Social Emotional Learning Aligned With Art Curriculum

Social Emotional Learning Aligned With Art Curriculum

social emotional learning and art

Common Core Standards in reading, math, and science require a deeper understanding of core SEL skills and the ability for students to apply them.  Aligning arts instruction with social emotional learning (SEL) education is a natural alignment for teaching these skills to children. In today’s blog, guest author Sue Laue, an SEL expert trainer and coach, introduces us to an award-winning creative arts program, Open Studio Project.

Social Emotional Learning and Art

by Sue Laue, Open Studio Project, Inc.

Open Studio Project, Inc. in Evanston, IL, has developed a new, evidence-based SEL and Art/Art Therapy Curriculum, PreK-8, being taught in Chicago and Evanston elementary schools for both general and diverse learners. Lessons reflect OSP’s mission: “To serve the community by teaching and disseminating an evidence-based, creative process allowing youth of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to experience art, SEL and equity as avenues for growth.” 

Sarah Laing, OSP Executive Director, believes that

“developmental relationships, self-reflection on learning, and SEL skills built through art/art therapy are foundational in understanding how social and emotional learning happens and in building a joyful, inclusive, successful community.”

With OSP’s Curriculum, based on its unique creative process, children learn through fun, imaginative SEL instruction aligned with 12 creative visual arts/art therapy lessons or projects to express their own voice and experience equity. In a hands-on maker-space, students are empowered to imagine art, interact productively, express a healthy sense of self and community, and work effectively toward goals. 

OSP’s Personalized Learning Philosophy

Students learn through art lessons incorporating emotion management, attention/focus, listening, communication, relationship-building, sharing, goal-setting, and decision-making through free-choice, personalized creation, inquiry, shared planning, reflection, and witnessing their work individually or for the group. 

OSP guidelines and philosophy for all its projects and lessons are well suited for SEL skills instruction in a personalized learning setting. Guidelines include:

  1. The “no comment” rule – students create without critique
  2. The use of referencing – students may use other ideas/art to create
  3. Independent art-making – following what feels pleasurable, one’s curiosity
  4. Taking artistic risks – turning mistakes into unexpected avenues for exploration
  5.  Setting an “intention” for creation and “witnessing” their art for others with one or two words or by participating in a group conversation (older students)
  6. Reflection on one’s artistic creation, social and emotional learning skills
  7. Use of artistic and social and emotional vocabulary words to enhance learning
  8. Community building within and beyond the classroom with group projects or displays.

SEL & Art/Art Therapy Curriculum Outcomes

Research by Lenka Mynaříková, Prague, 2012, Art-Based Program for Social and Emotional Development of Children, showed that SEL instruction and art therapy for diverse learners, Grade 5, ages 11-12, some with autism, ADHD, and dyslexia and/or dysorthographia (issues with spelling and/or writing), “helped them to express themselves and communicate with others by using drawings, music, or movement.”  

Assessment also showed that children were more confident in expressing their identity, more content with the class climate, and they thought of their class as a more safe, intimate, and cooperative environment.

OSP’s SEL & Art/Art Therapy Curriculum pilot program with students displaying communication disorders and autism showed that they improved their use of social and emotional skills by 17-25 percent after the 12 to 16-week program. The OSP SEL Assessment Survey Tool is included with the Curriculum.

OSP’s Robust Art/Art Therapy Projects

OSP K-8 SEL & Art Curriculum lessons were sequenced by OSP art instructors and SEL consultant to reflect the OSP creative learning process and the social and emotional skills instructional sequence below.  A similar Curriculum outline is available for PreK students. Learning sessions are about 45-50 minutes. Emotion faces handouts, a student emotions rating chart for teachers and a student cool-down tool are included.

Lesson #1    Art Animals – 2 sessions
SEL Skill: Self-Awareness   

Lesson #2    The Shape of Me
SEL Skill: Self-Awareness   

Lesson #3    Food Feast
SEL Skill: Self-Awareness & Self-Management

Lesson #4    Under the Ocean – 2 sessions
SEL Skill: Self-Management & Social Awareness

Lesson #5    Into the Woods        
SEL Skill: Self-Awareness, Self-Management & Social-Awareness

Lesson #6    Outer Space – 2 sessions
SEL Skill: Self-Management, Social Awareness & Responsible Decision-Making

Lesson #7    Metamorphosis        
SEL Skill: Self-Management & Responsible Decision-Making

Lesson #8    Treasure Box
SEL Skill: Social Awareness & Relationship Skills

Lesson #9    Thank You Banners
SEL Skill: Social Awareness & Relationship Skills

Lesson #10   Marvelous Machines
SEL Skill: Social Awareness & Relationship Skills

Lesson #11   Art Garden
SEL Skill: Self-Awareness & Responsible Decision-Making

Lesson #12   My Town – 2 sessions
SEL Skill: Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills & Responsible Decision-Making

social emotional learning and artSue Laue, a social-emotional learning trainer and coach is CEO of Behavioral Solutions K-12 & Media Masters, Inc.




Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. As a middle school art teacher, I am quite interested in the Learning sessions you listed as a sequential way to build SEL learning in my remote classroom. Will you share these lessons?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.