10 Creative Art Therapy Activities for Emotional Wellness

You can include art therapy activities at home or school in children's daily routines. By understanding their thoughts and emotions better, you can help them learn about feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. These activities can lead to strong emotional health for children.

Here are some art therapy activities for kids:

Emotional Wellness

1 – Feeling Faces Drawings

Feeling faces drawings are simple art activities for children to express and learn about emotions. You only need paper, drawing and coloring materials, and a mirror.

Start by teaching the child about different emotions. Show them pictures or use facial expressions to demonstrate feelings like happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, and more. Use the mirror to practice different expressions and point out what changes in the face with each emotion.

On paper, guide the child to draw faces showing different emotions and label each. If they're feeling big emotions, invite them to draw faces that represent their feelings.

2 – Mindful Coloring

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment, even if distracted by thoughts of the past or future. Mindful coloring is a great way to stay in the present while coloring. You only need coloring books with mandalas or other intricate designs and coloring materials.

Ask the child to pick a page from the book that appeals to them. Mandalas are a great choice because they're detailed and allow for mindful coloring. Start the activity by letting them take a few deep breaths to release tension.

Next, instruct them to start coloring while paying attention to what's happening now. This could be the feel of the pencil in their hand, the texture of the paper, or how the pencil moves on the paper.

Ask them to take their time and focus on completing the page while maintaining mindful awareness.

3 – Expressive Self-Portrait as Art Therapy

An expressive self-portrait is an art activity that helps kids reflect on their feelings. You'll need a mirror or a reference photo, drawing or painting materials, and paper or another canvas. If using a mirror, position the child so they can see their face while working, allowing them to observe their features and emotions.

Next, ask them to begin the self-portrait with a rough sketch of their face. It doesn't need to be perfect; the goal is to convey the emotions they are experiencing. Encourage them to focus on the basic shapes of the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Once the sketch is done, ask the child to add a color to the portrait that represents their mood. You can also encourage them to experiment with bold colors and unique designs.

4 – Emotion Collage

Emotion collage is an art activity that helps kids express their feelings. Gather magazines or printed images, scissors, glue, and sturdy paper. Encourage your child to flip through the magazines and cut out images, facial expressions, body language, or scenes that resonate with them.

Next, instruct them to arrange and glue the cutout images onto the paper to recreate the emotion they are feeling. They can add personal touches by drawing additional elements or writing words that show their feelings. Afterward, ask them questions about the emotion they presented and why they selected the images.

5 – Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is a personal notebook where kids can write down what they are thankful for. This practice aims to build a positive mindset that acknowledges the good aspects of their life, even when facing challenges.

To combine the benefits of creative expression and gratitude practice, kids can create gratitude collages, draw expressions of gratitude, or express their emotions through art in the journal. The key is to establish a journaling routine, whether daily, weekly, or another schedule.

6 – Guided Imagery Drawing

Guided imagery is a relaxation technique using mental imagery to promote a sense of calm. It is 'guided' because kids are led through a series of spoken suggestions by a guide or recorded script to encourage them to imagine specific scenes or sensations. For example, children might imagine a peaceful garden or a magical forest.

You can create a simple guided imagery script or find one online. Encourage the child to put their guided imagery experience onto paper through drawing.

You can ask questions to help them understand what to draw. For instance, ask, "Which colors best convey the emotions you experienced in this particular scene?" This will remind them that they can draw what they imagine and describe their emotions.

7 – Affirmation Stones

Affirmation stones are small, smooth rocks that have been personalized with empowering messages. These stones can serve as a reminder to kids of positive thoughts.

You will need smooth stones, painting materials, and positive affirmations.

On a clean stone, ask the child to write affirmations such as "I am loved" or "I am strong." They can add symbols, drawings, and decorations to personalize the stones. You can also apply a clear sealant over the stones to preserve the artwork.

Once the stones are ready, the child can reflect on the affirmations and use them as positive reminders. Keep the stones in a particular place or let the child carry them in a pocket.

8 – Emotion Masks

Emotion masks is a creative art therapy activity where children can design masks to explore their emotions. These masks can be used as a tool to help them understand, communicate, and cope with their feelings. The materials you need are plain masks and art supplies.

First, ask the child to choose one or more emotions they want to express on their masks. Ask them to decorate the masks using colors, shapes, and emotions. Remind them that the masks represent their expressions of feelings.

Afterward, you can create a reflective space to ask the child to share their thoughts on their chosen emotions.

9 – Positive Word Cloud

A positive word cloud visualizes words relating to positive emotions and affirmations arranged in a cloud-like formation. It can help kids practice the concept of positive thinking. Your child will need a sheet of paper and art materials.

Start by having a brainstorming session with your child to generate positive words. Ask them to think of words that make them feel happy, loved, and confident. Then, you can help them in creating a word cloud.

In the center of the sheet of paper, have them write a central word such as "happiness" or "positivity." Around this word, they can write other positive words in a cloud-like formation. Encourage them to express their artistic side using different colors, shapes, and illustrations.

10 – Clay Creations

Creating with clay can be a therapeutic activity for kids who are going through big emotions. The emphasis of this activity is on the process rather than the final product. The materials you will need are clay and some sculpting tools.

In a quiet and comfortable place, encourage the child to think about their feelings. Then, ask them to choose colors and shapes that represent their emotions. For instance, bright colors represent happiness, and dark colors represent more complex feelings.

Let them start sculpting the clay freely. They can create objects, characters, or abstract shapes. Since clay is a tactile material, ask them to feel the texture of the clay and enjoy the sensory experience.

Tips for Implementing Art Therapy for Emotional Wellness at Home or in School

Always begin by discussing emotions with children so they can recognize and label different emotions they may be experiencing. This also introduces children to an emotional vocabulary for expressing their feelings. Moreover, it also helps them realize that it's okay to feel various emotions and that there are healthy ways to express them and cope.

After the art therapy activity, having time for self-reflection and discussion is also helpful. This way, children can process their emotions and understand the meaning behind their creations.

Some kids might not know what they're feeling, and this can help them identify and name their emotions.

Additionally, the discussion time can help children link their artwork to real-life experiences.

Final Thoughts on Art Therapy to Increase Child Emotional Wellness

Art is a special way for kids to show their feelings. Through art therapy activities, children can understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences and learn to manage them in a healthy way. This can lead to emotional wellness.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to create because art is a safe space to explore emotions. Remind them to enjoy the process because art creation is a journey and not a destination.

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