Visual storytelling with kids – the pandemic edition

No one’s had it easy these past few months, and those of us with children know they’re not immune to the tensions that have come part and parcel with the coronavirus lockdown.

And while we adults have the vocabulary and (hopefully) the emotional literacy to understand what we’re feeling — that’s not always the case for the younger people in our homes, who may struggle to tell their own stories of their experience of the pandemic.

That’s where Common Sense Media’s recent Parent Trapped podcast episode, featuring Christian Robinson, had some great ideas.

Christian is an artist with a YouTube series helping youngsters with their creative projects, and he had some great advice on how to encourage them to help process their understanding of the world around them. He also has a dulcet tone reminiscent of Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross which can calm anyone having a bad day. 🙂

Child writing in a notebook
screenshot from Christian Robinson’s ‘Making space video’

If you want to help a child build their emotional intelligence, there are a host of ways to encourage them – but when it comes to creativity, Christian says, let them have fun, step back and let them do their thing without pressure.

You may be asking yourself:

how can I visually represent the anger or frustration that I’m feeling?

If you’re interested in your own project check out my blog post on creating a visual diary, but your kids may just want to paint dinosaurs and mermaids, and that’s ok. They may well want to trace pictures they like or copy the same cartoon over and over again.

If you do want to veer towards art&feelings try these tips:

  • Ask them to draw a self-portrait, perhaps holding their favorite things.
  • Ask if they’re going to be smiling or frowning in the picture, and why?
  • Who else do they want to put in their picture?
  • Where are they?
  • What are all the people doing, and why?
  • Who would you like to see this picture?
  • Shall we send it to them?

For older children or early teenagers, try helping them create a collage of words and pictures cut from magazines that reflect how they’re feeling. You could start with a minute or two of reflection, or dive straight in and see what comes out of it!

There are hundreds of ideas online for art therapy activities – here’s a list of 100 that I just found in a minute’s googling!

But whatever activity you choose, keep the encouragement flowing, and you might be surprised at the ways in which you’ll find your youngsters telling their own stories about the pandemic, and about anything and everything else happening to them right now!

Good luck, and please tweet me @taratw to show what wonderful creative things you’ve been up to!


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