Art Bridges: Lesson Plans For Enrichment, Growth and Healing

The following resources were carefully selected to be used by existing staffs at various institutions, organizations and facilities that work with a wide variety of audiences with varying ages, needs and interests. No vast amount of artistic ability and experience are necessary to implement these lessons. The majority of lessons are designed for enrichment and growth but under the direction of counselors/therapists, the lessons can be adapted for use in the healing/therapeutic process. No one can replace a licensed art/music therapist or art teacher; however, when it is not possible to have access to these professionals, existing staffs can still offer wonderful opportunities for clientele to be touched by the artistic process in meaningful ways.

For those facilitators/counselors/therapists creating art with autistic individuals, please refer to the article “Art and Autism” included with this project. There are special considerations and strategies for working with these individuals that will help to make art experiences successful, enriching and enjoyable.

Abstract Scratch Art

This visual art lesson was developed by Cheryl Trowbridge and is inspired by the art of artist Paul Klee. Art elements included in the lesson are positive and negative spaces, line, pattern and color. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Alphabet Art

This is another Cheryl Trowbridge visual art lesson that is inspired by the artist Jasper Johns. The lesson uses patterns, colors, symbols and negative and positive space to help the participants create designs. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences.   (Enrichment/Growth)

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Art and Autism

This article, with contributions from Occupational Therapists Mary Ebers and Diane Boney and art teacher Anna Alcalde, gives concrete recommendations and suggestions for using art to work with autistic students. Art is an excellent way for autistic individuals to express themselves when verbal communication may be difficult. Patience, flexibility and adaptation are key to working with this unique population. (Resource for Facilitators)

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Art Journaling

This lesson helps participants create art journals using visual art, writing and poetry for expression and reflection. The activity was developed by Kelley Luckett and includes a forward by Shelley Klammer with an additional download link for the Dick Blick Lesson plan “RX Art Journal”. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences. When administered by a therapist or counselor, this lesson can have therapeutic/healing adaptations(Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Art Resources

Eighteen outstanding resources for using art for therapy and creating art with adults and children alike are featured in this article.

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Blossoming Pop Corn Tree

This Cheryl Trowbridge visual art lesson invites participants to explore nature and use mixed media to create art. The lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences.  (Enrichment/  Growth)

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Burlap Stitching

Cheryl Trowbridge developed this visual art lesson based on the art form of samplers. The participants use needle and thread to create designs on burlap. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences for participants who can safely use needles and scissors.  (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Butterflies Inspired by Eric Carle

This Cheryl Trowbridge visual art lesson invites participants to explore nature and use mixed media to create art. The lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences.  (Enrichment/  Growth)

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Button Tree

This lesson developed by Anna Alcalde and used to work with Alzheimer’s patients in creating art can be adapted to all ages and audiences. The lesson involves using mixed media including paint and buttons. Creating the artwork can stimulate memories and create personal stories, especially as the “artists” sift through the buttons needed for the project. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Chilean Rain Sticks

This activity created by Cheryl Trowbridge invites the participants to create a musical instrument which has a rich history. This lesson can be adapted to all ages and audiences and could be used during music therapy classes.  (Enrichment/  Growth/Healing)

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Collage Journaling for Children

This activity developed by Shelley Klammer was designed to introduce the elements of art journals to children. It leads the participants through prompts to create their own journal pages using writing and art elements. Although this activity was designed for children, it could be useful in working with lower-functioning adults and could be adapted for all ages and audiences. When administered by a counselor/therapist, there may be therapeutic/healing benefits from the exercise. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Compass Mandalas

Cheryl Trowbridge’s activity introduces participants to the world of Mandalas. By using a simple geometric compass and color, the participants use symmetry, pattern and color to create and decorate their own mandalas. Coloring mandalas has a calming effect and can be useful in therapy sessions. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences who can safely use a compass.  (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Continuous Line “Ice Breaker”

This activity was contributed by Ann Williams as a great way for participants to be introduced to each other and use their creativity to connect. Ann has used this activity with young adults, but this 15-minute activity could be used by all ages and audiences to get acquainted and do a little drawing.  (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Creating a Safe Place and Kindness Tree: Growing Hearts in Kindness

The first part of this download is an article by Kristina Marcelli Sargent that provides counselors/therapists with methods that are beneficial for making clients feel safe and “at ease”. Although the article is geared toward children as clients, there are still valuable suggestions that are useful for all ages and audiences. The second portion of this download is an activity that asks the participants to reflect on actions and the importance of kindness when interacting with others. The “Kindness Tree” that can be created and used by the clients and counselors is a good way to monitor and record positive actions. This download could be adapted to all ages and audiences but would be especially useful for those who are trying to modify behavior.  (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Creating Art from Re-Purposed Materials

This lesson is comprised of a series of links to Dick Blick Lesson plans (Deconstructed Books, Rapper Art, Recycled Book Boxes, Sound Sculptures, Upcycled “Wild Thing” Mittens, Button Bracelets, Artist Canvas Painted Shoes, and Shoe Shrines) with the purpose of encouraging participants to use their imaginations and recycled or discarded materials that can be re-purposed to create art. These activities are suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Creative Conversations with Collage

This project by Shelley Klammer was originally designed for working with individuals with dementia. It can be adapted, however, for any clients who can enter into conversation with a family member, friend or counselor. The project is a perfect way to enter into conversation and bring back remembrances with a “partner” while creating art. This project is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Dense Text Lettering

Cheryl Trowbridge developed this lesson that utilizes the art elements of line, color and negative and positive space to create art. The lesson also incorporates personal writing (or quotes) into the art and can be used for inspiration or as a therapeutic tool to encourage and help focus and set goals with the clients. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences(Enrichment/   Growth/Healing))

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Echo Line Flowers

Another Cheryl Trowbridge lesson, “Echo Line Flowers” teaches elements of the color wheel and asks the participants to look to nature for their inspiration in creating art. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Emotion Painting

This activity created by Andrea Mulder-Slater asks participants to reflect on the various emotions that are part of their personalities and experiences and then explore the use of color in the expression of those emotions. The lesson also includes a link to “Emotions Color Wheel”, an outstanding resource from Deborah Davis at Do2Learn; the color wheel provides a visual descriptor of emotions and their intensity. This download is particularly useful for counselor/therapists in helping clientele identify their feelings, determine appropriate and inappropriate levels of reaction and help to realign emotions into a “healthy” range. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences(Enrichment/  Growth/Healing)

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Fabric Bowls

This lesson contributed by art therapist Christine Hennig, invites participants to create a bowl manipulating fabric and other materials. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences but Christine has found older clientele who have enjoyed sewing and using fabric in their past really enjoy the activity, especially if vision or fine motor skill impairments make it difficult for them to sew. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Father’s Day Ties

Cheryl Trowbridge used this activity with children as they created cards for Father’s day. The lesson teaches about the holiday of Father’s Day and also utilizes the art elements of color, line, symmetry and negative and positive spaces. Although this activity is currently designed for children, the basis of the activity can be adapted for other uses and audiences as well. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Feeling Faces Printable Coloring Sheet

This “feelings” chart can be downloaded, printed out and colored to help the participants describe their feelings. A color wheel with emotions corresponding to various hues is also included in this activity. Kristina Marcelli Sargent, the contributor of the “feeling faces” chart has used this activity with children during therapy sessions but this sheet could also be adapted for use by others, especially those who are non-verbal or low functioning(Healing)

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Feelings Mandala

This activity combines the calming attributes of coloring mandalas with helping clients identify the emotions they are experiencing. By assigning particular emotions to colors, the participants can also determine the intensity and frequency of their various positive and negative emotions. This activity was designed for use with children by Kristina Marcelli Sargent but can be easily be adapted to any age and audience. The act of coloring mandalas offers a calming effect. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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50 Faces Art Project

This activity was developed by Shelley Klammer and incorporates visual art elements to help participants create art using faces as the inspiration (based on the artwork of artist Carla Sonheim). The plan was designed for dementia patients, but it can be used by any audience and age group(Enrichment/Growth)

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Gratitude Tree

This activity by Gretchen Miller is a great way to combine reflection of blessings in our lives with nature and art. Therapists can adapt the lesson to other themes, such as “My Courage Tree” or my “Healing Tree”. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences.    (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Hands in Action

This lesson includes three components—two lessons use hands (an activity developed by Liz Shea-McCoy) and the full body (an activity developed by Susan Brasch) as the inspiration to create art. Color, line, pattern, symmetry and negative and positive space are the art elements used in this activity. In addition, a link to Dick Blick’s plan “Aboriginal Hand Prints” is included with this lesson. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences.      (Enrichment/Growth)

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Helping Bereaved Children: 20 Activities for Processing Grief

The article by Professors Imhoff, Vance and Quackenbush from Ohio University offers activities to help children in the grieving process. Children are the audience served by this article but therapists and counselors working with adults may find some helpful suggestions as well. (Healing)

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Helping Kids Express Their Grief

This resource provides a summary with links back to Jennie Wright-Parker’s website www.recover-from-grief.com . Jennie explores a number of avenues therapists and counselors can use to help children cope with the grieving process. This resource focuses on children as its audience; however, those who work with adults may also find some helpful suggestions and activities. (Healing)

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Holidays and Celebrations!

This resource developed by Cathy Harrington, Marilyn Stadler and Donna Williams offers several activities that will help participants create arts and crafts to celebrate various holidays. Included are pumpkin decorating, making Christmas stocks, and card making. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences.       (Enrichment/Growth)

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How to Create a Vision Board

Louise Gale designed this activity using the art form of Collage to help participants reflect on goals for themselves and then incorporate those goals into artwork using pictures, words and symbols. This activity can be used by any age or audience for a variety of purposes. Counselors or therapists may adapt this activity for those who are battling depression, addiction, PTSD or other issues. (Enrichment/    Growth/Healing)

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How To Set Up An Art Cart

Shelley Klammer is the author of this article which gives great ideas and lists of materials that can be incorporated in a traveling art cart. This article would be helpful for any organizations/institutions that do not have a designed space set aside for art activities or need art supplies to be mobile. (Informational Resource)

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Inside My Heart

This activity, which is available for download, was created by Kristina Marcelli Sargent. The activity is designed to help children use art and symbols to identify those who are important in their lives and reflect upon their feelings. Also included with this resource is a link to Dick Blick lesson plan “Family Tree”. Children or lower-functioning adults are the idea audience for this series of activities. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Introduction to the Art Form of Collage

This lesson inspired by Jean Martin gives the basics for creating art using collage. This lesson can be applied to a number of other activities included as resources for this project and should be referred back to prior to undertaking any collage activity. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences(Enrichment/   Growth)

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Intergenerational Stories

This activity was developed by Art Therapist Christine Hennig and invites children and senior citizens to work together to share stories and create art. This resource includes a link to Dick Blick lesson “Home Town Map”. The activity is intended for upper elementary to high school aged- children and senior citizens.   (Enrichment/Growth)

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Art Lesson Plans for a Joan Miro Drawing

This activity submitted by Marilyn Stadler is perfect for artists and non-artists. By rolling a dice and using an instruction sheet, the participants are led step by step in using this easy method to create a “creature”. This activity could be used by any audience and age group(Enrichment/Growth)

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Kitchen Art Ideas

This series of activities which use ingredients and equipment from the kitchen to create art was inspired by Jean Martin. Activities include: blow painting, finger painting with chocolate pudding and sweetened condensed milk, making modeling clay and painting tools you can find in the kitchen. Also included is a link to Dick Blick lesson plan “Egg-Stra Easy Egg Crunch”. This series of activities is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Making Masks and Tribes

This activity was developed by Susan Brasch and incorporates the art form of mask-making with the imagination of creating tribes. The participants are asked to brainstorm to share how their masks are uniquely used in their tribal customs. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences but may be most enjoyed for children and teens. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Mardi Gras Masks

This activity developed by Cathy Harrington and Marilyn Stadler uses art elements and the rich tradition of Mardi Gras to help participants create their own masks. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences(Enrichment/   Growth)

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Memory Frame

This lesson was developed by art therapist Christine Hennig and is designed to capture memories and use a variety of art materials to decorate a picture frame. This activity would be particularly helpful for someone going through the grieving process or for those with memory issues. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Mona Lisa Fact or Fiction

This is a fun article that encourages life-long learning. Cheryl Trowbridge developed this activity using the painting of Mona Lisa as the focal point for learning; however, a facilitator could use Cheryl’s format to share information and gain interest about any number of different individuals or other topics. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Music Enrichment

Board-Certified Music Therapist Rachel Rotert has provided multiple guided music enrichment activities for the following audiences:

Veterans

Adults recovering from addiction

Children with typical development

Children and adolescents recovering from trauma

Children with Autism

Children with cognitive disorders

Hospitalized children

Senior citizens

Each audience has specifically-designed activities as are outlined in individualized articles.

 (Enrichment/Growth/Healing)

My Story Collage

This activity using the art form of Collage as its focal point was designed by Cathy Harrington and Marilyn Stadler. This activity uses art elements as well as language to share individual stories of the participants in an artistic way. Therapists or counselors may be able to adapt this plan to help give a unique “voice” to their clientele. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences.    (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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My Story Quilt

This resource has several components. The first is the lesson developed by Cathy Harrington and Marilyn Stadler where participants tell their story through collage utilizing a quilt format. Next are links to three Dick Blick lesson plans that also use quilts as their themes: “Painted Story Quilt”, “Quilt Block Collage” and “Paper Memory Quilt”. These activities are suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Illustrated Name Tag Plate

This activity using the art form of Collage as its focal point was designed by Cathy Harrington and Marilyn Stadler. This activity uses art elements as well as language to share individual stories of the participants in an artistic way. Therapists or counselors may be able to adapt this plan to help give a unique “voice” to their clientele. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences(Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Name Tangles

This lesson developed by Cheryl Trowbridge is based on the art form of Zentangles®—doodling with purpose. The lesson teaches about line, pattern, color and positive and negative space while it offers the participants calm and relaxation during their “doodling” process. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Negative Space Tree Drawing

This is another Cheryl Trowbridge lesson which uses nature as the inspiration to create art, in particular trees. This project is perfect for late fall, winter or early spring when trees are without leaves. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences(Enrichment/   Growth)

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Oil Pastel Cats Inspired by Laurel Burch

This Cheryl Trowbridge lesson uses cats as the theme for creating art using oil pastels. The inspirational story of artist and humanitarian Laurel Burch is also shared. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Personal Stories and More

This series of activities helps participants reflect on their personal stories, histories and goals using a number of different forms. The lesson includes an introduction from historian and personal story writer Tom Gilbert and “story starters” by Pippa White to help participants get started writing their own stories. The format for a “Persona-Poem” with a collage component is contributed by Dr. Leslie Opp-Beckman. A link to Vera Snow’s article “Ten Steps for Creating a Personal Mandala” is also included. Finally, an adaptation/extension inviting participants to write their personal mission statement finishes this offering. This series of activities is suitable for all ages and audiences and may have therapeutic value when directed by a trained therapist or counselor.    (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Poetry and More

This is another series of activities surrounding the art form of poetry. Pippa White has shared instructions for writing a Cinquain Poem. Other poetry forms that are explored include Acrostic and Diamante poems. Visual art ideas connected with the poetry includes two links from Dick Blick: “Accordion Poetry” and “Illuminated Text”. This series of activities is appropriate for all ages and audiences but can also be used by therapists/counselors in working with clientele, helping them to express themselves in what may be non-traditional ways. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Positive Imaging Collage

This activity developed by Anna Alcalde uses the basics of collage to help participants focus on positive aspects of the lives.” I think it should be their lives. Any age or audience can enjoy this lesson but it may be particularly helpful for children, teens and those working on attaining a positive life style and self-image with counselors or therapists. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Put Yourself in a Safe Place: Engaging the Imagination

This is another series of activities surrounding the art form of poetry. Pippa White has shared instructions for writing a Cinquain Poem. Other poetry forms that are explored include Acrostic and Diamante poems. Visual art ideas connected with the poetry includes two links from Dick Blick: “Accordion Poetry” and “Illuminated Text”. This series of activities is appropriate for all ages and audiences but can also be used by therapists/counselors in working with clientele, helping them to express themselves in what may be non-traditional ways. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Quilling

This series of activities uses paper shaping and manipulation to create art. Instructions and art ideas from Ann Martin and Cheryl Trowbridge are included. These activites are suitable for all ages and audiences with the caveat that participants are able to physically use the tools necessary to quill in a safe manner. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Radio Theater

This activity invites participants to delve into the world of Radio Theater and provides suggestions and links from Fred Greenhalph, Tony Palermo and Simply Scripts to create a live performance of Radio Theater for an audience. This activity might be particularly enjoyable for senior citizens but any age group could enjoy re-creating Radio Theater. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Recommendations for Creating Art with Senior Citizens

This article gives concrete suggestions for building a successful art program to be enjoyed by senior citizens. (Resource for Facilitators)

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Recommendations for Using Art to Work With Alzheimer’s Patients

It is believed that memories are stored as images rather than words in our brains. Alzheimer’s does not take away the person’s memories but the access to them. Art is a way to get that access back. This article gives helpful suggestion and recommendations for using art to work with this unique audience. (Resource for Facilitators)

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Relaxation Tools Library

This article by Kristina Marcelli Sargent identifies “aids” people can use to calm themselves. Kristina’s article is geared for working with children, but adults can also benefit from some of the tools described in this article (stress balls, calming glitter bottle and rain sticks). Therapists and Counselors can use these tools for all ages and audiences to help their clients focus, calm and de-stress. (Enrichment/     Growth/Healing)

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Remembering Self—Remembering Others

This activity was adapted by Susan Brasch and invites participants to create a “ReMembering Box” to be used for individual purposes (as a way to remember others, as a keepsake box, and/or as a means of contemplation). This activity can be enjoyed by all age groups and audiences but the symbolism which may be incorporated in the activity may be particularly helpful when facilitated by a trained therapist or counselor to help those who are in the grieving and/or healing process.   (Enrichment/Growth/   Healing)

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Resist Painting

This lesson developed by Anna Alcalde teaches participants the art method of resist and incorporates the elements of line, color and negative and positive space to create art. This lesson is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Safe Place Pillow Case Project

This activity created by Kristina Marcelli Sargent helps participants to identify symbols and phrases that have a calming effect and promote a feeling of safety. This activity was developed for children but could be used by all ages and audiences; it may be particularly beneficial when facilitated by a trained therapist or counselor to help those who have suffered trauma to cope. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Self Portrait Collage

This lesson submitted by Marilyn Stadler and Cathy Harrington includes a link to Dick Blick lesson “Changing Faces”. The activity builds upon the basics of collage and allows the participants to express how they view themselves through words and phrases. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences and could be helpful when facilitated by a therapist or counselor to help clients reveal their true self images. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Shadow Tracing

This activity created by Cheryl Trowbridge takes the participants to the out of doors to observe shadows in nature which are used as the inspiration for creating simple art. This activity can be enjoyed by all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Show and Share Ice Breaker

This activity by Marilyn Stadler and Cathy Harrington is a great way to encourage participants to share information about their art interests and themselves. The activity is ideal for senior citizens but could be adapted and used by other audiences as well. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Soaring Into the Future

This activity contributed by “Behaven Kids” helps participants identify their positive strengths, then it uses visual art, poetry and symbolism to help discuss past trauma. The activity was integrated as the “narrative” component of the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Group. Although it was designed for children, this activity could be adapted for adults as well. (Enrichment/Growth)

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Spontaneous Art Therapy Activities for Teenagers

This article provides several activities designed to help participants overcome their apprehensions in creating art and look for their inner talents. Although these activities created by Shelley Klammer were earmarked for working with teens, some of the activities could be adapted to other age groups and audiences.     (Enrichment/Growth)

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Story Stones

Kristina Marcelli Sargent uses stones with pictures to help clients arrange the stones to tell their stories. In a counseling or therapeutic setting, these stones and the methods described can be helpful for children who have experienced trauma or for lower functioning individuals to provide a way to “verbalize” their story without using words.    (Enrichment/Growth/   Healing)

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Storytelling

Pippa White, actress and professional storyteller, shares insights into the art of storytelling in this lesson. Also included is a link to Scholastic’s “Tell us a Tale: Teaching Students to be Storytellers.” Not only will storytelling help participants to be good listeners and performers but it also helps the storyteller to gain confidence and poise. This lesson can be used for all ages and audiences.    (Enrichment/Growth)

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Thumb Print Self-Portrait

This activity was designed by Cheryl Trowbridge to help participants use their fingerprints to create art and tell their life stories. This lesson can be adapted to any age or audience and can be a wonderful vehicle for self-discovery and awareness. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Using Non-Traditional Materials to Create Art

Susan Brasch shares a series of activities which encourages participants to “think outside the box” to explore non-traditional materials and methods to create art. A link to Dick Blick lesson “Rhythm in Layers” in also included. These activities are suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth)

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Wild Side Calm Side Self Portrait

This activity uses color, shape, form and texture to help the participants communicate and illustrated their emotions when they feel calm and in control versus out of control and wild. Kathy Barbro used this activity with children but it could be easily adapted by a therapist or counselor working with other clients.   (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Word Pictures Ice Breaker

This lesson used and adapted by Susan Brasch invites the participants to identify words that have personal and emotional connotations and then use quick line drawing to use art to express those emotions. This activity can be enjoyed by all ages and audiences but may also be a helpful tool for therapists and counselors for helping their clients understand their emotions in a visual way. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Worry Dolls/Creatures

This activity introduces the Guatemalan Worry doll, a device used to identify worries and hopes and develop a coping mechanism. This activity is ideal for children but its symbolism can carry meaning for all ages and audiences. This lesson may be helpful when facilitated by a therapist or counselor(Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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Writing Short Stories as a Group in One Session

This activity posted on Teachers.net introduces the elements of a short story and then encourages a group effort in writing stories in one session. This lesson can be used for all ages and audiences and themes can be directed by a therapist or counselor for therapeutic purposes. (Enrichment/    Growth/Healing)

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“Zentangle®!” Art and Relaxation

Zemirah Jazwierska introduces “Zentangles®”, doodling with a meditative purpose. Participants will learn about the calming effects of this art form at the same time they incorporate the art elements of pattern, line, color and negative and positive space. Zentangles® can be helpful for use in coping and calming and could become a part of counseling/therapeutic sessions. This activity is suitable for all ages and audiences. (Enrichment/   Growth/Healing)

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