Art With Jenny K.


Calming Activities For Your Classroom Using Art

calming activities


I’d like to share with you several calming activities you can use in your classroom to help foster a calm class. You can add these to your teacher toolkits and have them when you need them. Some of these activities are great to help calm the entire class, some are great for calming small groups and some are ideal to help calm an individual child.

Today, let’s talk about how to use art projects for calming activities in your classroom. We live in polarizing times. But no matter what our differences might be, we have a lot in common. Mainly it seems we have one very specific thing in common: We. Are. Stressed.

We are stressed Calming activities

We worry on a global scale about a virus that won’t go away and about world events over which we have little control. Other things hit closer to home—and to our hearts. We worry about how to teach on multiple platforms, how to make up for lost time and skills, and how to make sure our students feel safe and comfortable with so much uncertainty swirling. Also, we worry about our children at home, about our families far away, and everything in between. We worry.

While I can’t provide a solution for our worries, I’m right there with you, worrying away. However, there is one thing I propose to help us through these times—make art to keep calm. Or, to put it more accurately: Make art to GET calm.

calming activities

Art is therapeutic. That’s no secret: Peruse any bookstore, with its stacks of adult coloring books, and you’ll see what I mean. Now more than ever, though, we also need to consider the therapeutic value of art in our classrooms.

Helping students catch up in reading, writing, and math is so important. Paying attention to students’ mental and emotional well-being is more important than ever, and we all know that children learn best with a full stomach and a clear mind.

calming activities

…and so can I. Keep reading 😉

Studies show that creating art stimulates the release of dopamine, the chemical that’s responsible for making us feel happy. Artistic activities such as sculpting, painting, or drawing lower stress levels and promote calmness. It’s been shown to help people, kids especially, deal with challenging emotions like anxiety. Art can also help young people grow in confidence and develop social skills.

Simply put, art heals, art helps, and art calms.

calming activities

Calming Activities for Your Classroom

Teachers always know what children need and are quick to respond. With growing mental health concerns, teachers have already responded by creating things like “calming corners,” for example. While the term might not last, the need sure will. One thing is for sure—calming activities and activities centered around mental health are showing up more and more as teachers take on yet another monster task to help children.

calming activities

Great Calming Corner Ideas! Teachers are using things like “Calming Corners” to provide a peaceful, quiet place for children to recenter and calm themselves in their classroom. This is a dedicated space specifically to help address mental health stress, anxiety, etc. If you are creating an area in your classroom like this (it doesn’t have to actually be a corner ;)). Here are a few things I suggest you consider.

Design & Atmosphere

Consider designing this space with cool colors like blues and greens to help with the calming effects. I recommend that you add some real plants to this area. Mother nature is one of the best teachers of how to be calm. Plants can help make a space feel comfortable and peaceful. Even the simple act of watering a plan has a calming effect. This would be a great task for a student in the class. If resources are available, provide students with calm music. Perhaps using headphones they can listen to Yo-Yo Ma or other classical music that will help to calm them.

Provide calming activities that children can work on independently. You will, no doubt, be needed with a lot of children in your classroom. Teach children ahead of time that the area in their classroom set aside for recentering and calming has activities they can do on their own. You might have instructions printed out, laminated, or written on trifold cardboard (think science fair 🙂 ).

Here are a few calming activities your students could work on independently…

calming activities

Read to Calm

Have a variety of books and flexible seating where students can grab a book or bring one with them from their desks to read. Getting lost in a story is certain to calm them. Make sure there isn’t added stress by providing reading levels that are too challenging (that’s for another time). You might even provide educational magazines that children can flip through.

calming activities

Write to Calm

 Have students write a thank-you note. Showing gratitude reminds us of all the good things we have in our lives. Students can also write short stories, poems, and journal entries to help calm them.

Combine writing and coloring to help express their feelings. Teachers love to use my emoji coloring pages with their students to talk about mental health in a kid-friendly way. You can find them HERE.

calming activities

Color to Calm

We all know that coloring calms. There are coloring pages available absolutely everywhere. My coloring pages are unique because no two will ever be the same. Children get to be the artist of their pages. I have pages specific to calming activities, and they include images of stacked rocks, koi fish, and more. You can see my calming coloring pages HERE.

calming activities

Draw to Calm

Draw a picture. Now, a caveat here —sometimes drawing can actually stress children out. That is because they love to get it “right,” and they want their final picture to look like the image they set out to draw. This is why it’s great to support children with directed (step-by-step) drawing pages to help them be successful. I have many drawing activities. A few free ones are dolphins, Pop Art pumpkin pie, owls, and more!

Small-Group Calming Activities

Sometimes, it’s not just one student that needs help calming down, sometimes it’s a group of children that could benefit from calming activities. Here are a few suggestions for you from some things I have available.

calming activities

Kindness Infinity Coloring Pages

The neat thing about these pages is that children can color them individually and then they can be connected to one another —in so many different ways. You can read more about this project on my blog HERE.

Try my FREE infinity kindness coloring page HERE.

Table Posters

Think of my “Table Posters” as extra-large coloring pages for your students! XL coloring pages mean XL fun! My table posters are small posters (or big coloring pages) that you spread out on a table and have small groups of kids work on together—or apart! They are immediately engaging, lead to great discussion and cooperation, and, most of all, they are fun!

calming activities

Don’t forget about adults. They need to have time to help calm down as well. I have a set of FREE adult coloring pages designed specifically for teachers. You can get a copy of these pages HERE.

Entire Class Calming Activities

When we collaborate with others we feel more connected. We can then see that our worries are not our own, and we are not alone. We worry together. Children love to work on my collaborative art projects because it helps them feel connected to their classmates and to their community at large. Often times teachers tell me they have displayed a final poster in the hallway and everyone comes and tells the kids how much they like it. When a child is part of a collaborative project they get that sense of pride that they contributed to something larger than themselves.

calming activities

Oftentimes, doing for others can help us solve some of our own problems and feel more calm and connected. I have an endless amount of collaborative portraits, posters, and projects you could do with your students. However, I created a few specific ones especially to help inspire, motivate and calm children.

Stacked Rocks Collaborative Poster

Inspirational Quote Stacked Rocks poster—Pop Art Style! This poster would be great for a classroom calming corner or group activity. The final poster says, “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe that it is possible.”

Not only will the act of making the poster calm your students, but the final poster then makes an inspirational poster that you could display in your classroom. Inspirational Quote Stacked Rocks Collaboration Poster HERE.

Stacked Rocks Collaboration Poster from Art with Jenny K.

Yo-Yo Ma Collaboration Poster

As an ambassador for peace and an accomplished musician, Yo-Yo Ma is someone that can help calm children. I highly recommend also playing his music when the children are coloring.

This poster also features a quote. This quote from Yo-Yo Ma, “Nobody else can make the sound you make.” Use this quote to inspire your students to celebrate their individuality. Yo-Yo Ma Collaboration Poster HERE.

Yo-Yo Ma Collaboration Poster from Art with Jenny K.

Koi Fish Collaboration Poster

My Koi fish collaboration poster is one of many calming activities I have created to help you support your students and their mental health. Creating a calming classroom is top on the list this year for many educators, and I hope this poster can help your efforts. Koi fish have often been associated with symbols of calm and stillness. I hope this poster will create the same feeling as your students color the pages, assemble the poster, and proudly display the final poster.

You can find this poster in my TPT store HERE.

calming activities

There are so many other things that can help calm children. Things like physical activity, yoga, dancing, and theater can all help as well. However, my expertise is in art integration and helping classroom teachers infuse art into their classrooms. Since that’s what I’m good at, I’ll leave you with the ideas I’ve mentioned in this post. I hope these calming activities will be helpful to you and calming to your students!

Thanks for reading! 

Jenny K.

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