Cassie Stephens: Kindergarten Rainbows and Self-Portraits!

Hello, friends! My kindergarten is wrapping up a self-portrait lesson and it’s one that I’ve never done before with them. I’m super happy with the result and I wanted to share with y’all. Mostly I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks and things I learned in hopes that it may help you, if you decide to go down this rainbow/self-portrait path.

But first, let’s chat about where this lesson falls in my kindergarten line of projects. We start the school year in kindergarten with Line Sculptures. From there, we moved on to Dot Painting. Following this, we painted Rainbows! Now, in the past, I completed this Line Unit before moving on but the last couple of years I’ve mixed it up a bit. I will bounce back to those lessons but for now, we are painting. We’ve also not finished our rainbows (by adding the sun and clouds) but that will happen this week.

My favorite supply for painting with kindergarten are tempera cakes. This is a little what my set up looks like. I always serve up paint (or have the kids get their own paint) on trays. This helps us carry the supplies easier and contain the mess incase there are spills. If you know me and my paint set up, then you know that we normally use dog dishes for water and a sponge. But sometimes we are using them for other things so this is my back up set up: water pot (these are my favorite and you can find them here, they are NO SPILL!), sponge for ‘drying’ our brush (sponges are called Dirty Ole Sponge Bob and I get them from the Dollar Tree) and a tray to hold the sponges (old sushi dishes!).

My tempera cakes are usually a mess. You can purchase tempera cakes in a set but they always end up getting crumbly or with a big hole in the middle. The tray the cakes come in is crap and a thing plastic. I noticed huge messes of paint left on tables a couple of years ago…which was from the thing plastic tray splitting and paint leaking out the bottom! So now I NEVER order the whole tray, just the refills like I do my pan watercolor paint. I love Prang’s tempera cakes as well as Jack Richesons. I order all the colors in the rainbow. I use muffin tins and plastic condiment cups to create a palette for the kids. When we are painting our skin tone, the palette is changed to have only red, orange, yellow, white, brown and black. For painting rainbows, this is how I set up the palette.

We spend a LOT of time listening to this song and this song as well as learning the ASL for all of the colors in the rainbow! Then we hit the ground running and paint our rainbows.

Even in 30 minutes (the length of all my art classes), I always have early finishers! So early finishers are given another sheet of paper and told to paint a rainbow pattern. We wrap those up the following art class.

Hot Tip: Cut 2″ off the paper that you plan to frame that way it’s ready to frame on traditional size construction paper! I plan to frame these self-portraits on black construction paper 12″X18″.

The following art class, we learn what a self-portrait is! This video REALLY helped and we loved it!

After listening, dancing and singing with the song, I demonstrated drawing a large self-portrait as the kids directed me. I asked “what should I draw first? What shape should I use? How big should I draw?”

Afterward, they were given paper and a permanent marker (I wished I would have had them use a regular black marker as the line would have been thicker). They did an amazing job!

The following art class, we learned all about scissor safety! And how to carry and wear our scissors correctly. Below is a video on how I explain scissor safety to my students (if you cannot see this video, try viewing this blog post from your laptop):


After cutting out, kindergarten glued their selfies to their rainbow backgrounds!

This is definitely a project I’ll be doing again!
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