Self portrait for preschoolers: Tips and significance of self-portrait to children

This entry was posted on March 27, 2024 by Karan Bahuguna.

A self-portrait, as is in the name, is a portrait art of a person drawn by themself. The art style of self-portraits started during the early Renaissance and has gained precedence in recent years. For kids, it holds even more importance for their growth than for adults.

Face Portrait

Credit: The Art Dream

Why Is Making A Self-Portrait Important For Preschoolers?

By making a child draw a child portrait, they gain self-awareness which also helps them with their fine motor skills. Looking at an image of themselves in the mirror as they try to paint the visual actively helps make children understand their facial structure and features.

Face Portrait

Credit: Cassie Stephens

For preschoolers, this is even more important as it gives them a perception of reality and provides their creative side a significant boost. This is because their cognitive abilities have just begun growing, and it allows us to get a fun view of their budding personalities and how they want the people around them to view them.

Goals A Child Achieves While Trying To Make Self-Portraits

As a preschooler starts making their first self-portrait, we must challenge them with specific questions and ideas to intrigue them enough to make the self-portrait ideas more than just a fun exercise. If done correctly, we can nudge children towards a more reflective state of mind that focuses on who they are and who they want to be. Some of the essential objectives are:

  • Asking the child what is important to them as they make the self-portrait allows them to prioritize, possibly for the first time in their lives, what they hold in the highest regard about themselves and what they would like to preserve within themselves for the future.

  • As this might be their first time dealing with art projects, asking them how they want to draw themselves or if they have a specific image in their mind that they want to represent on canvas is also an excellent way for them to delve into the field of artistic expression.

    Freedom of creative expression, as shown in self-portraits, is a tremendous feeling for young children as this is one of the first times they encounter an opportunity to do something with the limitlessness of their imagination.

  • Ascertaining the value they most want to represent in the self-portrait helps us understand their point of highest regard for themselves. Doing this allows the children to think about and express who they want to be. As they draw their visage on the canvas, asking the children what makes them happiest and saddest allows them to explore the complete spectrum of emotions they experience at a young age.

  • Gauging these emotional extremes boosts the emotional maturity of the child.

  • Giving children a more organic entrance into the art world and its history and augmenting their understanding of change and how it affects their surroundings.

  • Asking children to look carefully at their features before drawing and defining them. Physical introspection makes them think about their facial features and that everyone is different and beautiful.

What Is A Self-Portrait In Art Projects For Kids?

Self-portrait, being a subset of portraiture, is the first excursion of children into the world of artistic self-expression. It's also an excellent exercise for their fine motor skills and mental faculties. It gives them valuable insight into how everyone sees them as they live.

For preschoolers, unique self-portraits are the perfect excuse to spend time in front of a mirror and explore themselves. It also allows the young ones to answer essential questions about their life and what it holds for them.

Face Portrait

Credit: hello, Wonderful

Other than that, looking at the art aspect of it, the activity helps young children grasp their current aesthetic tastes and give their teachers information about how they like to look at life. By employing different colors in their self-portrait ideas, they understand what personality each color holds for them.

By cross-comparison, they know how other children view the same colors. If we look at the mental aspect of it, unique self-portraits give an immense boost to a child's personal expression, and judging the portrait, we can gauge just what their self-image looks like.

What Are The Materials Used For Making Self-Portraits For Preschoolers?

As self-portraits come in different formats, and the materials used to create them also vary. Suppose you have decided to make your art project watercolor paints-based, like Watercolor Child Portrait. In that case, the materials used are:

  • drawing paper

  • construction paper-optional (to give the portrait an Andy Warhol-painting aesthetic)

  • watercolors’ paints

  • pencil

  • black marker

  • eraser

  • paint brush

  • mirror

Suppose your art project aims at facilitating the toddlers to create sensory self-portraits; in that case, use the following materials:

  • Play dough (for the whole body)

  • dot stickers (for the eyes)

  • buttons (for the nose)

  • strings (for the mouth and hair)

  • glue

  • mirror

Another fantastic self-portrait idea in a fun activity that would appeal to the young ones is to create one by using objects that vaguely resemble the human facial structure:

  • pizza box (for the face)

  • googly eyes (for the eyes)

  • play dough (for the nose and ears)

  • pom poms (for the hair)

  • string of beads (for the mouth)

  • glue

  • mirror

Alternatively, use paper plate faces instead of a pizza box or butcher paper. A printed picture of the children can also substitute for a mirror. It will give them quite the thrill to show off their drawing to their family as well!

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What Makes A Good Self-Portrait Art?

While preschool is not the right age to gauge a child's drawing capabilities, it is crucial to let the children know and compliment them wherever growth is spotted. Similarly, rather than checking improvements in certain aspects of their picture, one should judge the portrait based on overall drawing technique improvement.

Face Portrait

Credit: Pinterest

Art is nothing but a mode of self-expression. When a toddler pours their whole being into their self-portrait ideas and tries to explore themself to the fullest, the result is art.

The quintessential ingredient of a good self-portrait is that it speaks to the painter/creator. By creating something deeply personal to themself, the little ones have fueled their creativity and have a piece of art to hold on to for the rest of their lives.

How Do You Make A Self-Portrait With Preschoolers?

When working with a group of children, it is crucial to gauge the personality of the class and see what the majority of the kids will like doing. In most cases, if the majority of the grouping is doing something interesting to them, the stragglers will also follow suit. Thus, to make the students draw, select the type of self-portrait activity that will interest most toddlers.

Another crucial step to remember when teaching preschoolers how to draw is that you should incorporate art into their daily schedule. Grant the children the freedom to do whatever they want with watercolors and paper. Doing this will familiarize the child with the art of making shapes with intent, and eventually, with enough scribbles on the paper, we can interest the little ones to start drawing and making art.

It is important to note here that encouraging the young ones about their picture, by asking positive questions like "Your picture looks great! Can you tell me more about it?".

Regularly compliment the preschoolers on their paintings and display them so that they attach value to the whole exercise. Refrain from criticizing an imperfect painting. Instead, point to the features that stand out to increase the kids' knowledge about their bodies.

Face Portrait

Credit: Artsparks Foundation

Also, pointing out intended intricacies in their painting is an incredible way to boost their self-confidence and think of more portrait ideas.

Face Portrait

Credit: Art Starts

Once the young ones are ready to draw the self-portrait, start by providing them with in-depth knowledge of each body part. However, instead of teaching kids oil painting directly or how to draw said feature, please encourage them to look at their photos or mirrors to find out what each piece looks like.

Face Portrait


Finally, leading up to the day of making the portrait, teach the children about famous artists like Van Gogh and exciting facts about art so that when they try to make their self-portraits, they have an inspired mindset.

Face Portrait


A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Self-Portraits For Kids:

To create a paint-based face portrait, here are the necessary steps:

Step 1: Provide the kids with a mirror and allow them to study their facial features.

Step 2: Tell the preschoolers to fold their drawing sheets or construction paper in half and draw their faces on paper.

Step 3: Advise the kids to start drawing specific features of themselves individually. So, starting with the hair, move downwards and help the children maintain symmetry using the center fold.

Step 4: Ask the kids to use the black marker to outline everything they have drawn.

Step 5: Let’s start painting! Let the children get creative with their coloring but advise them to color within the outlines and to use their brushes.

Step 6: Set aside the self-portraits so that they can dry.

Face Portrait

Credit: hello, Wonderful

To make a sensory-based face portrait follow these steps:

Step 1: Let the kids study their body parts in the mirror and choose suitable supplies.

Step 2: Provide the children with play dough and ask them to divide it into equal parts.

Step 3: Tell the kids to use each piece of dough to create their body parts and create a slightly larger face.

Step 4: Attach all the body parts and facial features using the dot stickers, strings, and buttons. If using dot stickers, ensure that the child’s eye color matches the stickers.

Step 5: Add the strings to the top of the face to make it look like hair.

Face Portrait

Credit: Fantastic Fun & Learning

Here’s how to make a self-portrait more interesting:

Step 1: Let the preschoolers analyze their faces in the mirrors.

Step 2: Draw the shapes of their facial features on the pizza box or paper plate and apply glue on the googly eyes and string of beads.

Step 3: Attach the pom poms on top to make them look like hair.

Step 4: Create a hole where the nose is supposed to be and fit the play dough in it.

Face Portrait

Credit: No Time for Flash Cards

What are the benefits of self-portrait activity?

A self-portrait activity provides a fun and expressive way for a child to exercise their fine motor skills and encourages creativity. It’s a constructive way of self-discovery that allows the child to be comfortable with their being. Every style of self-portrait offers its benefits as well:

Paint-based self-portraits enable the children to understand art at its core. It lets them put some real work into recreating themselves on paper so that they can gauge how their facial features go together.

Face Portrait

Credit: Art for Small Hands

When the little ones create self-portraits like this, it also boosts their individuality. They can understand what makes them physically different from other kids.

In the case of sensory self-portraits, there’s an immense benefit to the child’s senses. Including many different ways to use colored play doughs allows for a fantastic visual and cutaneous experience. It’s also a unique and fun exercise for fine motor skills. Toddlers can endlessly customize self-portraits to fit their imagination.

Face Portrait

Credit: Pinterest

Due to the customizable nature of self-portraiture, finding increasingly exciting ways to make new ones will keep the children perpetually interested in the activity and teach them that there are multiple solutions to most problems. The paper plate faces also make it very easy to help toddlers understand the positioning of different facial features.

For preschoolers, a self-portrait makes for a fun group activity and can teach the younger kids about diversity and how their values and ethics might differ from that of others.

Most of all, the art of introspection is taught well by self-portraits. For younger children, this is essential in character building and allows them to discover their nature and decide how they want to present themselves to the world.

Staying consistent with art like self-portraits will help children understand growth and pay attention to how their features change with time. They can also reflect on their progress in portraits.

Exposing the child to the highest level of expression will ensure that they have a productive hobby for the rest of their lives and also teach them how to express themselves through immensely creative projects.

We hope that the preschoolers have a fun welcome into art!

While it takes years to gain advanced skills in art, self-portraits are unmatched in initiating youths worldwide into the craft. Thanks to you, the tips and tricks in this article should get a few more children interested in the wonders of self-portraits!

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