Self-Awareness and Art

Where there’s a will, I’ve got to find a way, especially when it comes to encouraging child-generated ideas.

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On this day, Greysen was trying out new ideas with a familiar medium. She was experimenting with her face paints by trying to mark new things from her tongue to her feet. She eventually tried to paint her reflection on the glass, but even though it is harmless in intent, I was hesitant.

Experimenting with Face Paints


Would she generalize this play and draw on the mirror or other walls with other drawing tools? I decided, instead, to offer her another drawing surface.


We borrowed this piece of Lexan from Dad’s studio and I propped it up against her closet mirror. I kept the Lexan in our bedroom so that when she showed an interest in her reflection at some point, I’d be ready.


As is typical of children between the ages of 12 to 24 months,  Greysen is increasingly self-aware. She notices, rather randomly, things about herself. Within two days of the face painting play above, she noticed her “black eyes” again.



Perfect time to pull out the “glass.” To prompt her drawing without giving direct instruction, I asked her to stand against the Lexan so that I could draw her silhouette. Unfortunately for Greysen, I made a very crude outline (I took this picture later while she was napping).



She eagerly added details while she described her own features, such as “black eyes”.  This setup worked really well for Greysen. She could refer to her reflection and continue to draw features wherever she felt inspired to do so. Can you spot her drawn eyes?



When she had drawn to contentment, we asked her sister to pose for an outline sketch. She kindly obliged, and Greysen then drew details of her sister.



She had to squat a bit for these drawings.


Emergent Curriculum & Self-Awareness


As Greysen becomes increasingly aware of herself, I am making more of an effort to encourage her ideas in general, as a way of acknowledging her developing sense of self.


Her play with face paints continues to be the one interest that I am trying to develop play possibilities for.  By setting up materials that are based on her interests and suggestions rather than mine, I hope to provide her with play opportunities that are meaningful to her and her developing skills.


What inspires your children’s play? Do you find a difference in their attention span on an activity if the idea is theirs versus yours?




One Comment

  1. Mike says:

    You know, I can’t help but be reminded of Lauren Greenfield’s “Thin,” where one of the teen girls is asked to draw an outline of herself, which ends up being a severely distorted image due to her anorexia and self-image. Self-image is so important, and yet so fragile. I’m so happy that Greysen has shown such confidence in herself and everything she does, and it’s daunting to realize how much of an effect we will have on her development in this respect. Great post, Marisa!

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