Virtual art activities are from Meri Steinmetz, MA, registered Clinical Mental Health Counselor (child/adolescent), art therapist
SALT DOUGH PLAY!
For Emotional Processing with Kids or Adults
Clay, Play-dough, and Model Magic are magnificent creations. I use them often in my practice with emotional processing with kids because they are an amazing, unconscious way to access what’s “really going on” and process it. Clay-like materials are regressive, they bring our guard down a little, bring us into a more exposed, playful state to work through the deep feelings we might be unaware of. You can use any type of clay like material for this exercise, but I have included a recipe for salt dough. It’s easy to make, doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, and is safe to consume (though you really don’t want to, it tastes gross!) In this exercise, I encourage you to create a story, without any judgement of what that story becomes, just work with whatever speaks to you!
- 2 cups flour (any works, white flour or almond is what I use)
- 1 cup Salt (regular, fine, white salt works best)
- 1 cup warm water
- A placemat (the dough can leave a residue, it’s easily cleaned as it is just salt and flour)
After mixing all you ingredients together (I usually mix the dry then add the water, but it doesn’t matter. You can add a touch of vanilla extract to make it smell better!) divide the dough evenly between the people participating.
We are going to create a story! Create at least 2 characters for this story. If you have a lot of dough you can create props and scenery too, or use small toys you have at home.
Be as creative as you like. If you have multiple people creating, first ask them to create their own characters and story.
Each person gets the opportunity to share their story from beginning to end without interruption, like a play. After all members have shared, see if you can create a story together, using old or new characters.
Perform the story for a real or imaginary audience. All stories are okay! If a challenging topic comes up, invite the storyteller to investigate where the challenging topic came from, be curious!
You may be impressed by what you figure out together. Feel free to write down your stories and save your characters. If you wish, salt dough can be baked on a low heat in the oven for a couple hours until the dough is completely dried out. Once dried, they can also be painted! 2 art activities in one!
Questions for Thought:
(This is an awesome way to have your child reflect on their art and hear some of their experience!)
- What did you think of your characters? Are they based off of anyone you know?
- What were some of the characters’ feelings through the story, did they change? Why?
- Which story did you enjoy the most?
- How was the collaborative story different from your individual one?
- Was it easier or harder to work in a group? Why?
RIPPED PAPER COLLAGE!
Expression of Feelings For Kids and Adults
When we have big feelings that seem to keep coming up, we can get frustrated. Some big feelings don’t feel very good and can make us pretty uncomfortable. Some of these feelings might be anger, sadness, irritability, frustration, etc. This activity is designed to quickly express those feelings and DO something with them. Specifically, something that makes us feel a better emotion, like happiness, joy, love, or calm.
- Writing paper
- Colored paper
Find a comfortable spot to sit or lay. First, for a warm up, take a piece of paper and scribble all over it quickly with your dominant hand. Once fully completed, flip the paper over. Do the exact same thing, but this time use your non-dominant hand. Notice the differences.
On a new sheet of paper, draw, create, write about something that makes you feel angry (Not getting tablet time, not getting to do what someone else is doing, staying inside, lack of ice cream options at lunchtime, it can be anything that makes you feel upset.) Draw it as quickly as possible.
Once completed, rip up the paper.
With the shreds, glue together the pieces to create something new, on a new piece of construction paper. The thing you create should be something you enjoy! Maybe you create a collage portrait of a pet, or of you and a friend you love very much. Use the torn up piece of the bad feeling to create a good feeling!
Questions for Thought:
- How did it feel to rip up the thing you were angry about?
- What were you able to make that you like/love out of that first paper?
- What’s your favorite thing about what you created?
- Imagine what it would be like if we could make all of our angry feelings into something that felt better!