Artfully Montessori: Compiling A Classroom Album of Children's Self Portraits!


Self Portrait by Kymberlee (age 4yrs)
All photos in this article are by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The first weeks of school are usually focused on the children becoming familiar with the classroom procedures, schedules, and getting to know each other. It's always a great time to offer activities that enhance each child's self identity and art is a universal medium for a child's expression of self. 

In the Montessori Classroom, I love to feature famous artists throughout the school year. Picasso is one of my favorites and I personally think you could easily feature his work for the whole year! I think its interesting that Picasso had a personal collection of children's artwork. And, his artwork over his long lifetime evolved from a realistic  style through many changes and ended in his child-like masterpieces of his later years. 

This self portrait by Picasso was produced 
when he was 25 yrs old.

Photo of "Self Portrait" by Picasso from public domain
Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist as we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
This self portrait by Picasso was produced 
when he was 72 yrs old.

Photo of "Self Portrait" by Picasso from public domain

A really fun way to feature the children's self portraits is to set up a "Self Portrait Album." You can set it up alongside the tray for the "Self Portrait Work" on the shelf or art table. I have used the large size scrap book albums that you can find at Michaels or even CVS stores.

Here's a photo of some of the pages in a Classroom Self Portrait Album from a wonderful Montessori Preschool classroom a few years ago.

This photo shows the basic set up for the "Self Portrait Work" to have available for the children to create their little masterpieces. Don't forget the mirror!

A variety of materials can be available for the children's self portrait work. I have offered crayons, colored pencils, felt tipped markers, fine tipped markers, and even artist's charcoal. Later in the year after the children have had lessons with oil & chalk pastels, these can be added to the self portrait work.

One school year, I  set up a beautiful water colors tray that the children used for self portraits and it was available all year long. That album was a real treasure!

There was a 4 yr old in one group who loved to create "collage self portraits" by gluing thin sticks on card stock and adding yarn for hair and bits of cloth for the clothing. Needless to say, the other children fell in love with that idea and our self portrait album was fat and bulky that year!

The children (and their families) really enjoy looking through these albums and observing the changes in each child's self portrait art style. This classroom album can be a wonderful ice-breaker for visitors to the classroom and the children are very happy to show this special collection to newcomers.

Who can resist this lovely collection that reflects the personal style of each of these little artists! 

I am delighted to have you visiting my Blog and hope you are inspired to make "Self Portraits" a part of your early childhood environment, too!

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  1. These portraits are absolutely adorable! I am so inspired by this idea to paint a self portrait with my child. Thanks for an amazing art post! :)

    1. Love it, Vanessa! When I introduce this activity, I always start by showing the child/ren by drawing a self portrait of myself. The children are great at prompting me about the details I may "your earrings!'... or "Ms Carolyn, you have your sunglasses on top of your head..." I get a kick out of all that! I think this activity is not only a special treasure from the child, but aids in the development of visual discrimination skills. I should have included that important benefit in the writing of the article!

  2. Yey...I have to do this! Love the idea. Our twins love to paint and we encourage them to paint what they feel like whenever they want to. I remember the first day we brought home the isle and set them up with the paint station. They were about 2 years of age and they were painting for about 25 minutes in one go. And that very first painting is our favourite - something we will keep forever and ever. Actually, we keep all their paintings and drawings. I always put their name and date on it and ask them what is on the picture. They also recognize their paintings after months and months. It's truly amazing.

    1. LOVE your enthusiasm! Your little ones are so lucky that you cherish their art work. I am looking forward to seeing some of their art posted on your site! Thanks for your lovely comment.