Self-portraits / WordSparks

I had a great time making self-portraits with the WordSparks kids last week–both in art and poetry.

IMG_4552 IMG_4510 IMG_4548IMG_4500  IMG_4556IMG_4547 IMG_4505IMG_4518  IMG_4545 IMG_4544IMG_4526IMG_4553Hand colored self-portraitIMG_4550

Ok, that last one wasn’t a camper. He’s my cutie-patootie toddler whose portrait my daughter colored… but how could I leave him out?

After we worked on our self-portraits, we wrote some “I AM” poems.

I’ll include a few here (some transcribed, and some in their handwritten form):


I AM  ~ Laura Voros

I am a nose of a hound.
I am an eye of an eagle.
I am the howl of the wolf.
I am the ear of a fox.
I am the leg of a cheetah.
I am the teeth of the lion.
I am the knowledge of the world.
I am the moon.
I am the sun.
I am Mother Nature.


I AM ~ Zachary Schultz

I am the sun that shines on your house. I am your house. I am the painting in your house. I am your bed that the painting hangs over. I am the dog that lays in your bed. I am the collar on your dog. I am the tick that hides under your dog’s collar. I am your son that gets rid of the tick that hides under your dog’s collar. I am your son’s favorite amusement park. I am your son’s favorite ride at the amusement park.



I AM ~ Caleb Ching


I AM ~ Elizabeth Bourlakas


I AM ~ Sarah Scultz

And just a few more photos from the day:


IMG_4488 IMG_4494 IMG_4495 IMG_4503 IMG_4520 IMG_4515 IMG_4523 IMG_4555

If you’re interested in making similar portraits or self-portraits or writing I AM poems, here’s some info.

Portrait Instructions:

First I took photos of the kids standing against a white wall (as I didn’t want the background to be too distracting).

I opened the photos in the regular Windows Photoviewer program (from Windows 7… I have Windows 8, but I loaded the older photoviewer program on my computer, as I like it better). Then I made them grayscale (which is one of the “effects” that come up on the bar at the top of the photoviewer) and cropped them into a square. I save those files under a new name.

I reopened the new files in GIMP (which is a program similar to Photoshop, but unlike Photoshop, it can be downloaded for free). In Gimp, I chose “Filters” and then “Artistic” and then “Photocopy.” (You used to be able to do this project using an actual photocopy machine, but now they are all too fancy and the photos just look like photos– which is not the desired effect for this project.)

I just played with the setting that popped up until I got the desired result (which is something like a coloring book outline of a face).


For example, for this photo, I used

Then you have to export the photo to make it a jpg so it will print. In GIMP, go under “File” and choose “Export.” Then replace “xcf” in the title line with “jpg” after the period.

Then just print, cut, and let the kids color. We used oil pastels, markers, and colored pencils. As you can see from the examples above, each has a different effect.

For the I AM poems, I just told the kids to think metaphorically (we talked a while about metaphor and I gave them examples off the top of my head), think about shifting parts of speech (so they wouldn’t just use adjectives, but nouns and verbs and whatnot),  be wild, have fun–and most importantly, not to worry about making sense!

Oh yeah, also I told them to write at least 10 lines, each beginning with “I am.” 🙂


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