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MHS Teacher Shares Art Activities that Help Students Creatively Work Through Emotions

Featuring John Davis, MHS Art Educator and Gallery Coordinator

Did you know that coloring, sketching, and creating can help with navigating emotions?

As the pandemic continues to produce anxiety and frustration, the Virtual and Performing Arts (VPA) teachers at Milton Hershey School are using creative techniques to help students express their feelings. Whether children miss their friends and family or are just having a bad day, the root cause might not be easy to talk about. Being creative and turning negative feelings of doubt, fear, and anxiety into something beautiful can have an empowering effect for both children and adults alike.

“Everyone has creativity inside of them, it just has to be brought out,” said John Davis, MHS Art Educator and Gallery Coordinator. “Almost every project assigned in our art classes are tied to social and emotional learning. Students learn problem-solving and critical thinking, while also exploring a creative outlet through artistic expression.”

Here are some examples of projects that can harness artistic expression when dealing with real feelings and emotions:

  • Zentangle Drawing: This project takes doodling to a whole new level. All you need is a piece of paper and black marker. Draw a free-flowing, squiggly line in a square on a piece of paper. Fill all blank spaces with different designs and repetitive patterns. This is a quiet activity that helps the artist empty their mind and zone out into their creativity. After the Zentangle, you’ll have a refreshed perspective and ready to tackle the next task with a clear and open mind.

10th grade MHS student, Treasure.

  • Bring Emotions to Life: Have children picture the emotion they are feeling in their head and draw a character to embody it. For example, if a child is angry, encourage them to create an “anger monster.” Not only are they making that emotion a real thing, young artists can be introduced to warm and cool colors of the color wheel.
  • Create Vision Boards: Take old newspapers or magazines and build a collage with pictures or words to represent what you want to do in the future. Is there a vacation you want to take or an activity that you want to learn? Cut those pictures or phrases out and build your vision board. This will help the family focus on the future and the good times to come.

4th Grade Art Project

  • Draw Your Happy Place: Revisit a happy memory and create a “happy place” in your mind. Sketch and color that drawing and hang it proudly in a place you can go back to it when the negative feelings come back

As we enter the new year, MHS invites students, staff, and the MHS community to explore their inner artist and use this time to creatively work through emotional hardships.


Milton Hershey School is carefully following federal and state guidelines, CDC considerations, and MHS-established health and safety protocols to keep our campus a safe, nurturing, and healthy place. Any group photos of unmasked subjects were taken prior to the face coverings mandate.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.