20 Healing Art Therapy Activities For Kids, Teens, And Adults

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The healing power of art is beneficial for people of all ages. It serves as a safe and effective way of expressing any thoughts and feelings. For art teachers, planning each class around an activity or theme can help you pinpoint an important focus for the day. Here are 20 art therapy activities to help your students find their inner creativity, peace, and inspiration.

5 Online Art Therapy Activities

Online art therapy activities provide a unique opportunity to stay connected to your students, no matter where they are. Here are some of the best ways to encourage expressive art therapy from the comfort of home.

Keep in mind, though, that many of the other activities on this list can be adapted for online instruction. Simply ask your students to find the necessary supplies at home.

1. Host virtual art classes

It’s easier than ever to teach in a virtual classroom. As long as you have access to a web camera, resources like Zoom and Google Hangouts enable you to share art therapy classes online.

Encourage your students to join into themed classes, like a Halloween or Hogwarts themed class. Or, use an online class to teach a larger group of students new skills. Kids and adults alike are clamoring for hands-on hobbies, like knitting or drawing.

2. Use art apps

As the saying goes: “there’s an app for that!” Art therapy is no exception.

For example, apps like Color Therapy Coloring Number are accessible on your iPad or iPhone, no matter where you are. This particular app features 5,000+ coloring pages in various themes, along with regularly updated color palettes. Happy Color is a simple color-by-number app that induces calm with its mesmerizing mandalas.

Assign a number of projects to your students and ask them to share in a quick virtual meeting.

3. Make a digital collage

You don’t need scissors and a glue stick to create a collage. In fact, any image is at your fingertips when you’re making a digital version. Web resources like Photo Collage make it easy to compile an assortment of photos.

Ask your students to create an online collage around a specific theme. The theme can be straightforward, like “things that make me happy,” or intangible ideas like “growth.”

4. Bring back chain mail

Start a chain activity, whether it’s a digital collage or a doodle created in an app. Give each student an hour to contribute to the activity before sending it along to the next person.

Your class will love seeing the final product!

5. Build upon a masterpiece

Tell your students to browse the web and find a masterpiece. Whether it’s the Mona Lisa or one of Vincent van Gogh’s classics, ask them to print it out and build upon the piece with their own creative touch.

After, share the images in an online album.

5 Art Therapy Activities for Kids

For children, limited language skills often make it difficult to communicate. Art therapy activities for kids allow for a natural and pressure-free way of expression.

These are some of the best ways to get kids involved in this form of therapy.

6. Transform the sidewalk with chalk

Chalk is an effective tool in expressive art therapy because it fades away over time. The symbolism of this is important when it comes to letting go of resentment or negative feelings.

Encourage your students to use words or pictures to communicate their feelings through chalk.

7. Use finger paint

Kids love to get dirty, which is why finger paint is a beautiful thing!

Take away the brushes and let them dig in. All you need is paint, paper, and a little imagination. Have a blank wall that needs some color? Let them go for it, adding full-body movement to the activity.

8. Build with clay

Children like to create and explore without permanence. Building a sculpture with clay, like Play-Doh, allows for constant re-structuring and an easy way to start over at any point.

Use multiple colors to boost creativity or share creative sculpting tools they can use.

9. Create a treasure box

Little ones hold on to special trinkets and memories. Gather a few plain white boxes (or cover shoeboxes with construction paper) and let your students create their own treasure boxes.

Set out pipe cleaners, beads, stickers, buttons, and any other unique decorative items for them to add.

10. Shape a candy sculpture

Candy is always a big hit with kids! Go beyond Christmas gingerbread houses with sweet treats to make edible sculptures any time of year.

Include skewers and toothpicks, as well as a variety of gummy candies and marshmallows. Then, sit back and watch their sculptures come to life.

5 Art Therapy Activities For Teens

Teenagers often struggle to open up emotionally, which makes art therapy activities particularly helpful for this age group.

These are some ways to get pre-teens and teens excited about channeling their creativity.

11. Create a piece of jewelry

Everything we wear is an expression of who we are. Stringing beads isn’t just a therapeutic activity, though, it also gives teenagers a chance to create something they can carry with them every day.

Encourage them to bring in their own beads or provide a variety of shapes and colors for them to choose from.

12. Draw to music

Teenagers are notoriously connected to their tastes in music. Inspire them to draw in response to a song.

Don’t forget to play a diverse selection in terms of genre and mood or ask them to bring in their own songs.

13. Bring an inspiring quote to life

Motivational quotes can make us feel inspired and recognized. Find as many as you can to print out, each on an individual piece of plain white paper.

Ask your teens to bring quotes to life with colored pencils, brush pens, or crayons.

14. Piece together a tissue paper collage

Gather an assortment of tissue paper in a variety of colors. Instruct your students to tear the tissue into pieces big and small before layering them on white card stock using diluted glue.

This abstract art activity can be incredibly peaceful and healing.

15. Mind and heart mapping

Visualization is key when it comes to processing self-worth and positivity.

Ask your teenagers to draw their heart or brain, mapping out the different elements that makeup who they are. This may include hobbies, interests, and character traits.

5 Art Therapy Activities For Adults

While adult coloring books are a newer trend, artists have always known about the benefit of mindfulness art therapy activities.

These are art therapy ideas for self-esteem, stress relief, and so much more.

16. Create with others in public

Art therapy group activities are a great way to boost a sense of community among adult students.

Find a way to create art together in front of a passing audience. Consider painting a mural or simply setting up easels in a park.

17. Draw in the dark

When it comes to drawing, it’s easy to become trapped by your own judgment and criticism, especially as an adult.

Drawing in total darkness will allow your students to relax and enjoy the process. They may be surprised by what they see when the lights come on.

18. Design a postcard

Ask your students to design a postcard they don’t intend to send.

Whether it strikes a negative or positive tone, this is a wonderful way to encourage expression using both pictures and words.

19. Draw with your non-dominant hand

Challenge your students to draw something with their non-dominant hand. Not only does it take tremendous patience and focus, but it will also teach them to persevere.

20. Help something grow

Gardening is a wonderful way to beat stress and anxiety. Gather some pots, soil, and a few succulents or seeds.

Let them carefully plant something to watch and take care of. This hands-on activity can bloom and grow for years in their own home.

Grow Your Art Studio

As an art teacher, your mission is to help students heal through expressive art therapy. That means your heart and mind should be clear during every class.

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