Social Emotional Learning allows students to explore and express their thoughts and feelings. Instead of ignoring what is lying below the surface, teachers can provide students opportunities for self-exploration, expression, and understanding in a safe way. One beautiful and easy way we can bring Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into a classroom is through Art. In this article, I’ll dive on into a process I like to call “Mindful Art Moments” that allows educators to create an atmosphere of peace, empowerment, and discovery with little to no art mediums and planning. Grab a pencil and let’s make some art!
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What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process of development of self-awareness, exploration and understanding of thoughts and feelings, self-control, exploration and understanding of identity, and interpersonal skills that are valuable both for teaching the whole child (mind and body), but are essential for learning and being able to learn, then eventually a career. SEL helps students better understand and identify their emotions, understand their emotions, then of course, will help them recognize this in others. It will allow them to build empathy and develop and maintain healthy relationships with others.
What are Mindful Art Moments?
Mindful Art Moments are beautiful art activities that require little prep and can be done at any time of the day and allow students to silently sketch while becoming aware of the moment and fall into a world of self-awareness. They are activities where all you need to do is ask your students to get “something to draw with” and “something to draw on”. With Mindful Art Moments (MAMs), you are setting up an environment in your classroom that is calm, safe, quiet, and peaceful and then allow your students to create/draw/make/build for 10 – 15 minutes without saying anything. That is it. No prompts, no instructions beyond “silently sketch or make art”. It is simple, it is beautiful and provides any human of any age an opportunity to sit and draw.
The magic? Well if you’ve ever sat down and drawn, you’ll know that when you draw, you’re immediately required to dive on into your imagination for ideas, thoughts, and inspiration. It is hard to make art without diving deep into one’s thoughts and feelings. The act of sitting and focusing on the moment through drawing is a natural invitation to let these feelings, our ideas, and thoughts flow in like a soft trickle that develops into a stream against the curbside in a rainstorm. It always starts with a few drops of rain, then as time passes, the drops accumulate into volumes.
This is often an uncomfortable feeling. It is important as educators to let students ease into this process. I often would notice that students were reluctant to participate in this activity at the beginning. Some would sit, stare at paper, and do nothing. Which was fine. Maybe that was what they needed in that moment. I am sure they were still participating in being mindful or listening to their thoughts at some level. They were not “doing nothing”.
As you do this more and more (usually by the third session), you will have noticed a shift in your classroom where students actively and immediately engage with the activity in their own way, each embarking on their own adventure of self-awareness.
And all take is for an educator to dim the lights, turn on soft background music, and provide students with something to draw on and something to draw with.
Lesson Plan: Mindful Art Moments, Social Emotional Learning Art Lesson
LESSON DESCRIPTION: Students will participate in a Social Emotional Learning Activity that will allow them to have an opportunity to be self-aware and explore their thoughts, feelings, and ideas through Visual Art. This is a Choice-Based activity where students will choose what to create and what to create with and it is about the learning process and self-awareness and not necessarily the end product.
AGE GROUP: Any age.
Before the Lesson: Have “something to draw on” available. You can choose to provide “something to draw with” OR let students use what they have brought with them or have available in their pencil boxes.
IDEAS FOR SOMETHING TO DRAW ON:
paper, colored paper, cardstock, watercolor paper, construction paper, sketchbook, journal, large paper, small paper, white boards, cue cards, on top of pages out of old books, etc.
IDEAS FOR SOMETHING TO DRAW WITH:
pencil, pen, scissors, paintbrush and paint (watercolor or tempera paint cakes), oil pastels, soft pastel, chalk, felt markers, wax crayons, pencil crayons/colored pencils,
SET-UP THE ENVIRONMENT:
-Have Something to Draw on Available and Something to Draw with if it is beyond what is in their pencil box.
-Dim your classroom lights or turn them of and turn on lamps.
-Turn on a soft music playlist on YouTube, Spotify or your Favorite music player OR you can turn on a livestream video of animals or eagles, or an aquarium on Explore.org
START THE LESSON:
- Begin the lesson. In a calm voice, explain that “we are going to do a “Mindful Art Moment”. We are going to draw and make art.. calmly.. silently. We will draw anything that comes to mind. Whatever idea, thought, or emotion you have… put it onto your paper in anyway you want. Use any art medium you would like to use to express your thoughts… feelings.. or ideas. We are not going to talk. We are not going to worry about what we create or what our friends are creating. We are going to focus on ourselves, become self-aware, and simply enjoy this beautiful art making moment. This is a safe place and we are going to be respectful of the art and ideas of ourselves and that of others. Just do your best and enjoy this Mindful Art Moment.”
- Teacher instructs students to select “Something to Draw on and Something to Draw with”.
- When students are seated with their art making supplies, teacher guides students through mindful breathing before they begin to draw. “We are going to do a few deep breaths to relax before we make art. Take a deep breath in… and slowly exhale. Inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale….”
- “We are now going to begin our Mindful Art Moment. Please remember that this is a calm, safe, and respectful environment. We are going to make art silently for ____ Minutes (10-15).”
- Teacher dims lights if hasn’t already, turns on music or live cam then participates in the activity themself to model self-awareness.
- After ___ Minutes, teacher stops music and simply says “Thank You for Participating in a Mindful Art Moment”.
- Teacher leads a whole class discussion:
-“What did you learn through this process?”
-“How did you feel before?”
-“How do you feel now?’
-“What was happening within you when you were silently making art?”
-“What did you notice during this activity?”
-“What did you learn about yourself today?”
Extend The Learning: After you Build a Routine
After you build a routine, you can try extending. Maybe have your students teach this activity to a little buddy class. Perhaps they can write a mindful art prompt or design an art piece from a collection of their sketches or based on the experience or what they learn about themselves. Maybe they research a thought or feeling that occurs often during these moments to further self-discovery and awareness. Maybe students write journals or reflections on the experience and what they felt. Maybe you try doing this outside on a field, on the playground. Maybe they lie under a table or desk and draw with flashlights. Have fun and let your students come up with ideas too!
Mindful Art Moment (MAM) Prompts
After you build a routine out of this, you can try to introduce some prompts to build into the activity.
-Draw the thoughts that come into your mind during the MAM
-Draw what you’re feeling right now
-Draw something that makes you happy
-Draw something from your culture
-Create an artwork that shows who you are (identity)
-Create a master doodle page of all the things you love
-Draw things that make you feel anxious or worried
-Draw something that makes you feel calm and safe
-YOUR IDEAS HERE!
DOWNLOAD THE LESSON PLAN FOR FREE
I have formatted this lesson for you for free as a printable with additional worksheets that you can download and use as a lesson plan in your classroom! You can find it in my TeachersPayTeachers store. I would love to hear how this goes for you so please leave a review after you download and let me know how it goes!
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Kathleen McGiveron (Ms Artastic)
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