Relationship Building

A Powerful Way to Teach Kindness in the Art Room

student placing sticker

Every day in our schools we see unkind acts and hear hurtful words. Unfortunately, bullying and bullies will always exist. However, in the age of cyberbullying, it is even more essential for us to instill ideals of positivity and kindness in our students.

One way to do this is by talking openly about it. These conversations aren’t always easy, but they are necessary. One act of kindness can make a difference. If we can teach this idea in our art rooms, we’re moving in the right direction. I always tell my students no matter what they do; they will never regret being kind.

That’s why the “You Are Beautiful” project is perfect for the art room. Here’s how to get started.

1. Share the idea.

Over ten years ago, graphic artist Matthew Hoffman started a simple art project on a sticker. The sticker simply read, “You Are Beautiful.” It was an idea meant to brighten a friend or stranger’s day. The You Are Beautiful project has spread to every continent including Antarctica. This simple idea has served as a global movement that instills kindness and spreads positivity throughout the world.

2. Invite your students to participate.

Your students can participate in this project, too. You can receive stickers for free or purchase a larger number for a minimal fee. You’ll find that students take a great deal of pride in being part of this positive movement. You can even take this idea a step further to inspire your students to create stickers or magnets with their own positive messages.

When beginning a project that can strike many emotions, ask your students to think of a time they were hurt because of the words or actions of another. How did it make them feel? What could they have done to stop those words? What could they do if they see something similar happening to someone else?

Here are some videos you can share with your students to deepen their thinking on this topic:

3. Have students create small works of art.

student working

Give your students the opportunity to spread the message they want to tell. This project works as an excellent introduction to graphic design and topography. Challenge your students to create visually exciting designs. Ask your students this: what is going to make someone stop and look at their message? If you’re using a digital program like Photoshop, designs can simply be printed out on sticker or magnet paper. If you do not have access to digital devices or a printer, this project can also be done with any other traditional medium.

4. Spread the message!

student placing sticker

Once stickers and magnets are complete, let your students start to spread their messages of kindness throughout your school. If you are using stickers, make sure to have the conversation of appropriate places to put them, as you don’t want to ruin any surfaces. You’ll be impressed with how much pride your students will have in placing their designs to share with others in the hopes of brightening someone’s day.

Actions do speak louder than words, but finding ways to bring authentic, meaningful projects into the art room can be difficult. If your students have been struggling to remain kind to one another try this project to spark some positivity!

How do you teach kindness in the art room?

How do you talk about difficult issues like bullying with your students?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Abby Schukei

Abby Schukei, a middle school art educator and AOEU’s Social Media Manager, is a former AOEU Writer. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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