We’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.
As set up, 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
- Butcher paper or other large paper*
- 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)
*We sometimes use brown contractor’s paper from the hardware store and have also used two pieces of easel roll paper taped together
STEP 1 :: Set Up
First, cut a length of butcher paper long enough to fit your child’s body and tape it to the floor.
Step 2 :: Trace Your Child’s Body
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.
Step 3 :: Decorate and Paint the Body Tracing
Draw, paint, and collage 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.
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. This time we focused on fabrics, applied with a watered-down white glue.
Step 4 :: Admire and Hang the Finished Portraits
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.
When Maia got home from school later, she joined in the fun.
Instead of a body tracing, though, she chose to make a large-scale bird painting and collage. 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.
And that’s my body tracing art over on the right (above). I pieced together a fabric skirt and glued on a fabric heart and bird as well some circles cut out of some indigo fabric.
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.)
After her bird was completed, Maia decided to do a self-portrait as well.
She added grass, flowers, and a pond with lily pads and tadpoles to her portrait. I love it!
Have you done body tracing with your kids yet? If not, highly recommend it! And if so, perhaps it’s time to revisit it.
And if you want another fun body tracing activity, try this one. (It’s especially great for learning about the body and for Halloween time.)
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