Using Art to Brighten Someone’s Day

We are all about Work/Life Balance here at AOE, and I am sure some of you feel as though your co-workers are like an extended family.

Of course you have a lot in common with your colleagues professionally, but the most important thing that bonds us, is that we are human. There will be days when we show up to work and we really don’t want to be there. There will be days when your personal life take over and it can be hard to focus on teaching. Luckily, students keep us so busy, it’s hard to think about anything else once the bell rings each morning! I LOVE  the saying below. It’s so true!

One of my co-woerkers had a brother who passed away (too young) from cancer, and he was a professional potter. Naturally, as the art teacher, my head started spinning of what we could do for her when she returned. I got all the teachers in the school together to create a special piece of pottery for our colleague. First, I had them each roll a coil. We put the coils together to create a vase in remembrance of her brother. Everyone literally had a ‘hand” in the project.  The teachers loved coming down to the art room and getting their hands messy (you should have seen how nervous they were to touch the clay- Hilarious!) and it mean SO MUCH to my colleague to receive something so special from her co-workers. She kept it on her desk for years.


 Sometimes a simple act of giving and sharing artwork can help someone who needs a smile….

What are ways you or your students have used art to brighten someone’s day?

Any coping strategies for getting through the work day, even when it’s hard? 


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Dawn

    I was away from work with an illness for five months last year.  My Kindergarten class sent me a box of rocks.  Each had written their name on one side and a short message on the reverse, such as energy, family, love, strength, giggles, dream.  I’m generally not one for inspirational messages, but these have become very special to me.  I keep them in a bowl I made and set one or two out on my desk next to the bowl to think about each day. 

    • That is so amazing! I can just picture their little handwriting with those inspirational words.

  • Katie N Stewart00

    When I had worked as a maternity sub as an art teacher for 3 months, the kids gave me a paper chain at the end and on the inside were messages for me and it cheered me up so much.  

    Now when I teach, I listen carefully to every time when a student says “Thank you” and it’s an energy boost each time. Gratitude is so powerful and it makes me in the end more grateful for the work that I do.

  • Robin Henry

    We had a beloved educational assistant pass away suddenly last February. He was only in his 30s so everyone, adults and kids were shocked and so very sad. As a school, we traced our hand and glued a heart in the middle.
    Then we wrote things about him or a note to him or his family. We then had a chain of hands throughout the school…connecting us. It was vey therapeutic to read, reflect and follow the chain. His family came and spent time reading them. After a couple of months, the hands came down and we put them in a special box for the family to keep. It proved to be a great healing process for all.

    • Robin,
      What a great, subtle way to remember your colleague and friend. This also shows students how they can use art and visuals to remember someone and make an impact. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Taho

    My elementary After School Art Program (ASAP) painted ceiling tiles to place above the beds of bed-ridden residents in the local nursing homes. The children got to deliver the ceiling tile gifts, themselves, to the nursing home family. We did simple, colorful designs and some landscapes in painting and mixed media. Many people–students, residents, and community members–are excited to do it again.

    Another school-to-community project we did was take portrait photographs of the willing residents and post the pictues online for far away family members to have. We printed and framed some of the photos so the nursing home can hang pictures of the “Residents of the Week” pictures. The frames were inexpensive rummage sale finds.