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Reflected Name Drawing, a fun first day of school drawing activity!

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci wrote in his journals using mirror writing? He wrote from right to left and it could only be read using a mirror. What an amazing thing to be able to do! In this Reflected Name Drawing project students will learn how to draw their name in mirror writing.

If you are looking for a fun first day or first week art activity this is the one to do. It makes for a great elementary aged project, but believe it or not I also used to do this project with my high school students and they loved it! It's simple, fun and it will give you time to learn their names! Warning: Don't try this on the first day of Kindergarten, it's way too hard. I would skip kindergarten all together, their writing skills are just not there yet and this can leave them and you very frustrated.

If you read my old blog post you know that I planned to start a Specialist Pod in my backyard. I have since decided that it would be more beneficial to focus on a School Work Pod, so that is what we have done. If/when we go back to school I will turn my pod into an after school art class, but for now I have a total of 4 First Graders coming over two times a week to complete their work.

Yesterday was my first day with all four kids, and we had a total of 8 zooms. If you have young kids you know how painful zooms can be for most of them. So I decided to fill the time in between zooms with art enrichment activities. Today we did Reflected Name Drawings.

Materials: Paper, pencil, eraser, sharpie, markers and/or colored pencils

Instructions: Step one, ask students to fold their paper like a hotdog. Show them how to do it. Next ask them to lay their paper down with the opening on the top. Then explain how they will be drawing their name using large letters to fill up the page. Most importantly each letter should touch the bottom of the fold of the paper. Ask them to first draw their name using their finger. Asking a young child to draw something first with their finger helps them figure out spacing. One of the biggest mistakes with little kids is they make letters too big and then they cannot fit their whole name on the page, practicing writing or drawing with just a finger first helps them figure out spacing. Next give them a pencil and have them write their name.

After they write their name in pencil they can go over it with a sharpie. At this point review correct sharpie usage. Sharpies are for paper only, not skin, not tables, etc. I save the cardboard backs of pads of paper and use them whenever we are using sharpies. It keeps the sharpies from bleeding through the paper onto the tables (see below).

Once they have their name drawn in sharpie they should turn their paper over and trace it. You can usually see the sharpie through the paper, but a light table helps, or holding the paper up to a window really helps. If you are using copy paper like we did they will be able to see through it. If they ask you for help at this part, or any part, encourage them to be a brave artist and do it on their own. After both sides have been drawn over in sharpie they can open up the paper and see the mirror image of their name.

Ask them to turn their paper vertical, can they see anything? Perhaps show them how O's can become eyes and N's can be turned into a mouth. Then sit back and let their imaginations get to work. At this point it becomes process art. If you don't know what process art is take a minute to read my short blog post about the benefits of process art here! They may ask you, Can I do a background? Sure! Can I connect my letters with lines? Sure! They are the artists, let them experiment and have fun with it!

Give them some markers or colored pencils and let them add color! They will tell you when they are done. When they are finished you can ask them to tell you about their art. Here is a fun little read about how to talk to your kids about their art.

With my high school students I had them write their names in cursive, this sometimes led to more interesting drawings, but it is not necessary. You will have to give them a lesson in cursive first, because it is not typically taught in school these days. Try this with your students and let me know how it turns out!

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