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Observational Drawing: Self Portraits

November 18, 2020 | Sossi Essajanian

Observational drawing supports children’s learning in many ways.

It helps them…

  • observe closely
  • develop fine motor skills
  • work slowly
  • record what they actually see instead of what they think it looks like
  • work on spacial reasoning
  • strengthen memory
  • Analyze 3D forms
  • represent 3D objects in 2D


By noticing details, understandings deepen and questions are provoked.



This week the children used mirrors begin their first self-portraits. They were done over a few days, step by step.

The children first traced their face, eyes, ears, nose, hair and other details with their fingers. Then the second step was to use their finger to “draw” on the paper what they traced, and finally, with flair pen in hand, they carefully created the shapes as they had planned.

This is one way the children are practicing observational drawing.

The children started with their face and eyes, using the mirror to see where their eyes start, how far away they are, and what shapes are found in the eye.

Then they added their nose and mouth, thinking about where the nose started and how far away the mouth is from the chin and nose.

The next few days the children will add ears, hair, and details.

Stay tuned!

Sossi Essajanian

Teacher, Sky Class

Sossi Essajanian is excited to continue her teaching and learning journey at the Mustard Seed School. She began teaching at the United Nations International School where she worked with children and colleagues from around the world. This inspired her to take a primary teaching position abroad in Nicosia, Cyprus, where she lived and worked for two years.

Ms. Essajanian has a passion for supporting children’s social/emotional skills and learning through a loving and caring classroom community. These are built on creating shared understandings and opportunities for children to identify and express their feelings and of those around them. She believes in creating experiences through pair and group work where learning blossoms through social experiences.

Ms. Essajanian also enjoys reading and talking about books and continues to pursue her second passion: editing. She’s worked in various editorial capacities in newspapers, magazines, and books. She was recently excited to serve as the development editor of a children’s book about engineering and is looking forward to leading some tinkering investigations of her own with her students!

In her free time Ms. Essajanian runs, swims laps, and likes to take long walks to explore the world around her.

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