I was using chalk with a young friend this morning when we came to body tracing, that old favourite. It reminded me of a very simple activity I’ve done a few times with my classes, and when I checked back in my photo archives I found a good example. First we read I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont, in which a boy paints every part of his body in. Then we use large paper and do tracings of each child’s body with pastel. The paper is not large enough for the whole body so the kids just pick which part they want to do – the head and shoulders, arms or legs. Then, we decorate. Sometimes the children look back at the book to get ideas for how they might want to proceed. This is really where reading the book pays off, because otherwise there is a tendency to just colour the body all one colour, or draw clothing, but when they take inspiration from the book the designs take off!
I generally do this activity starting with pastel, so they can do some more intricate designs and then pass out the paint for that large-scale, messy feeling that is in the book! Of course, the pastel resist the paint so in the end the artwork is quite stunning.