Welcome back to our September Blog Series-Integrating Bullying Prevention Throughout the Classroom! We started the series off with a doozy—math! Through activities such as “Counting on Kindness” and mathematical mystery messages of kindness, we learned that neither math nor bullying prevention needs to be intimidating.
This week we’ll be focusing on the more popular subject of art. Art is a beautiful tool of self-expression and exploration. Through art we are able to say and understand things that words alone simply could not convey, making it an excellent subject for learning about kindness and bullying prevention.
Here are some easy ways that you can integrate these topics into the art education you are already doing:
Compliments for Complements
In art, we have complementary colors. Complementary colors are colors opposite one another on the color wheel. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those colors. It is this intense contrast which makes these colors pair so beautifully.
The object lesson here is clear: just because two people are different from one another, does not mean they must necessarily clash. Sometimes we can find our greatest friends in those that are most unlike us; they can teach us new skills and ways of thinking and vice versa. If we take the time to learn about the differences of others, we can enrich our lives and see things we could never have seen on our own.
To practice this lesson in art as well as kindness, gather construction paper of complementary colors. Pass the papers out to your students. Next, they must find other students holding their complementary colors. The students then exchange papers and write compliments on them.
For older students, pair partners who don’t typically work together. Instruct your students to interview one another to discover what they have in common and what is different. What is one thing they can learn from their partner? After the interviews, have students create a piece utilizing two complimentary colors to reflect what they have learned. The project can be a painting, drawing, collage, or any other medium with which you are currently working.
Creating For Kindness
Choose a few projects out of the year to create with a specific audience in mind, such as hospital patients, the elderly, or even another teacher in the building. As students work on their art, they are building the skill of empathy so vital to bullying prevention.
Art has a powerful ability to speak where words fall short. Demonstrate this by having students draw or paint various bullying situations. The situations can be real or imagined. Encourage the use of colors to represent feelings and tone. Later, discuss what is happening in each picture, why it might be happening, and what can be done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
To make students more aware of the emotional impact of bullying, have them draw or paint how bullying makes them feel. Again, encourage the use of colors to help represent those feelings. If the students are too shy or frightened to present their work in front of the class, simply display the projects where everyone can see them. Sometimes those who bully are not fully aware of the deep impact they are having on others. The artwork of their peers may speak to them in a way that words alone never could.
Another option would be to create visual representations of the words spoken in bullying situations and words that can combat bullying. Help students see that words can be just as powerful as physical actions.
Art has a long history of acting as a catalyst for change. As a class, create bullying awareness posters. The posters can have statistics, words of encouragement, drawings, etc. Have students discuss what they want their posters to accomplish and how they think the words and pictures in the posters will help them to accomplish this goal.
And don’t forget that art isn’t limited to paper. Make a video to educate others on bullying and bullying prevention or make a video celebrating the differences of individuals in the class.
Going Classic- Art History
History is filled with examples of artists using their gift to make a difference in the world. Discuss famous examples and then recreate famous works of art that have helped people be more understanding and tolerant or made a difference. For an additional twist, alter the famous pieces to educate about bullying, or simply mimic the artist’s style.
We often think of art as an individual discipline, but some of the most influential art pieces have been created by groups. Here are a few teachers and counselors who have embraced the power of many to teach their students powerful lessons about differences and unity:
Administrators at Allenstown State School wanted to encourage and celebrate kindness, so they created a school wide ongoing art project. The school’s main hallway features a tree. Students are encouraged to write down random acts of kindness they do or witness throughout the year on paper leaves and pin them on the tree. Teachers hope to show students that kindness breeds kindness and helping others is worthy of celebration.
Months later, students continued to fill the cubbies and take a message when needed, their faces beaming as they read the note of encouragement. It became so popular, Jones said it now has to be refilled daily!
With art, the possibilities are nearly endless. Art has the ability to reach across languages, cultures, and ages to connect people and ideas. I hope these ideas have inspired you! If you try any of these projects, please feel free to share them on our Facebook or Twitter pages so they can inspire others!
Check back here next week for a new installment in the September series-Integrating Bullying Prevention Throughout the Classroom!
At Laughing Leopard Press, books are one of our favorite forms of artistic expression. Our newest book, This is A. Blob, by L.A. Kefalos combines powerful text with vibrant illustrations to help children learn that bullies come in all shapes and sizes-- and there is usually more to people than meets the eye. The first in a series of picture books, This is A. Blob introduces young children to vital topics such as empathy, kindness, and differences. Find it on Amazon.com or right here on LaughingLeopardPress.com!
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.