Currently we don't have a line of children's shirts, but that's coming very soon, because I firmly believe that if we want to see change, we have to begin with our youth. I'm not sure there has ever been a time in history when children needed to learn the importance of being able to offer someone a compliment more than now. And with school starting, it reminded me of one of my favorite projects that I would do with the kids when I taught art freelance and assisted with the boys' classes in elementary school.
Self portraits are a common go to in art classes no matter your age or level. What I love about doing self portraits with kids is that with a crayon, paintbrush, or glue and paper....they don't just have the ability to present themselves as a mirror portrays them. They can present how they see themselves in their mind...or maybe how they wish they were. Sometimes they will exaggerate what they see as their flaws and that gives us a little assistance in areas where we may need to work on their confidence. And sometimes they show us their dreams that we need to encourage. I'm fairly certain in every self portrait I ever created from the age of 5 to 15 there was a tutu involved and hair that just got bigger and bigger and bigger.
But the self portrait isn't just about art. It gives us an opportunity to add a lesson in humanity when we turn it into a "class" project.
(Please note that self portraits can be done with any teacher...art experience is not required!!! This is all about the kids putting on paper how they see themselves.)
Whether you have kindergartners who will be working in crayon or middle schoolers with mad collage skills, once your self portraits are complete, hang them on the wall for everyone to view. Then the complimenting can begin.
Give every student the opportunity to leave a compliment on each classmates self portrait. Talk first about how compliments aren't just about the superficial. It's not just about a great pair of jeans or beautiful long hair. Talk about how we find the best things that are wonderful about our friends, on the inside. Do they always hold the door open? Then they are polite. Do they make you belly laugh? Then they are funny. Do they remind you of how you feel when you eat your grandmothers homemade muffins? Then they are comforting. And yes, it's always okay to also recognize things such as being a great athlete, artist, musician, etc!!
They can write the compliments directly on the art work if you work on large pieces of paper or poster board or you can come up with unique ways of placing compliments, like cutting strips of paper, writing them down and then gluing to incorporate them into the hair of a collage!!
There are millions of ways to do it and you can make it as easy or as complicated as you like depending on your students and the amount of time you have to give to the project.
Leave the portraits up for a few weeks and make sure and give plenty of time for all the students to admire the compliments they have been given.
I really love to do this at the beginning of school and again at the end. It's fun to see how their art skills and visions of themselves have changed.....but I also love to see how their compliments evolve as they grow and learn more about their classmates.
Remember this project is two fold. I know that we live in a time where we often feel that children are chronically led to believe that they are amazing without doing anything. Personally, I'm one of those believers as well.....but where they might be seeing those words of positivity come out of the mouths of their parents, they likely don't hear them much from their friends and peers. This project isn't as much about boosting self esteem as it is about learning to look for the good and acknowledge that good to their peers.
THANK YOU TO ALL THE TEACHERS OUT THERE!!! You are the creators of beautiful minds and compassionate souls!!!!! If you choose to use the project this school year we would love to see the end results!!! You can post them on social media and tag us using @Complimentees using the hashtag #mypositiveartproject!!
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