Art and Social Emotional Learning


How does art help social-emotional learning in K-6th Grades?


I learned a very long time ago that when I am anxious or stressed, picking up a pencil, pen, or marker and starting to draw, calms me down and helps me focus within a very short time. I don’t draw something specific rather just create lines and designs, I then choose colors that reflect my mood. When I’m done, not only do I feel better, but I usually find I have created something I’m proud of. In my many years of teaching art, I have taught my students how to use art to help them too.

Art is like that; it moves your hand and uses the right side of the brain to express emotion. It’s an absolutely perfect way to teach social and emotional lessons.

I have witnessed a positive change in students’ behavior when given art on multiple occasions. Art can be the key to reaching those who some may think are unreachable.

The easiest way to understand how art can support social-emotional learning is to understand Art IS Social-Emotional Learning.

School Counselor Savannah Maxwell and I have uniquely created a program to support social-emotional learning as SEL Standards are inherent to arts and the creative process. 

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is broadly understood as a process through which students build awareness and skills in managing emotions, setting goals, establishing relationships, and making responsible decisions that support success in school and in their everyday lives.

Savanna and I continue to hear Educators are struggling to find a way to bring SEL into their classrooms. No need to look any further, we have done it all for you. We have blended SEL learning and Art lessons into one package that will help your students express their emotions and work through their issues.

Art allows a student to express themselves and their emotions through images, rather than words. Most students struggle with putting a sentence together that truly expresses how they are feeling. Using art to express their feelings is a natural process for students. Students can draw feelings easier than searching for words to express their emotions.

Drawing also makes the words come more easily. As students draw, they are forming a story in their heads. When asked “Can you tell me about your art?” You are likely to get the whole story and so much more. The story they are telling can help you, help them.

At a click of a button, you can allow your students a 2-step interactive SEL lesson, paired with a follow-up art lesson. No art supplies or prep are required. Students benefit from both SEL and Art.


When a student creates art and is allowed their own creativity, the art naturally reflects their emotions. Drawing, coloring, and completing an art project with a theme in mind helps a student to use the right-side brain and their hands to work through the emotional process.

Students’ self-expression is vital to their development.

  1. Identifying our emotions and the emotions of others (how emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are connected)          Identifying emotions Doggys have emotions too 1dog art 1st grade rotated
  2. Stress, Anxiety, and the Brain

Stress Anxiety and the Brain



3.Acceptance and Diversity (Celebrating the differences we have and how we are each unique)

Diversity Acceptance and EmpathyWalk a mile in my shoes

4.Grief and Loss (Ambiguous loss: loss of learning, loss of social interaction, loss of experiences)

Grief and Loss


Self Care




Our program is designed to support the social-emotional learning and well-being of students through the integration of art and SEL.

  • Lessons are designed to be culturally inclusive, trauma invested and geared at meeting each child where they are at.
  • Social-emotional learning improves academic achievement, prosocial behaviors, and student attitudes toward school, and reduces depression and stress (Durlak et al., 2011).
  • Lessons incorporate the Washington SEL Standards, the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success, and the OSPI Art Standards.

In Addition, our online art lesson/SEL membership includes 5 emotional character drawing lessons,

Joyful Jane                    Joy rotated




Angry Andrew, Angry Andrew rotated




Disgust Daisy

Daisy Disgust




Sad Sally


Fearful Fred rotated


F-F-F-Fearful Fred.

My students love learning how to draw emotional characters and what a perfect opportunity to have a discussion about each emotion.

  • Consider displaying the art in what I call an “Art Walk”. It’s as easy as laying the art on the floor so students can walk by or hang on a wall. It’s a great way to talk about the art, take a minute to reflect on the lesson and allow your students some inspiration for their next art piece.
  • Regardless of the art project, it’s important to talk about trying something new, like learning how to draw, is all about taking risks and how learning new things grows their brains. Strong growing brains ROCK!
  • Art is therapy for so many students. Adding social-emotional themes to the art projects makes a bigger impact on your student’s ability to express themselves.
  • Educator and Counselors currently using our program have shared their positive experiences with Savanna and me. Our program is making a difference for students and educators.

Sign up for free lessons at and try before you buy.