My 2013 Art Journaling Classes for At-Risk Children

artists_at_work

Greetings!  Today I’m pleased to share photos from my recent visits to six different Southern California classrooms.  I provided art supplies (with help from many of you!), and taught an Introduction to Art Journaling to at-risk 4th graders.  My students are often facing a number of challenges, and I introduce them to Art Journaling in the hopes that it will help them cope, process their feelings, and express themselves in positive ways as they continue on in life.  I also know that art journaling helps their overall academic experience, and helps to develop their creativity.  Art journaling is a positive thing all the way around!

This year I taught in two classrooms in Ontario, and four classrooms in Santa Ana.  Through the generosity of dozens of kind and generous people, I was able to provide approximately 200 children with their own art supply kits, which will be used all school year and then taken home at the end of the year so the kids can keep creating.

kids_at_work

Preparing the Art Supply Kits
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The school in Santa Ana gathered parent volunteers to assemble the 125 kits we’d need in order to bring art journaling to their entire 4th grade.  The school purchased the journals, scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and plastic bags.  I (we) supplied the rest of the goodies, and the kits were ready to go when I arrived to teach.  Teamwork!  :]

kit_assembly

For the 80 Ontario class kits, I was lucky enough to have four friends come over and help assemble the kits.  Work that would’ve taken me an entire day working alone was completed in under two hours by the five of us – it was such a great help, and was fun to boot.  We got to visit, assemble, and eat some goodies.  I’m not above plying my team with things like homemade almond brittle to keep them happy.  :]  Big thanks to AC, LC, AT, and VT for your time and efforts!

What the Schools Received
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In addition to providing materials for the art journaling students, the schools received many other supplies and tools!

Ontario

2 carloads of assorted art/craft supplies, including several reams of paper
1 Big Shot die cutting & embossing machine (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)
A box of assorted dies (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)

Santa Ana

5 boxes of assorted art/craft supplies
1 box of Post-it notes
1 bag full of ball point pens
1 Big Shot die cutting & embossing machine (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)
A box of assorted dies (kindly donated by Ellison/Sizzix)

ontario

In the Classroom
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cutting

The children were so enthusiastic about their art supplies and the opportunity to create!  They dug right in, and had a wonderful time creating their first two art journal pages while I was there – a page about five of their favorite things, and a collage page.  As always, I was delighted by the things they created, and loved the inventive ways they used the materials.  One little boy used a paper doily and crayons to create a lion’s head!

doily_lion

journal_page4

journal_page1

artist_at_work

journal_pages6

journal_page3

journal_page2

journal_page5

figure_in_window

Letters from My Students
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I received thank you letters from one of my Ontario classes the other day – what a treat!  I love the letters and drawings I receive from my students each year.  They’re among my most treasured possessions!  Here are excerpts from a handful of letters I received on Tuesday – I’ve corrected some grammar and spelling in the interest of clarity:

“Thank you for all of the supplies and for teaching us another way to express our feelings.  Not to punch, not to slap, but to draw a picture to calm you down a little.  And also, thank you for spending your time with us and the other classes.”

“Thank you for showing your journaling to the class and now I like art way more than I liked it before.  Because now I know that you can do art with just a pen or pencil and art can be about anything you want it to be.”

“Thank you for teaching us art.  It was fun, exciting, and it was colorful.”

“I think it is very nice of you to come and teach us a new way to express our feelings and do new things.  Now I express my feelings in a different way because of you.”

“The best idea that I like is to recycle paper and wrappers, like the peanut and jelly sandwich wrappers.”

“I never knew I could get out my feelings by drawing a picture. Thank you for all you have taught us about art.”

I was so pleased to read these passages.  I make it a point to emphasize that journaling is a great way to express one’s feelings – both good and bad – in my introduction class, and these letters let me know that the message was received.  And because many of my students are from low-income families (as I was when I was a child) I’m sure to let them know that art can be made from the simplest of things – they don’t have to have expensive (and possibly out of reach) supplies to create.

The Schools Can Make Use of All Types of Supplies!
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I just have to share a few non-art journaling photos I took at the school in Ontario. They used of some of the assorted arts and craft supplies I’d passed along when it came time for the children to create dioramas. This is why I’m very happy to accept donations of “other” art/crafting supplies, even if it’s not a perfect fit for art journaling.

The first diorama include a tree made from fabric and yarn.  The second picture shows clouds made from packing foam, rocks made from egg crates, and ocean plants made from yarn.  I love these – they’re a perfect example of what children can do with opportunity and supplies. :]  The schools use these assorted art and craft supplies for all kinds of things – from handmade greeting cards to paper robots and science projects.

diorama1

diorama2

Thank You SO Much!
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I offer big thanks to everyone who donated supplies, gift cards, or funds to my students.  This program truly does make a difference, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to bring art instruction and supplies to these children.  I’ll be sure to post photos from the end-of-year art journal shows that will take place in May and June.

I accept donations year-round, so if you’re paring down your art/craft stash and would like to donate the items to my students – or if you’re inspired to provide new supplies for them via gift card or check – please contact me.  Everything gets put to great use, and is appreciated by the students, the teachers, and the school staff and administrators.  And me!

Warm regards,
Melody

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8 Comments

  1. Posted November 7, 2013 at 11:00 am by Jo Murray | Permalink

    Melody, it is such a wonderful thing that you are doing. It could be the turning point in a troubled young life. Well done.

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 11:31 am by Melody | Permalink

      Jo,
      Thank you for your kind words. :) It’s my pleasure to lend a hand…
      Melody

  2. Posted November 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm by Terry | Permalink

    I LOVE how this program is growing, and the letters from the students just make my heart swell! It is so great that you are giving them these gifts that may last them a lifetime — and who knows what will ripple out from this – how these kids will go on to influence others through their art! Kudos to you, Melody – such great work!! You are an inspiration! :)

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm by Melody | Permalink

      Terry,
      Thank you so much for your positive feedback. I really hope positivity will ripple out from this for years to come. :]
      Melody

  3. Posted November 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm by Pam | Permalink

    These students are so lucky to be able to participate in your wonderful program. It has to be rewarding to see the impact art can have on a young life. And what a generous employer you have.

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm by Melody | Permalink

      Pam,
      Thank you. :] I was thrilled that Ellison/Sizzix donated such wonderful and useful supplies to the teachers and schools. :)
      Melody

  4. Posted November 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm by Ellie | Permalink

    All of the journals and letters were inspiring!
    You are amazing for doing what you do and all the work that goes into it!

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