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Self Portrait Art with Little Kids

by Jean Van't Hul
July 4, 2017
Self Portrait Art with Little Kids

We did self portrait art with the little kids in our Toddler Art Class this spring that I’ve been wanting to share with you. It is awesome!

This art activity would work with any age, but it is one of the few self portrait activities that you can do with toddlers.

Body tracing self portraits would be another that would work, if you can get them to lie down and submit to having their bodies traced. (Preschoolers love it, but toddlers sometimes hesitate. Body tracing with toddlers has worked better for me in a home environment than a class.)

Anyway… I adapted this self portrait art activity from one that I saw on Art Bar Blog, titled, “What Does Your Imagination Look Like?” It is amazing but better for preschoolers and grade school kids. Definitely check it out if your kids are a tad older!

But for the littles, try this one. You will love the result! It is worthy of hanging on the wall or gifting.

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids - Finished Toddler Self Portraits

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids


  • Pizza box*
  • White paint
  • Photo of child
  • Assorted drawing materials (we used crayons, colored pencils, chalk markers, etc)

*We used the tops and bottoms of Mod Pizza boxes and liked the square format and the frame effect that the side of the pizza boxes gave. You could also use regular cardboard or poster board.

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids - Preparing for the Activity


#1. First, give your pizza box a coat or two of white paint. Let dry.

I used acrylic paint for some of them, then tempera for the others when I ran out. Both worked fine, but acrylic gave better coverage.

#2. Make a black and white print or copy on paper of your child’s photo.

What you want is a black and white print on paper, not glossy photo paper. We had parents from the toddler art class send us a digital photo of their kids, then I used PicMonkey (a free online photo processing platform) and changed it to a black and white photo (under effects) and also adjusted the brightness and contrast (under exposure) on them. I saved the B&W versions of the kids’ portraits and printed them out.

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids - Adding Photos to Background

#3. Cut away the background and glue the child’s portrait along the bottom edge of the white pizza box. Let dry.

Self Portrait Art Instructions

Now it’s time for the kiddos to make their self portrait art!

#1. Let the child draw on and color the self portrait.

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids - Setting Up

Set out the box with photo and one or two art supplies…

Self Portrait Art with Toddlers

…with the guidance that they can draw and color around their photo—the background, the frame, and even the photo itself.

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids - Drawing and Decorating on and Around the Face

Many of the toddlers in the class drew over their photo as well as around it, as you can see in many of these photos.

Self Portrait Art with Little Kids - Drawing and Decorating on and Around the Face

Offer another material or two and let the child continue to work. We started with crayons, then brought out chalk markers and colored pencils.

#2. Color and decorate the frame.

The sides of the pizza box act as a frame for the self portrait art. You can invite your child to color and decorate the inside and outside of the frame with the drawing materials.

#3. Add a ribbon for hanging.

To hang the self portrait artwork, hot glue a length of ribbon to the back of the cardboard at the two top corners.

Self Portrait Art with Toddlers - Great gift or keepsake!

#4. Display or gift!

This is an easy and attractive way to do self portrait art with little kids! Plus it makes for a great keepsake artwork, don’t you think?

Pin It for Later

Self Portrait Art Little Kids Can Do - Great for Keepsakes and Gifts

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