Upper Elementary & Middle School Hand Self-Portraits - Art and Writing Activity

In this engaging lesson perfect for back-to-school, elementary, middle school and high school ELA and art students create a hand self-portrait. The hand includes a core belief that describes who they are as a person and a personal narrative. Zentangle patterns are added to create fun, bright and amazing artwork!
Here are the basics:
  • Medium: Watercolor pencils and ink on watercolor paper
  • Project Length: 2-3 days
  • Grade: 6-12
  • Objectives:
    • Use the creative process by creating thumbnails of line designs.
    • Create meaning in a piece of art through the use of a narrative.
    • Explore the use of repetition and variety to create rhythm and unity in a piece of art.
    • Learn to apply elements of art with good craftsmanship.
    • Use effective technique and well chosen details in stream of consciousness writing.
    • Create a narrative written in a logical sequence.
    • Maintain a consistent tone and point of view in narrative.
    • Identify central theme of narrative and apply it to the artwork.
  • Materials: Thick paper (watercolor paper if you have it), your choice of watercolor pencils, watercolor paint or colored pencils., pencils, Sharpie Marker, paint brushes (if using paint), water cups (if using paint)
  • Link to full lesson with video demonstrations and Zentangle idea starters!

The Process

First, trace your hand in pencil, then go over with a thin Sharpie. Next create a fun border around the edge of your paper.(your hand should overlap this border).

Write a word or create an image in the center of your palm that you identify with, either a core belief or that describes who you are as a person. Trace everything in Sharpie or permanent marker. 

This is what you art should look like now.

Practice some Zentangle patterns first, then apply them to the hand portion of your art. Use at least 3 different patterns or combine them to create a unique look. 

 Add color and then lastly fill in the negative space with words that describe you. Start with this line..."My name is… I am the son/daughter of…"

 Student Example Inspiration: 


This is an amazing way to get to know your students and makes a wonderful display for Back-to-School night! Have fun creating with your students! Want to make it easy to teach? Check out the links below!


Shopify Hand Self-Portrait Lesson