“I need to make my ears more like elf ears because the top is pointy!”

It’s one of my favorite times of year in the Pre-K Studio… self portrait week!  Friends in Pre-K work on a self portrait for their portfolio at the beginning and the end of each school year.  It’s great to see how much their observations and skills change over the course of the year, and for children that are in Pre-K for two years, over the span of both years.  We began by reading The Colors of Us by Karen Katz and talked a little about different shades of skin, eyes, hair, etc.

Next, I showed some different techniques for selecting colors that closely matched the colors that were unique to each of them.  Children selected colors that they thought would work after observing themselves in the mirror, and held them up next to their hands, hair, etc. to see which color would be the best.

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Declan: Oh my gosh, I look beautiful!  Look… I see I have two sharp teeth like a tiger.

Isaac: I have a bun on my head like you!

Mina: I found vanilla ice cream.  That’s my color.

Avery: I made my earwax.  No, no, my eyelash.

Asa: My lips are a little bit of two colors.  They are a little bit light and dark.

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Jax: I have hair.  I think it’s dark brown like this.  What’s next… oh… my mouth!

Nora: I made my head so big because I’m growing.

Adele: My skin is like vanilla, or maybe like sand?

Dayana: Let me find my color.  Oh, this looks good!

Joelle: I’m dark chocolate brown.  I drew my dark chocolate cheeks.

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Sammy: You have to look in the mirror to see what kind of skin you have.

Cesar: My eyes are different than my skin.  They’re darker.

Brandon: A mirror shows the reflection of your whole body.  And your whole face.

Julian: I made my head to look like a potato shape.

Alden: I have light brown hair and I have a swirl.  I’m drawing it long from the top of my head because I need a haircut.

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Beginning of the year self portraits are typically a one week process, but this year it seemed like a perfect opportunity to introduce children to self critique and adding detail. This week, children examined their self portraits and noticed parts of their face that they had forgotten to add.  This led us into a discussion on adding details, and how revisiting your work can make a stronger finished piece!  Friends found it hysterical that their self portraits almost went into portfolios when they were missing noses, ears, eyebrows, etc.

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Aurora: A detail is coloring in your skin.  And maybe I could add my dress!

Irvina: I can make my hair darker.  That’s a detail because last week I made my hair light!  I see different colors of brown on my cheeks, too.

Theo: Hey, why did I forget my ears?  It’s the same color as all my skin.

Africa Grace: A detail is when you add your color to your body so it looks like you.  And you can make your cheeks.

Santi: I forgot my ears… I gotta add them!

Isaac: I need to make my ears more like elf ears because the top is pointy.

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Naila: Details are maybe adding finishing touches?

Elizabeth: You need to add things to make it look more like yourself.

Bella: I’m adding more hair.  I didn’t put enough!

Drew: My detail changed!  I don’t have a dinosaur shirt on anymore.  Today I have a polo shirt with a horse on it.

Alina: Why did I forget to add my eyebrows?

Mateo: You could color in your face because your skin isn’t really white like the paper.

Katherine: Last time I did my skin peach, but I see my skin looks like peachy pie.

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Below are some finished self portraits, which show self reflection in making the work look more realistic.

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