Body Tracing Activity for Kids

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Body Tracing Activity for KidsWe’ve had a lot of fun with a body tracing activity over the past week or so.

What started as a simple invitation to work big turned into a week-long exploration of self portraits, working large, and even quilting (on paper).

I taped large sheets of butcher paper to the floor in the living room, added a tray of art supplies, and then went to pick up Daphne and her friend Julianna from preschool.

They opted for body tracing self portraits and I decided to do the same and work beside them (they collaborated to trace my body).

Here are some photos, instructions, and the finished (totally awesome!) artworks decorating our walls:

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

Body Tracing Activity for Kids


  • Butcher paper or other large paper (we sometimes use brown contractor’s paper from the hardware store and have also used two pieces of easel roll paper taped together)
  • Masking tape
  • Oil pastels (or other drawing tools; paint sticks work great for this, too)
  • Paints (we used BioColors this time)
  • Fabric scraps or decorative papers (optional)
  • White glue (optional)

Since I know I’ll get questions, here’s the art tray we used and these are the double-dip paint cups.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids


1. First, cut a length of butcher paper long enough to fit your child’s body and tape it to the floor.

2. Have your child lie down on the paper and strike a pose of their choice. Trace their body with dark oil pastels or a marker.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

3. Draw and paint the self portrait as desired.

Julianna painted her body tracing exclusively and Daphne focused on drawing details and decorations on hers with the oil pastels.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

4. Add collage elements to your self portrait if you like (we often do!). In the past we’ve added everything from yarn and buttons to pasta and metal washers, but this time we focused on fabrics, applied with a watered down white glue.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

Here’s Daphne’s completed self portrait. I love all the detail! Her collage elements were added around the body rather than over the body, which I thought was interesting.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

When Maia got home from school later, she joined in the fun, but chose to make a large-scale bird painting and collage rather than a body tracing.

Maia’s mama bird is joined by a baby bird (see the tiny head against the big head in the photo below?) under a cape and surrounded by a quilt of fabric scraps.

Daphne did a second self portrait, with a little teamwork on Maia’s part. Painting only this time.

And that’s my body tracing art over on the right. I pieced together a fabric skirt and glued on a fabric heart and bird as well some circles cut out of some indigo fabric.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

I LOVE all these large, colorful artworks and hung them in the living room using a combination of Command Strips and tiny nails.

(I decided to take the kids frame display wall down for a while in order to make space for these.)

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

After her bird was completed, Maia decided to do a self-portrait as well…

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

She added grass, flowers, and a pond with lily pads and tadpoles and I hung it on the one remaining wall space in the living room.

Have you done body tracing with your kids yet? If not, here’s a bit more inspiration for you…

More Body Tracing Activity Posts on The Artful Parent

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  1. Dena says

    They are all so different and creative. Love the addition of fabric. I have done body tracing with her but it is time to do it again! The first time she also decided she wanted to trace her piglet stuffed animal which came out really quite detailed! I just picked up a couple packs of mini canvases for the melted crayon paintings for when her cousins are here today. I really appreciate how you expand on concepts and projects you have already done and make them into something new. They love the melted crayons and it’s so great to be able to offer it to them in a variety of interesting and creative ways!

  2. says

    I’ve been wanting to do this with my boys forever, but somehow always forget about it when it comes time to actually pick a project. I loved doing this myself when I was little. Thanks for the reminder! Pinning so I don’t forget again.

  3. Jo says

    Delighted to have seen this tonight, as did my first body tracing with my 2 year old yesterday. We made him Father Christmas, with red painted suit, shiny gaffer tape belt, and white puffy paint for the fur trim. When my (nearly 6 foot) 17 year old came home, he immediately asked if we could make one of him too!!! I love all your ideas, thank you so much for sharing. x

  4. says

    Great activities for kids! I’m teaching older teens, and we are doing sort of more serious stuff, but it is so fantastic your kids have space and place to do arts, and it sometimes seems so strange that anything else comes before art and some kids would attend art classes only rarely. I find that you are doing excellent work replacing all digital devices with hands-on works. I have no doubt your daughters will be very creative and artistic. I also believe that love to art starts with appreciation in family. I have WordPress blog, it’s all about art projects, but I mean, your tips are excellent for small kids.