I first did this lesson with 6th graders in middle school. However, last year I tried it out with 5th graders and they did a great job too.
We looked at Colonial times and how they used silhouette portraits as a cheap alternative to painted portraits. Then we looked at one of my favorite artists, Kara Walker and talked about her silhouette installations. (Note: you will have to do some editing for the younger eyes). Finally I made silhouettes hit home for the kids. We talked about commercials and how they use silhouettes. We discussed reasons why they might use this art technique. The kids decided that the advertisers are trying to get us to focus more on the products and less on the people using them. Smart kids. Check out these videos: Ipod and Coldplay.
Before class, I take a profile picture of every student and print them out to 4x6 black & white.
Students get a 8x12 piece of white paper. They make a one inch graph on top and label the columns and row with letter and numbers. Then they get their printed photo. They do a half inch graph on top of the photo and label it with the same letters and numbers. Then they get a colored pencil or thin marker and draw a line around their profile in the picture. The find the matching box from the picture graph to the larger graph and try to copy the same line they see.
(I didn't post a photograph for privacy reasons, sorry...)
Anyway, this is a challenge for the kids, but they can do it! Encourage! Demonstrate! Support!
Students cut out their profile.
Then we talk about complementary colors and the students pick a pair. They trace their profile on one of the colors and glue it down on the color.
Parents love them and they make great keepsakes.