraits require the artists to reflect and ask themselves, “How do I see myself?” “How am I going to represent myself on paper?” These projects have also brought up wonderful conversations about diversity. What do we have in common? How are we different from each other?
I’m excited to continue this work and see where it will take us, as we continue to think of new ways to share about, and express who we are.
Chelsea has continued working with children in creating self-portraits that will become a biography book for the Green Side families. The stunning collection can be viewed in the slideshow below, or on the Green Side at Little Owl. Please feel free to come take a look at the meaningful and detailed portraits the children have worked so hard to paint. Can you see their individual sense of self shining through in their work? The “spark” of each child embedded in their thoughtful expressions?