Art Journaling: Making a Difference in the Lives of Children


As one who has been helped in many ways by many wonderful people during my lifetime, I feel very strongly about helping others.  I try to donate to charity and/or give my time to multiple causes each year.  Whether it’s buying Secret Santa gifts for homeless children, or donating food to the local food bank, I regularly take action on charitably-based opportunities.

My Favorite Way to Give

One of my favorite ways to donate time and money is through my own little art journaling project – something I first did back in 2003, and have done during three different school years thus far.  My aunt, who is an amazing elementary school teacher, would tell me about her students and the challenges they faced: poverty, abuse, gangs, drugs, and incarcerated or otherwise absent parents.  Their stories broke my heart, and I knew I had to do what I could to help.

I decided I’d teach the kids visual journaling: the combination of writing/journaling, drawing, and collage.  In addition to nurturing their creativity and language skills, I teach these classes in the hopes that I’ll give them a positive, creative outlet to help them process the crazy world we live in.  Art and writing have been essential to me as I’ve traveled through life, and I am hoping to plant these seeds in children that are facing so many challenges.

How the Class Works

Each student receives a blank journal and a packet full of art supplies that they keep at school until the end of the school year.  I teach the class – an introduction to art journaling – and provide a handout with a how-to overview and journaling prompts for future use.  When I visit the class for the first time they complete two or three journal entries, which helps to reinforce the different ways they can use their journal for fun and as a tool.

As the school year progresses, the children do additional work in their art journals and we finish with an end-of-year art journal show that I attend.  The first three end-of-year shows we’ve held were a great success, and it always fills my heart with joy to see the excitement and pride of the children as they share what they’ve created.

Others Are Lending a Hand

I donate my time and some of the supplies for this endeavor, and usually solicit donations from friends and family to fill in the gaps.  However, this year donations are going to a whole new level.  Jenny Doh from has generously offered to provide supplies for the children’s art journal packets, and is also getting her readers involved.  She’s giving her readers an opportunity to get in on the giving, and has written a lovely blog post about my project here.  I’m so thankful for her shared enthusiasm about this project.  I know how big a difference it makes in the lives of these children, and I’m thrilled Jenny recognizes it too and is supporting the program.

How You Can Help

Because there is such great need, I hope you will consider making a donation too, dear readers.  Since is coordinating the bulk of the donations and materials could be duplicated between our gathering efforts, please consider sending me a gift card to Michael’s or Target.  (If you’d rather send tangible art supplies, please contact me.)  Whether you send a gift card worth $5 or $50, you’ll be helping these children in a potentially life-changing way!

If you’re interested in donating, please email me through this website’s CONTACT page so I can provide my mailing address and so I’ll know to keep an eye out for your envelope or package.  I hope to receive all donations by November 21, 2010.

Please note: The art journal pages in the photo above were created by a student who participated in the 2009-2010 art journaling class.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Warm regards,

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  1. Posted September 2, 2010 at 4:24 am by Becky Shander | Permalink

    I found you through Jenny’s blog. I LOVE what you’re doing…thank you for having such a kind heart.

  2. Posted September 2, 2010 at 7:24 am by Melody | Permalink

    Hi Becky,
    Thank you for stopping by, it’s great to have you here! Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to help! 😮

  3. Posted September 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm by Beth Nielsen | Permalink

    Truly, you are an Angel.

  4. Posted September 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for your comment, Beth. So kind of you! I’m glad to help…

  5. Posted September 3, 2010 at 5:41 am by carol | Permalink

    that is fantastic
    What I would like to know is how can I get involved physically. Where do I go and how do I start. Wouldn’t this be wonderful if we could do this across America. I live in LA

  6. Posted September 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Hi Carol – thank you for your positive feedback and enthusiasm regarding this project! It would be WONDERFUL if this could be done across the country. I’ll contact you by email soon – I’d be glad to share pointers on how to get a program up and running, or how you might get involved. 😮

  7. Posted September 6, 2010 at 11:16 am by Denise | Permalink

    I would love to do art journaling with kids. As a school counselor I am always looking for creative ways to help my students help themselves. Can you give me some tips-of-the-trade to get started with this aewsome project? Blessings, denise

  8. Posted September 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Hi Denise,

    Thank you for commenting and making contact. I’m certain art journaling would benefit your students – they’re lucky to have you looking out for them! Regarding tips, I guess my first question would be whether or not you’re familiar with art journaling practices and whether you’ve done art journaling yourself. If so, great! If not, you’ll probably want to read up on the subject so you’ll be informed as you relay the information to your students. If you don’t already have your own art journals to share as examples, you could purchase a book that illustrated how others do their art journaling and share that.

    You’ll need to write up a lesson plan and prepare handouts. The lesson plan should be tailored to the ages and challenges of your students, and the handouts should remind them of the basics of art journaling – something they can refer to when you’re not around. I give my students an art journaling basics handout, and a page of journal prompts for future use.

    The acquisition of materials will be your next step (for my first three classes I got donations from art friends and family), followed by actually teaching the class. I usually teach the intro class before handing out the goodies. Then, after briefly introducing the supplies in the supplies kit we go right into the creation of a few journal entries.

    I’d be happy to discuss this over the phone, if you’d like. There’s more to share than can be reasonably written down here. If you would like to discuss this, please email me your phone number via the form on the CONTACT page.

    By the way, I was thinking of putting together an online course or instructional DVD which would detail the how-to’s of getting a similar program up and running. A fee would be involved (amount to be determined), to cover production expenses and to put some money back into the art journaling class project. Would something like this appeal to you?


  9. Posted September 15, 2010 at 11:47 am by Debbie | Permalink

    I’m happy to see you’re doing your class again…I’ll spread the word on my blog.

  10. Posted September 15, 2010 at 7:58 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you, Debbie – I appreciate your support! You sharing my class information on your Yahoo! groups in past years brought in donations I wouldn’t have had otherwise, so please spread the word far and wide. :o)

  11. Posted November 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm by Janet | Permalink

    This sounds like a wonderful project! Best wishes for all the young participants!

  12. Posted November 23, 2010 at 11:24 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Hi Janet,
    Thank you! I’m looking forward to teaching next month…

2 Trackbacks

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