What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Reggio activities - self portraits from An Everyday StoryWhat do you see when you look in the mirror? My face is so familiar to me. Those eyes, those teeth, I’ve seen them a thousand times before.

But what about a small child? Asked to truly look at themselves for the first time? What do they see?

‘My eyes are blue…and there are small black dots in them…what are those dots Mummy?’

‘My chin has lines when I do this…and I have really big cheeks.’  ‘Look I’m really happy.’

Reggio activities - self portraits provocationLook into the mirror Jack and tell me what you see. This was an activity to look more deeply, to truly observe, to see what he sees.

When Jack draws, he draws from habit; the same shape for each person, the same lines for each tree, I wanted to see what he would do when challenged to draw what he saw.

As expected he started drawing his regular forms; I let him draw for a while, content in watching him experiment with the dry-erase marker.

Reggio activities - self portraits exploring dry erase markersI remember reading a story from Reggio Emilia, of children and their observational drawings of leaves. How the teacher had gently guided them to notice more and more detail in the leaf and then represent that in their own drawings.

How she had helped to improve their drawing skills, not through an art lesson, but through a conversation, through observation; not telling them how to draw or what to draw, just helping them be present and to notice. This lesson has always stuck with me.

So we talked about what Jack could see in the mirror. What his face did when he moved different parts. How his eyes looked, what they did when he smiled.

And then he started to draw. For the first time he drew a wide mouth, and teeth, he drew nostrils and pupils, he drew the curls in his ears, and the lines on his chin.

Reggio activities - self portraits drawing teeth Reggio activities - self portraits drawing nostrils and a chin Reggio activities - self portraits drawing eyesAnd then he drew different people. Each with different hair and different expressions. He was looking now. He was drawing what he saw. He was happy knowing he could make those lines, those shapes.

Through a conversation, through observation, he is learning to draw.

9 Replies to “What do you see when you look in the mirror?”

  1. mariliaescarlate says:

    Genious! I’m your fan.

  2. I love the set up, and what he produced. I think a gentle non-instructive approach is so more effective and respectful. I’ve pinned it.

  3. This is great! It would be great to make a mini booklet of his progression. Updating over time.

  4. angatmeltingmoments says:

    How wonderful. I will now always remember this. Thanks 🙂

  5. Wow! You can see the change in his drawings from this one session. You have presented and explained this approach very clearly. Thank you 🙂

    1. I know! I was actually quite amazed at how much his drawings changed just from this one session. Kids really are quite amazing, aren’t they?

  6. abigail buys says:

    good day thanks for insight and delightful story.

    Kind regards


  7. totally brilliant idea – if its ok with you I am going to use this as an activity at the preschool I am doing a student prac at – they will love it !

  8. where did you get those mirrors from?
    Thanks so much!

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