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Challenging Little Artists: Tracing Reflected Images

parallel drawing
My kids adore drawing, and my four-year-old especially enjoys tracing so when I saw this Magic Tracer by ALEX Toys, I knew I wanted to see what they would do with the challenge of tracing a reflected image. The Magic Tracer is very nifty – the plastic piece in the middle reflects the image from one side onto the other, and then you can trace it – like this:
tracing a reflected image
See how it’s a mirror image? Tracing this way is much more challenging than tracing with tracing paper, because your hand blocks part of the reflection. The picture above was Johnny’s first attempt – he then moved to partial tracing:
partially traced, partially made-up image
And on to completely unrelated images. The Magic Tracer fits perfectly in my bag, and holds paper and pencils, so we’ve pulled it out several times since I took these pictures (at the end of October), and each time he does the same thing – traces quite accurately at first, and then moves on to more abstract art.
creative four-year-old drawings

The Magic Tracer is recommended for ages five and up, so Johnny is a bit young. I think he will enjoy it more and more as he gets better at tracing the reflected image. Three-year-old Lily doesn’t grasp the concept of tracing the reflection at all, but she LOVES using the Magic Tracer for parallel drawing with Johnny:






Lily also uses this as an ordinary drawing case. It holds several small sheets of paper and writing utensils beautifully, and I love that it keeps everything neat and tidy in my bag.

Have you ever tried tracing a reflected image? When I was a high school student, we used an overhead projector to project an image onto piece of set, and then we had to trace the image to create a tropical forest backdrop. It was a very similar process – your own shadow would block part of the image, so you were really seeing what you about to trace, rather than what you were actually tracing. I found it challenging, but fun – and that seems to be my kids’ reaction to this toy! I love that the challenge also encourages them to start tracing, but then move on in their own creative direction – so Johnny will copy part of a monster, but then finish it based off of his own imagination, instead of the original image.

Do your kids have a toy that they use in a different way from how it was intended but that is a lot of fun – like how Johnny and Lily parallel draw with this toy?

I was given this toy as a blogger for ALEX Toys. All opinions are my own, and I only write about products that I think would interest my readers.

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

15 thoughts on “Challenging Little Artists: Tracing Reflected Images”

  1. That’s really cool! I’ve never seen something with the plastic in the middle to trace a mirror image. So cute how Lily wants to draw parallel to Johnny. :)

    1. They can’t actually both trace at the same time – it has to have a slight incline for the reflection to work – but they love using it side by side anyhow :)

  2. What a great challenge for your art-loving kiddos, and I LOVE the results! Most of our toys are open-ended, so I don’t think they can be used in an unintended way. I hadn’t thought about it!

  3. It looks fun! Some kids would really love the challenge of drawing a reflected image and I like how you can deviate from that task as well if you rather do a different kind of drawing. And I love how Lily is so clear and helpful with her brother on how to connect the lines! What a nice sister!

  4. That looks like a lot of fun! My kids use most of their toys for purposes they weren’t intended for. Toy pliers to “cut” my hair, pattern blocks to make soup and cylinder blocks have recently become binoculars. It cracks me up when she holds the blocks over her eyes completely obscuring her view and says “look Mama, I’ve spotted a leopard” – while bumping into a chair.

  5. We haven’t really done much tracing here, but I see how it could be fun to trace a reflected image. It looks like Johnny is really enjoying this toy.

  6. I used to have one of these as a kid and used it for the longest time.

    I’m sure I have oodles of toys that my kids don’t use for their intended purposes. Oodles and oodles of toys.

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