Topic 4 Age-appropriate creative expression activities

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    Art can be a means for healing and communication for younger children & teenagers. It is very important to foster creative environments especially during crises and disruption.
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    Children lack the developmental ability to understand, express & process traumatic experiences. Using creative methods like drawing, colouring & photography, will help younger children who are still developing their language skills, to share their experiences, relieve stress & process what occurs in their lives.
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    Teenagers can also benefit from a pressure-free, consequence-free creative medium to express their thoughts & feelings.

The postcard activity for students 12-18

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    Ask students to reflect on a situation they felt frustrated, angry, upset, or sad. Spend a moment reflecting on what happened, how it felt, and what they would like to let the person know about how the experience made them feel.
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    On the blank side of the postcard, ask students to draw or create a visual representation of how they feel about the experience.
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    On the lined side of the postcard, students can write what they would like to say if they could.
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    What they drew and wrote can help them explore their emotions further and consider can work towards healing

Words to live by collage, for students 12-18

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    Teens are vulnerable to judgmental environments- they may suppress their real character to avoid censure from their peers
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    It is essential to identify their core values & who they think they really are
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    You need: old magazines/newspapers, markers/coloured pencils, scissors, glue, cardboard paper for the base of the collage
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    Ask students to think of words, phrases, colours shapes that represent their values. They can also think of songs or poets that represent them
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    Invite them to use the props to express their values, reflecting their words to live by

Colour your feelings activity, for students 12-18

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    An activity designed to help children express their emotions about things that make them happy.
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    Ask students to take a moment to reflect on the things that make them happy- what makes them feel good? What words, images, colours would they use to describe these things?
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    Ask them to fill the heart with what they have just been thinking and talking about.
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    Use what they created as a discussion point to help them understand the things that make their heart happy- how often do these things happen for them?

Creative movement and dance – teaching strategies for ages 6-12

“Meet Little Monster,” a mental health colouring & activity book created for young children as a tool to express & explore their feelings in a fun, creative and empowering way & to help foster dialogue between children and the safe adults in their lives.

It has been made by NAMI and is available for free download in English & Spanish.

Drawing game: the Squiggle, ages 5-10

Craft activities for children 3-6:

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    Keep a ‘busy box’ of new and recycled play materials e.g. string, paper scraps, stickers, straws etc. The student can use them to make whatever they want.
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    Give the student an empty cardboard box to decorate. They might make a house, a robot, a costume, a truck, an animal – whatever want.
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    Use empty kitchen rolls, small plastic juice bottles or old gloves or socks to make puppets.
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    Go on a nature walk to look for natural materials to make art- they can use these to draw, make a collage or dip into paint.
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    Use apps or computer programs to make digital art e.g. there are apps for free drawing or arranging photos into collages.

For children 3-6

Books to read with children after a tragedy for children 3-6

Doodling for all ages

  • Doodles or colouring books helps to relax students’ minds and takes them away from screens
  • Younger children love to experiment, play with colour, shape & pattern with no fixed outcome
  • The simplest ideas are the best- no need for expensive art materials and colouring books to keep them creative

You can start by asking students to draw small circles on paper and colour them in with marker pens