Grades K-2
Grades 3-5
Social Studies
Grades 6-8


Create a classroom gallery that displays students' self-portraits!

Activity Partner
Total time estimate:
60+ minutes
Activity Objectives
  • Students will create artwork that depicts different aspects of their identity, such as their background, interests, worries, and accomplishments, and explore their classmates' portraits to learn more about them
  • Then, students will reflect on how artists can express how they perceive themselves, and the most important parts of their identity, through their artwork
  • Paper, pencils, crayons, markers, paint, and other art materials

This activity supports the development of the following
social-emotional skills: self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills.


Engage students in an art activity in which they create a self-portrait. Encourage them to think about what they want to share about their identity, such as their ethnic or cultural background, interests, personality, worries, and accomplishments.

Then, brainstorm ways that students can represent their identity, such as through the colors, symbols, settings, techniques, and details that they use in their art. For example, a student who identifies as Asian-American may include symbols that represent the dual nature of their identity, and any struggles, strengths, and feelings that they associate with their unique identity.


Facilitate a live virtual exchange with your Empatico class, and invite students to an art gallery walk. Share the link for a digital gallery using a tool like Flipgrid, Wakelet, or Padlet, or ask students to hold up their artwork during the video call.

Students might share more about their artwork, and explain any personal context or background (e.g., specific memories, cultural inspirations, etc.), techniques that they used, or emotions they wanted to express.

As students view others' artwork, encourage them to use the Observe-Think-Feel process as described below:

  • Observe: What did they notice in the art? What words would they use to describe it?
  • Think: What did the art make them think about? What do they think the artist was thinking about as they created it? What do they think is the most important element in the artwork?
  • Feel: How does the art make them feel? How do they think the artist felt as they created it? What do they think the artist was trying to express about themselves?

Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions: 

  • Describe the process of creating your self-portrait. What were some of the influences on your artwork? What feelings, memories, experiences, or thoughts did you try to capture and share?
  • How do you feel when you look at your self-portrait? How did you feel when you shared your self-portrait with your classmates? 
  • What do you want people to know about you from looking at your artwork? 
  • As you look at your classmates’ self-portraits, what stands out to you? How do you think they see themselves based on their self-portrait? Did you learn anything new about them?
Did you finish this activity? We'd love your input.