Body Tracing and Painting on a Rainy Day

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Why is body tracing so popular with little kids?! Maia just loves it. She loves it when I trace her body with chalk outside. And she loves it when I trace her body on paper inside. So today when I asked her if she wanted me to trace her body (inspired by Lucia’s post on body art with her art group), she was super excited.

Last time I posted about body tracing, Maia was really into body parts and drew in her heart, intestines, veins, and arteries. This time her painting was more decorative. We even re-read her book, See Inside Your Body, at her request, but she still focused more on faces and clothes and just painting.


First I traced her body. And Daphne’s. And then Maia’s two more times. Maia loved it. Daphne didn’t.

I was kicking myself today for not shelling out money for a roll of butcher paper. But every time I almost buy it, I look at the price and cringe. Why does it have to be so expensive? So instead, I pulled off some paper from Maia’s easel and taped two long pieces together along the back to make the paper big enough.


Maia drew in the features on the bodies with oil pastels.


And painted them to varying degrees with tempera paint. We brought the double sided paint cups into the living room, using a cake tin as a caddy.


Maia went to town with the paint!


When she finished, she hopped up and said, “These paintings are awesome! Amazing!” Then she said that she’s going to sell them (the first I’ve ever heard her talk about selling anything!) for lemonade money. Apparently we haven’t been very forthcoming with the lemonade.

Prices range from one to four dollars if anyone is interested in helping the poor kid out.

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  1. says

    Looks like fun! In Australia it is easy to buy large rolls of butcher’s paper cheaply from the factories where they print newspapers. Most towns and all cities publish their own newspapers. They sell off the end of the rolls for a couple of dollars. These rolls easily have over a hundred metres on them. Maybe more! I’ve never measured them but they never seem to run out! I use them both at home and at school. They seem to last years. Maybe you could explore this avenue for some bargain paper.

  2. Maria says

    Hehe, I love it! I do the same thing with the butcher paper. I need to Just Do It!
    And P does the same thing with the selling of the artwork. Constantly. It’s kind of funny, but I’m also hoping that entrepreneurial spirit will support me in my old age…

  3. says

    I think part of the reason they love it is that it makes them seem so huge! gives them a real look back moment – beautiful pics – thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    Wonderful project and results! My daughter is always wanting to sell her creations in my shop. I guess everyone wants to earn a little income. Funny how that is learned so early.

  5. says

    what a fun project! it never gets old, does it?
    my kids have watched me making and selling things for my etsy shop ever since they were tiny… and my daughter often talks about selling her art too.
    i think it’s wonderful for them see and feel the confidence of being able to earn money doing the things they (we) love!

  6. says

    If you are looking for big rolls of paper, check out your local print shops sometimes they get rid of their ends of rolls for FREE!! I know I go like once a year to our free press to get stocked up.

  7. says

    I also recommend using the back side of wrapping paper for large roll paper. You can even usually find someone who is willing to freecycle some!

  8. says

    Oooh I think we will try this today! Thanks for the inspiration :) The only challenge will be to keep my 11 month old from ripping things to pieces ;)
    We’ve been painting on freezer paper a lot, I find the plastic backing on it keeps the paper very stable and keeps paint from seeping through. It’s a lot of paper for a smaller price!

  9. says

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with the butcher paper thing! And that’s funny about P wanting to sell her artwork too. The idea never occurred to me.

  10. arb says

    Jen, here in Durham you can get endrolls of newsprint from the newspaper printing plant for free. But I bet butcher paper is a little sturdier? Anyway thanks for reminding me–I’ve been meaning to ask John to go get some of those endrolls. In the past I have gotten them when I moved houses (better for wrapping breakables than newspaper, which gets your hands & dishes all smudged!).

  11. says

    You’re right – kids DO love tracing their bodies. We haven’t done any indoor body tracing for awhile now, but we are heavily into the chalk body tracings. My kids especially love lying on the driveway in “action” positions and then getting traced. It is always a hoot!

  12. says

    I’m in NY and we buy $1 rolls of great quality “ends of the rolls” from a place that prints desk calendars and other stuff. Call places and ask around, its worth a drive even and you can stock up (also I have given them as birthday gifts with some art supplies).

  13. inbal says

    this is beatiful.
    here’s another idea for the paper:
    in israel i get big sheets of paper from an architect office.
    they use it to draw plans of houses and then they throw it away. so instad of throwing it i get big box full of paper.
    it’s also a greener idea.

  14. Dawn says

    Esme has already sold a piece of art that she and Stephen did together. With the $20 (her percentage of $100) she got to buy rollerskates!! (Which she now can’t use due to the fact that she’s hit me ten times in less than one week… but that is another story).

  15. says

    Love it! They turned out beautiful! I have a Museum Class based on this idea in a month or so. I hope they turn out just as neat! :)

  16. Alea says

    Well you’ve have lots of comments about paper! I paid a few bucks for a newsprint roll end at a newspaper office several years ago and it hasn’t run out since. We use it for all sorts of things. Big pictures, or covering the table for some other project. Or on the floor when we have lots of kids here coloring. It is quite a bit thinner than butcher paper, but I think the costs makes it worth it! (It’s also not bright white)

  17. elana says

    we buy butcher paper rolls from ikea (do you have any nearby?). they’re cheap and we use them on our (ikea) easels and for bigger projects. not fully white, but we still love it. and the price!

  18. says

    Seriously, Body Tracing…Kids often love to trace their hands and make designs in their hands. I have seen this girl doing amazing body tracing and painting in it. What an art!