Secrets in Children’s Artwork

secrets in children's artwork

You will always be surprised at the number of secrets in children’s artwork. I learned a lot back when my children were in elementary school and I volunteered for a special creative program. Meet the Masters is a wonderful art curriculum that can be done either through the schools using volunteers or for home school.

At the public school where my children attended, the program was funded through the PTA and run completely by volunteers. Each grade received several sets of art prints showcasing the work of the Great Masters with information about the corresponding artist and project ideas. A volunteer like myself would go into the classroom once a month with two reproduction paintings to show the children. I would read from the back of the painting where the printed information gave us information such as how long the artist lived, where they went to school, an interesting tidbit about their life, and then the facts about that particular piece.

After going over both works, there were questions to help the children discuss everything in-depth and help them to compare and contrast. Sometimes I would bring little treats to hand out to encourage answers.

Time To Draw

Once that part was finished, it was time to hand out supplies for the craft/artwork we would be doing that day. Sometimes I used the suggested project and other times, I would use my own as I did with the Artist Trading Cards (ATCs).

If you are not familiar with ATCs, think about a baseball card or a Pokemon card but each one is handmade by an artist. The intent behind an Artist Trading Card is that they are meant to be traded and never sold. I love the idea of children creating and trading their own mini-masterpieces, so each year that I participated in that volunteer program, I found an artist that will suit this project.

Artist Trading Card Project for Meet The Masters
5th Grade Artist Trading Card (ATC) Example

The night before, I would cut out 2 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ rectangles out of heavy white card stock. The class can use crayons, colored pencils, markers, or paints depending upon my mood. It also takes into account what the lesson is about and the preference of the teacher.

One particular school year, I did this project with two 2nd grade classes and one 5th grade class. I instructed them to create a self-portrait on one side of the card using colored pencils. For the 5th graders, I added that they needed to draw themselves doing the job they wanted to have as an adult. On the back of the card, they were to write their name, date of portrait, birth date, and one fun fact about themselves.

Art & Self-Esteem

The secrets revealed in the children’s artwork were beyond interesting to me and I had to share

The second-grade classes were all wonderfully positive when it came to the “fun fact” they wrote about themselves. From the simple, “I am nice.” to the proud “I am the fastest runner.” and “I am a great friend.”. Each one of those 40 or so students wrote something nice about themselves.

When it came to the 5th graders, it wasn’t quite the same though. There was only one boy who wrote, “I am a good football player.”. Almost all the other children either wrote about things they liked outside of themselves or turned them into a joke.

A piece made me take a breath at his bravery and I guess, his self-awareness read: “Most of the time, I am shy so I don’t deal well with most strangers.” He drew himself to be a doctor and I think he will be a wonderful one.

The one that broke my heart read, “I am stupid and that is why I am funny.”

Pulling her aside privately, she confirmed that she meant what she wrote. I shared with her that it wasn’t acceptable to be mean to herself like that. With a strong voice, I explained that I didn’t care about what kind of grades she got because all people are smart in different ways. I told her that she was to never think of herself as not smart again.

Asking her what she was good at, it was thrilling that she was able to list a few things. That allowed me to point out that all of those things needed intelligence. I explained that having a great sense of humor needed its own brand of braininess. She agreed to change it to “I am smart and that is why I am funny.”

I hope that she heard the echo of my voice louder than her own the next time she was mean to herself.

It was an amazing view into the self-esteem of those children. What a gift it was to experience how art allowed them to open up about themselves. It was also incredible to see the differences in how children see themselves. What happens to them between 2nd and 5th grades that they lose their confidence? More importantly, how can we help them get it back? What other hidden secrets are in children’s artwork if we take the time to look and talk about it?

In addition to being a Meet the Masters volunteer, I tried often to be a room mom for each child every year. If you are looking for more craft ideas, check out my Spring Fling Party or End of Year Party posts.

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Trending Posts

Edit Template

The Get-To-Know Me Posts:

© 1996 – 2024 Melissa Ruppert Olivero Daydreamlane All Rights Reserved

Created with Royal Elementor Addons