We always start the school year off with an exploration of identity. The first project I work on with the groups is the creation of self-portraits. We use different materials for the different grade levels, scaffolding depending on ability or need.
When the current first graders were in kindergarten last year, they learned to mix paint to resemble their own skin color. To create their portraits, we decided to have them experience this again. They did a tremendous job. They painted the entire sheet of paper which we will use when they create self-portrait collages out of cut paper.
The second graders are doing traditional portraits exploring the provocation, "What is the same?" I wanted to use this introductory exploration to not only explore identity, but as an introduction to the theme for the year, "Making Connections." The following documentation is the beginning of the exploration, as you can see they are focused on identifying their own features. They were able to point out that they're all kids, they all have the same features (eyes, nose, mouth, etc.) They all wear the same uniform. And they are all friends.
The pre-k kids are going to create collage portraits as well, except they will be using loose parts. We will identify the parts of the face and use buttons, jewels, feathers, pom poms and other materials to create these facial features.