a grid of 12 samples of mosaic self-portraits in diverse skin colors, hair colors, skin tones, etc.

Mosaic Self-Portraits

From “Activities to Understand Racial Identity” in Experiential Activities to Introduce Identity, Culture, Class, Gender, and Inclusion 



  • To give young people an opportunity to reflect on their unique skin tones



  • Download the Mosaic Self Portrait Sample and make one copy. 

  • Construction paper in shades of brown (People Colors Craft Paper found at Lakeshore Learning is ideal) ripped into smaller squares and placed in various baskets

  • Colored construction paper (red, yellow, blue, green orange, purple)

  • Glue sticks (one per participant)

  • Pieces of white eleven-by-fourteen-inch construction paper for each participant to use as a canvas



  • None



  1. Explain to participants that you will be introducing a unit on identity and that it will include deep personal reflection about where we come from and what makes us unique. Explain that as part of this topic you will be exploring the concept of diversity in skin color. 

  2. Explain that each participant will create a mosaic self-portrait—a picture of themselves.

  3. Explain that a mosaic is a picture created with small pieces of some material.

  4. Explain that the material used in this project will be ripped pieces of paper.

  5. Show participants the ripped pieces of paper in many different colors at the supply station.

  6. Explain that participants can choose unlimited shades of brown.

  7. Encourage students to further rip paper if they want different shapes for their mosaic self-portraits.

  8. Each participant should take one glue stick.

  9. Participants can try different techniques with the glue. They can apply glue onto the paper and stick the paper down over the glue or they can “butter” each piece of paper individually.

  10. When participants are about halfway through, put out the colored construction paper and explain that they may now choose ONE accent color from the supply of colored construction paper to add to their self portrait.

  11. Once participants have completed their artworks, ask each artist to share their self-portrait with the circle.

  12. Ask participants to share their artworks by completing the phrase, “What I love about me is…” 



  • What is beautiful about each of these portraits? 

  • What do all of these portraits have in common? What do all of us have in common?

  • What makes each of them unique? 

  • What did using the skin-tone-colored paper bring up for you in this project? 

  • What do you notice about the skin color each of you chose for your portraits?

  • What does the word diversity mean to you?

  • What other types of diversity do we have in this group, besides skin tone? (Some examples might be eye color, hair texture, gender, etc.)