Colorful Self-Portrait Collages


Ms. Paula Liz

Grade Level:

Kindergarten (lower elementary)


Painting & Collage

Overview: We are all different and unique! One of the many differences that can be seen is our skin color, but very rarely will our skin color match the “flesh” crayon that is in the box. We are all shades of brown and as art teachers we can teach students to think outside the box and see that there is beauty in our diversity. During this project students will learn how to recognize, accept, and celebrate their differences through a self-portrait collage painting.

To understand our own identity we need to begin by recognizing what makes us unique. Many of us were taught that it is rude to notice each other’s differences and were encouraged to be color blind, but children do see color and begin to recognize differences at very young ages. By pretending everyone is the same and our differences do not matter we remove individuality. This is not practical as no two people are the same. We live in a diverse world and children are exposed to a variety of people and experiences. They can easily see that we have varied families, homes, skin color, hair, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and points of view. Our differences make us who we are, each of us is one of a kind!

Ultimately, we want people to see us, understand us, and appreciate us for who we are. But in order to find commonality and value in others, students first need to be able to find value in themselves. By highlighting the positive aspects of individuality we will teach our students that being unique is beautiful and our differences are meant to be honored. As they learn to acknowledge, understand, respect, and appreciate their own individuality they can begin to not just accept each other, but celebrate each other.

Objective: Students will learn how to recognize, accept, and celebrate their differences through a self-portrait collage painting.

Day 1: We will use secondary colors to paint a background for a self-portrait.

Day 2: We will mix different paint colors to match our skin. Read "All the Colors We Are/Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel" by Katie Kissinger and then guide students through the following questions:

1. What is color?

2. What is skin?

3. What is skin color?

4. Why is it important?

5. Why is it not important?

6. Why might some people find it hard to talk about this?

Then students learn how to mix different paint colors to match their own skin. They then paint an entire paper to match their skin color.

Day 3: We will mix different paint colors to match our hair.
Students watch the animated short “Hair Love” and discuss how our hair can be different colors, textures, and styles. Students mix paint to match their hair color.

Day 4: We will begin to collage our self-portrait.
Students read & discuss “The Skin You Live In” before collaging skin and hair onto background.

Day 5: We will add texture and style our hair to add to our self-portrait collage.
Students read “I love My Hair!” and discuss how hair can be different colors, textures, and hair. They then use oil pastels to add lines to represent texture in their hair (straight, wavy, curly, etc.)

Day 6: We will use shapes to draw our facial features.
Students use a mirror to draw their eyes and mouth on a separate sheet of paper.

Day 7: We will use lines to add details to our self-portraits.
Students cut out and glue their eyes and mouth. They then use crayons to draw their nose and eyebrows.

Day 8: We will use patterns to finish our self-portrait collage.
Students add their body to their self-portraits. They then used papers to create a pattern onto their shirt. Students add and refine any final details before signing their work.

Day 9: We will recognize and celebrate our differences when sharing our self-portraits.
Students will read the story “The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson. Remind students that there are many reasons to feel different- because we are all different! But when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us and celebrate us! Spend the class having your students share their self-portraits, telling their stories, and celebrating their diversity.

Watch my "All the Colors We Are" read aloud on YouTube

Download this lesson on TpT at Making Art with Ms. Paula Liz

Check out my website with more Student examples

Artists & Inspiration


All the Colors We Are (Read aloud)
Hair Love (Animated Short)
The Skin You Live In (Read aloud)
I Love My Hair! (Read aloud)

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