Last year I decided to have the first graders draw a self-portrait for an end-of-year paper “quilt” collage. The students and teachers enjoyed it so we did it again this year and I was absolutely floored by the quality of work from our children!
We use Microsoft’s Paint program at our school and the students are introduced to it as young as kindergarten. What always amazes me is how well the children do drawing with a mouse. Try it sometime! It’s not easy!
This year we upgraded our operating system to Windows 7 so the Paint program is different than what we’ve been used to – more drawing choices and easier in some ways but a bit quirky in others. For example, there are more brush choices (a good thing). But one odd quirk we’ve all noticed is that sometimes the fill bucket doesn’t fill properly. It may only fill part of the area, leaving the edges in a different color. In such cases, the student has to carefully take a paintbrush and fill in the desired color. Rather frustrating!
To begin the self-portraits, I handed out small mirrors so students could check hair and eye color. I also distributed a square template so that all drawings would be the same size. We started with the background color. That seems to be one way to prevent the fill bucket problems. The next step was to draw a large oval for their face and we walked around checking each one – “Too small, try a bigger one.” “A bit large. You might not have room for hair.” We were drawing a “head and shoulders” shot. Then the students found a skin color to fill in their oval.
Eyes were next and we really spent a lot of time talking about how those look. I told the students we would draw one eye then copy it so the second one would look exactly like the first. The pupil, the iris, the white part (sclera) were drawn using the oval tool and then filled in with the fill bucket. Some students announced that their eye was finished and they were ready to copy it but I asked them to look closely in the mirror and tell what else they saw. “Eyelashes!” several announced. We decided that the pencil would work well to draw upper and lower eyelashes. By the end of the first class, almost everyone had at least one eye and they were beginning to draw the other facial features.
In our next session, we talked about eyebrows, noses, ears, neck, shoulders, hair. It took about 1 1/2 more 40 minute class sessions for all students to finish. The students did an amazing job – they were focused and worked hard to make their self-portrait look as close to their facial features as they could. I love how they filled the square with their drawing. Enjoy their wonderful work!
Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class Quilt
Mrs. Kee’s Class Quilt
Mrs. Orehek’s Class Quilt
I used the “Combine” feature of Photoscape (a free photo editing program) to make the quilt collages.
Hints for next year:
- Draw the neck and face in the same session and fill both with the skin color. If you do this in 2 sessions, the fill bucket doesn’t work correctly (it doesn’t fill the space completely).
- Make one eye then copy and paste it in the same session. Again, this is important for the fill bucket to work properly, especially if you have to add eye color to the second eye.