Art (& Heart) Education: My 2010-2011 Art Journaling Class for At-Risk Children


As many of you know, one of my favorite ways to help others is by teaching art journaling to at-risk elementary school children. (Click here for a post about the project, and here to see a video of me talking about the project)

I taught my newest batch of students on December 17, 2010, and wanted to share how it went since many of my blog readers were kind enough to contribute to help provide the students with supplies.  In short, the class was an overwhelming success!  I arrived with a veritable heap of art supplies and goodies for the kids, and felt like Santa Claus!  It was a thrill to see the excitement and happiness on their faces.

What did the class receive?


Here’s what I took to the kids and their teacher, Mrs. Kelly:

8 boxes of art supplies:
45 art journaling kits
3 boxes of “mush pot” supplies – odds and ends that the teacher and students can use
2 boxes of binders – 35 total (not shown)


Each art journaling kit included the following (and more!):

A blank journal
Elmer’s glue stick
Mini inkpad
Paper punch
Patterned paper
Aluminum foil
Joss paper
Playing cards
Loteria cards (Mexican bingo)

Art Journaling 101

I began by teaching the basics of art journaling, and illustrated my lesson with examples from my own art journals.  After a break for lunch, we began the hands-on portion and the kids had a blast!  They loved exploring the supplies they’d been given, and eagerly got to work.  I gave them prompts for completing two different pages (a list of favorites page and a collage page or spread) – when the two assignments were completed the children were allowed to start embellishing the cover of their journals.


The classroom teacher, my aunt, was thrilled to see the kids so excited and engrossed.  One student, who is autistic, is often slow to start working on and to complete assignments, but he completed his first page in a flash and was on to the second page!  Another student, who has difficulty focusing on tasks for any length of time, was seen diligently decorating the cover of his journal – both intent and wholly engaged.

An appreciative teacher, and dozens of happy, thankful children…

All the students enjoyed themselves and were very appreciative.  I must’ve heard “Thank you, Mrs. Nuñez!” a few hundred times that day, and want to pass their thanks on to those of you who donated money, gift cards, or supplies.

Their teacher, Mrs. Kelly, was also incredibly appreciative – these are supplies they’d never have, if not for your help.  They didn’t even have scissors in the classroom!

I, too, thank you.  Together, we have made a difference in the lives of many!  I’d like to offer special thanks to Jenny Doh and those at  You went above and beyond, and I thank you!

What next?

Guided by their regular classroom teacher, the students will continue to work in their journals throughout the school year.  I’ll return to the class in May 2011 when we’ll have an art journal show.  Their parents will be invited, and other classes will view the work they’ve done this year as well.

I can’t shield these children from life’s challenges, but I am able to give them a positive learning experience and to give them a creative tool to help them cope with the ups and downs that will come their way.  Again, my sincere thanks to all those who helped make this class possible.

I’ll be sure to post any updates I receive mid-year, and will publish a post about the art journal show at the end of the school year.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in donating funds, gift cards, or supplies for the class I’ll be teaching in fall of 2011, please contact me.  Thank you for your consideration.

Warm regards,

Note: The artwork show above was created by my student, Savannah.

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  1. Posted December 30, 2010 at 11:03 am by Karan Simoni | Permalink

    What FUN Melody! Love the photos and your description. I know you can’t show their faces, but if you could, I bet we would see beaming smiles on all of them. Makes me miss my classes all the more, and reinforces my belief that art is so needed in these kids lives. Good work!

  2. Posted December 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you so much. Yes, you’re exactly right. I couldn’t take any pictures of their faces, but they were lit from within – so happy and excited. These classes are so important, and it’s my pleasure to be able to do something to help these little ones.
    Thank you for the positive feedback!

  3. Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm by Elizabeth Parsons | Permalink

    This is great- I remember when you started this a few years ago- so glad you are still doing this. I’ve been invited to do something similair for a needy school district in my area in the spring. The shool contaced me to come up and do a talk about altered paper dolls and teach the elementary kids how to do this. I may tap into some of your wisdom for this!

  4. Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Hi eBeth,
    It’s a pleasure for me to work on this project and teach – I feel so strongly about it. The kids need so much, and this is something that can help them on many different levels.
    The school district is smart to ask you in to teach. I hope your class goes well! Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have.