Draw Your Self-Portrait Activity

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Updated on Oct 8, 2012

Portraiture has been used for centuries by various cultures to visually depict people and to show off a significant aspect or attribute of the person being represented. In this life sized self-portrait activity, encourage your child to explore what makes him special, and then portray it through art!

Creating a self-portrait is a great way for your child to increase self-awareness, build body part recognition skills, and develop fine motor abilities. Additionally, the large scale of the portrait is a fun change from the usual crayon or marker drawing.

What You Need:

  • Large paper such as butcher paper
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Tempera paints
  • Large paintbrush
  • Yarn
  • Glue

What You Do:

  1. Have your child lay down on the large piece of paper. Ask him to think about the position that his body is in. Encourage him to be creative in positioning. For example, if your child loves to play tennis, ask him to form a tennis action pose. Once he has chosen a suitable position, trace the outline of your child with a crayon or washable marker.
  2. Now your child is ready to create his self-portrait. Start with the face. Ask him to draw all his facial features with crayons or markers. Name and count each of the eyes, ears, and other parts of the face.
  3. Add hair. This can be accomplished with either paint or yarn and glue.
  4. Have your child “dress” his self-portrait. Using paints and the large brush, ask him to create clothing that is similar to what he would wear regularly. Another option is for him to create a painted costume based on what he would like to be. He can be as imaginative as he wants. Examples may include fireman, dancer, cowboy, or police officer.
  5. Set the self portrait aside to dry. If the paint is very wet and/or runny, make sure that the self-portrait is laying on a flat surface.
  6. Once dry, use scissors to cut along the body tracing outline.


Make it a family portrait, and get moms, dads, brothers, and sisters involved in creating their own individual self-portraits that can be displayed together as a group.

Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

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