“I really appreciate the art kit. I've never had one before. Thank you! I will draw with it every day.” Joseph, 5th Grade
The arts are getting cut from a lot of schools, but art is so important. Not just as a form of expression, but also because it can help kids access other skills. You should have seen their faces when we gave them their art kits, provided by the Dragon Kim Foundation. Color pencils, chalk pastels, oil pastels, water color—they couldn't believe it.
Rather than write a story first and then illustrate it, we reversed the process. We asked the kids to paint first, then write about what they painted. "Don't try to be realistic," we told them. "Be abstract. Be free. Relax. Follow the lines and colors. Follow your emotions. Paint what you feel."
It was amazing, watching how easily some of them let go. A few had a hard time because they had been trained to produce "good" work, to create something for a grade. So they were pretty hard on themselves. If it wasn't "good" they'd start over. But eventually, even the most careful kids began to relax. Soon they all felt free to create.
We then asked them to write about what they saw in their art. "Start by describing the colors and shapes and lines," we suggested. "Soon an idea or scene or emotion will emerge. Follow that. See where it goes. Don't worry if you don't know where it's going. Just follow it."
A SINGLE ACT OF KINDNESS
by Ava (4th Grade)
The gray is clouded like a storm.
It closes in on the bright circle of pink.
The pink pushes back and slowly
it starts to brighten up the dark
without losing any of its own positivity.
The bright ring is a single act of kindness.
It seems small and insignificant
but slowly and steadily it changes
the world around it for the better.
Seemingly small things can change the world
no matter how harsh the circumstances.ry.
Each student was given an opportunity to practice reading their poems aloud, with their artwork projected on a screen behind them. Even the most shy kids gained a lot of confidence.
At the end of camp, we had a big celebration. Friends and family were invited. We had over 70 people in attendance! Each student stood up and read their poem aloud. It was an amazing experience. In fact, writing with art turned out to be everyone's favorite activity.
by Andrew (5th Grade)
I feel like I am on the beach.
I see the sunset going down like a feather.
The waves crashing, crazy, relaxing.
The waves are my feelings coming alive.
The sky, violet red mixed with yellow and blue.
Making sand castles with crabs living inside.
I see a galaxy.
I taste salt from the ocean.
The sky tastes like candy canes.
People ride surfboards that look like candy canes.
The surfboard’s shape is like a flattened tire.
The stones have spikes like porcupines.
The tree feels like a thousand icy shards.
After you swim on that beach
you can’t move a bone.
At the end of camp, we had a big performance party. In addition to food and fun, every writer received signed copies of Nara's novels and a beautiful certificate to celebrate their hard work.