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House Creek students learn to express emotions through art


Special to the Leader-Press


Children experience complex feelings just like adults. They get frustrated, excited, nervous, sad, jealous, frightened, worried, angry, and embarrassed. However, young students usually don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. Instead, they communicate their feelings in other ways.

Children can express their feelings through facial expressions, through their body, their behavior, and play. Sometimes, students may act out their feelings in physical, inappropriate, or problematic ways.

House Creek Elementary School Counselor Amy Simpson taught students another way to identify and describe their feelings through color and drawings.

“Students sometimes have difficulty expressing their feelings because they don't know how,” Simpson said. “By giving students an opportunity to express them in a different way, it allows them the chance to have just one more way that will help them work through what they are feeling. When we can identify what we feel, we have a better chance of working through what we feel.”

With Simpson, students read the book, Niko Draws a Feeling by Robert Raczka. The story explores the creative process, abstract art, friendship, and the universal desire to feel understood.

“Students really had a chance to see their feelings differently. They responded well to the activity of drawing what they felt,” Simpson said. “The students were able to give wonderful examples of color choices for feelings during our discussions. It was interesting to see how each child had their own perspective as to why they chose that color and what it means to them.”

Second grader Mia Rodriguez was able to understand the lesson and apply it to real world experiences.

"When you feel a feeling, you need to be able to describe it to know how to work through it,” the 7-year-old said. “I chose yellow for happy because it is like the color when you're happy; it reminds me of happy times like Disney World. It feels like sunshine sprinkled on you and makes you happy."

Simpson said some students needed a little extra time to figure out which colors matched their different feelings.

“It surprised me how well students knew themselves,” Simpson said. “Sometimes they just need a different way to express themselves.”

Helping students develop their emotional skills is part of Simpson’s guidance lesson curriculum to teach first and second grade students to work on understanding their feelings better in order to express them appropriately. 

"You need to understand your feelings so you can show them,” second grader Jarrett Barnholdt said. “I chose black and purple for scared because it reminds me of dark and scary. The purple blends in well with the black."

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