Prep: 5 Minutes / Activity Time: 7-10 Minutes

Drawing is an essential part of your child’s development. Those initial marks will eventually lead to writing, but in our haste to see recognizable letter forms we sometimes forget how powerful a tool like drawing can be. Your positive attitude towards her attempts at drawing will improve your child’s confidence. It will allow her to make discoveries, tell you what she is thinking and feeling, and how she is interpreting her world around her. Self portraits are always fun. This activity can give your child an opportunity to express herself while giving you a glimpse of what makes her happy or sad.

  • crayons or colored pencils
  • white unlined paper
  • mirror

Step 1: Provide a mirror and ask your child to show you a happy face. Bring attention to what you see in her smile and her eyes. Ask her what she is thinking about that makes her feel that way. For example:

You have such a pretty face, Janie. Look here in this mirror. Can you show me a happy face? I can see your teeth showing when you smile like that! What makes you happy?

Step 2: Give her a moment to tell you something that makes her happy and offer some paper and crayons to draw a picture of her happy face and perhaps something that makes her happy. For example:

I can see how happy you are when you talk about that. Do you think you could draw a picture of your happy face? Here are some crayons and paper. You can look in the mirror to help you see your happy face.

Step 3:  As she draws, comment on what you see her doing. Remember to give encouraging feedback. This experience is about building confidence and communication skills, not about how accurate the drawing is.    

Step 4: Bring her attention back to the mirror. This time ask her to make a sad face and tell you about something that makes her sad. Talk about what you see and what she is describing. Encourage her to draw a sad face.

Step 5: If she shows interest, you might suggest that she write her name, attempt to label items in her picture or to dictate her thoughts to you as you write the words for her. Read it back to her or have her read it back to you. Display her pictures for all to see and encourage her to share with family members.

Limit the activity to one feeling, starting with “happy.” Give her a piece of paper and help her get started by suggesting she draw a big circle for her head. Make suggestions for other parts of her face.

Use her “Happy Face” drawing as the front cover of a happy book. Encourage her to draw pictures of people, places or things that make her feel happy. Put these together to create a book or journal.

Encourage her to express other feelings like sad, scared, angry, excited or worried. Put drawings together to make a “feelings” book.