Social emotional learning (SEL) takes place across cultures and age groups. It should be encouraged and explored in every learning space, and the art room is no exception. Throughout history, art has been an outlet for positive and negative feelings, as inspiration often comes from times of intense feeling and self-awareness. Help students to explore self-awareness and emotions with these three project ideas for social emotional learning in art.
SEL Art Projects for the Classroom
The five key competencies of social emotional learning are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Start by discussing with your students how artists from cultures all over the world and throughout history have created art as they navigated life and learned about themselves and their relationships with others.
Colors and words allow artists to share their minds and experiences creatively. Give students examples of art pieces and ask them to share what they feel the artist was trying to portray. Follow up with a discussion of how textures, colors, images, and shapes all work together to convey a message without having to write it out.
These three projects can be simple for younger students or explored in more detail and complexity for students in Middle and Secondary art rooms. Use these ideas as starting points to bring SEL concepts into the art learning space.
Dream Catchers & Worry Dolls
During any given day, students experience bad feelings brought on by events or individuals. Many cultures have devised a way to release these bad thoughts and worries.
Artists from various cultures throughout the world have found creative ways to navigate their experiences with heavy emotions and stressful events. Students are learning and growing up while experiencing their own emotions and relationships. Social and emotional art from other cultures showcases outlets for emotions, both negative and positive. Two well-known examples are Dream Catchers and Guatemalan Worry Dolls.
Dream Catchers Project Kit
Guatemalan Worry Dolls Project Kit
Talk to your students about experiencing negative emotions and how productive outlets like dream catchers and worry dolls may help to acknowledge and release tension or negativity.
Visual Verbal Journaling
A Visual Verbal Journal is another creative way for artists to express emotions and experiences, both positive and negative. This is done by the creation of artwork paired with writing. Expressing feelings and emotions in a journal may help students acknowledge and release negative feelings while retaining positive ones.
Visual Verbal Journal Starter Supplies
More Opportunities for Social and Emotional Learning
If you’re looking for more ways to engage your students in social emotional learning at any age, be sure to visit the Social and Emotional Learning tag page. For more art lesson plans and ideas for new projects, visit the Art Lesson Plan tag page.
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