Hand tracing is one of those fundamental preschool activities that we just never ever tire of and it's really no wonder. Tracing hands as an artistic expression dates all the way back 31,000 years when artists were using their hands as stencils by spraying paint through a reed around them, by pressing their hands in paint and making imprints on walls, and by brushing ochre around the hand as it lay against the rock's surface.
And when we see these ancient impressions we feel something. We see the hand raised in class. "Present! I know!" We see the "hands up" gesture of good will and vulnerability. We see the statement "I was here." Every time our little artists trace their hands they are saying the exact same thing today. "I was here."
Hand tracing develops a child's fine motor skills and it also works that part of the brain that allows us to multi-task. Holding one hand still as the other carefully manipulates the charcoal, paint brush, crayon or pencil around each little fat-knuckled digit requires real focus!
Once the hand is immortalized on paper there are so many ways to manipulate it artistically: colour around the hand, colour in the hand, add jewelry, cut the hand out, do family portraits in traced hands, turn the hand into an animal or leaf, add the arms and send it is a hug in the mail!
Most importantly, keep in mind - this is not just some random craft that your child has made. Sure it goes on the fridge and will ultimately end up in the bin but by undertaking this simple act of tracing their hand, your child has become part of an artistic movement that dates all the way to Here. Now.