History is the story of people—famous and not so famous—including kids! For years portraits have been an important way of recording our history and the people who make it. From the very formal portraits taken of the very rich many years ago, to the “selfies” of today, portraits tell the stories of families and the culture of the times in which they were taken.


Babies love faces and spend a great deal of time studying them and imitating them. Show your baby the faces in the portraits. Point out the parts of the face on the portrait first, and then on both your face and on theirs. It is through this careful study of faces that babies start to learn about emotions as well so talk about how the people in the portraits might be feeling.


As toddlers, children begin to recognize themselves in mirrors and photos and are able to identify body parts on themselves and others. Look in the mirror and ask your child whom they see. Ask them to point to hands, legs, arms, tummies, and other body parts in the portraits and on themselves.


Preschoolers are now able to create their own self-portraits and to identify family members and friends in photos. In addition, they are now able to create stories about the photos they see. Ask your child to tell you a story about one of the portraits and who they think is in the portrait. When you get home, ask your child to draw their own portrait.