Body Tracing Activity For Kids
Kids Arts and Crafts Activities Painting

Work BIG With This Fun Body Tracing Activity for Kids


This body tracing activity is a fun opportunity for kids to work BIG! Explore creating self portraits in a totally new way.

Body Tracing Activity For Kids -finished paintings on wall

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.

For set up, I taped large sheets of butcher paper to the floor in the living room and added a tray of art supplies. Then I 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 - art materials on tray
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*We sometimes use brown contractor’s paper from the hardware store and have also used two pieces of easel roll paper taped together

Here’s the art tray we used and these are the double-dip paint cups.

Body Tracing Activity - painting


1. Set Up

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

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.

Body Tracing Activity - painting self portraits

3. Decorate and Paint the Body Tracing

Draw, paint, and collage the self portrait as desired.

Julianna painted her body tracing exclusively while Daphne focused on drawing details and decorating with the oil pastels for her tracing.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

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.

Body Tracing Activity for Kids

4.  Hang (and Admire) 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.

Finished Body Tracing Activity

When Maia got home from school later, she joined in the fun.

Instead of a body tracing activity, 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.

Then Daphne did a second self portrait, with a little teamwork on Maia’s part.

And that’s my body tracing 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.

Body Tracing Activity For Kids -finished paintings on wall

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

(Also, 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 Art Activity - painting

She added grass, flowers, and a pond with lily pads and tadpoles to her portrait.  I love it!

Have you done a body tracing activity with your kids yet? If not, I highly recommend it! And if so, perhaps it’s time to revisit it.


Pin It For Later

Body Tracing Activity For Kids
Work BIG With This Fun Body Tracing Activity for Kids


  • Reply
    Angela @CreatifulKids
    April 3, 2014 at 11:23 am

    These look so nice! We’ve got to try to paint big also. For now we’ve been only “drawing small” as you can see from our squiggle drawing game :-) Now I’m motivated to challenge the kids to think bigger ;-)

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      April 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Yes, Angela! Paint big! :)

      Btw, we love playing that game, too!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    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

  • Reply
    February 5, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Sarah Jeffery
    September 22, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Beautiful pieces of art! I know this post is several years old now, but I was just wondering how long it took them to complete their paintings? I’m thinking of doing this with a small group of kids I teach, but I only have an hour class with them and I’m not sure that’ll be long enough.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Can this work without taping the paper to the floor? I would rather protect my floor with a drop cloth as I would have to do this activity in my great room . . .

  • Reply
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