Deeper ThinkingConfidentWorld Ready

Self Portraits with Loose Parts

​“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.”
-Loris Malaguzzi,
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

The journey began with a simple provocation! We invited children to look into the mirror and asked ‘Who do you see?’. They initially observed their friends, teachers, and materials in the background. With time and encouragement, they began to see themselves. It was interesting to see them explore different expressions and find joy!

And we asked ourselves ‘How can we take this interest further?’.


We provided paper and pencils and encouraged children to create their own self portraits. Self portraits provide children with a sense of identity, awareness of who they are in the world, and how they change over time. The conversations at the table included color of the eyes, texture of hair, and shape of the nose. Children exchanged ideas about how they look different and how they were also similar in some ways.

We continued this journey by providing children a variety of loose parts to create their own self-portraits. The experience of watching every child create his/her own self-portrait with interest and care left us spell-bound. “I will use small buttons for my eyes” and “I will use the long yarn as I have long hair” showed us that children enjoyed using different loose parts to represent different parts of their face. This is a wonderful example of symbolic play.

“A self-portrait is an intimate bold declaration of identity. In her self- portrait, a child offers herself as both subject and artist. When we look at her self-portrait, we see a child as she sees herself. The story of self-portrait work is a tender story to tell.” 

‘Where will we go from here?’. What other opportunities can we give our children to help them gain a stronger understanding of ‘Who We Are’. These are the questions we ask ourselves.

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