Overview: Free self portrait lesson plan for teachers. Using a variety of art materials, young artists express their creativity and individuality with self-portraits.
Subject: Visual & Performing Arts: Art History, Arts & Crafts, Visual Arts, Social Studies: World History
Grades: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Duration: 1 hour
Topic: Art, Art History, Self-Esteem
Students will be able to:
- Identify what a "self-portrait" is.
- Recognize examples of self-portraits in art history;
- Create a self-portrait that expresses their unique self using a variety of art materials
Essential Questions: What is a self-portrait? How have famous artists expressed themselves through self-portraits? How can I express myself through my own self-portrait?
Vocabulary: Self-Portrait, Expression, Self-Concept, Traits
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- ELA: Speaking & Listening
Call out several appearance-based characteristics and encourage students to react appropriately for characteristics that apply to them (such as “Everyone with curly hair, stand up!” or “Everyone wearing a red shirt, clap your hands!”). Emphasize that each person is unique and has his or her own special look.
- Direct/Guided Instruction:
Explain how artists in history would often paint pictures of themselves, which were called “self-portraits,' and that “self” is the person doing the painting and “portrait” is another word for “picture.” Show examples of famous self-portraits through art history, such as by Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, and Rembrandt Van Rijn, on a projector. Encourage students to share their thoughts on the portraits, noting qualities like color, clothing choice, and facial expression. Explain that it is now the students’ turn to make their own self-portraits.
- Independent Practice:
Pass out large pieces of paper and explain that students can choose from a variety of art materials to create their portrait, including crayons, markers, colored pencils, and watercolor paints. Have mirrors available so that students can look at themselves as they work. Encourage students to create a portrait that they feel shows other people who they are. Students can decorate the backgrounds of their portraits too with pictures that represent their interests and hobbies, if they choose.
After students have completed their self-portraits, each student briefly shares his or her self-portrait with the rest of the class. Close the lesson with a brief class discussion based around the prompt "Why do you think artists make self-portraits?"
- Monitor student progress while the students are working on their self-portraits. Review each student's completed self-portrait to ensure that the student made a clear effort to create a picture of him or herself.
- English Language Learners: Review key vocabulary terms that may be unfamiliar such as names of colors and art materials.
- Higher-level students: These students can complete the Make a Van Gogh-Style Self-Portrait worksheet which encourages students to create a self-portrait using brushstroke techniques similar to those used by Vincent Van Gogh.
- Students with special needs: If students have physical challenges, the teacher can prepare aspects of the self-portrait ahead of time depending on the student's ability (such as cutting out paper pieces of a face for the student to place and glue or pre-tracing the outline of a face).