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It can be a great joy to surprise others. Think about the look of delight on someone’s face as they consider the thoughtfulness that went into the moment of surprise. This could be a party, an unexpected email, the moment a friend arrives on your front porch right when you need it most, and most certainly works of art.
Well-hidden works of art can be a delight to discover, as in tiny art shows or street art nestled into unexpected spaces. For a moment, we marvel at the placement, the thought that went into the creation, and how only the most aware may take notice. There are countless ways to engage students at all levels with artmaking that involves an element of surprise. So, why not consider visual notes of positive affirmation?
Start with a unifying line design. Add bright color, a positive, inspirational message, and voila! A hidden artistic surprise just awaiting discovery!
A few years ago, I spoke to future teachers who are still in high school. I prompted the students to consider how small actions can impact others in ways we can’t comprehend. Each student received a printout of a panther, the university’s mascot, where the talk was being held. I prompted students to turn this simple line drawing into a positive affirmation to be hidden throughout the campus and discovered by college students upon their return from the break.
Armed with markers, students created bright and bold panthers with short inspiring quotes. They cut out their colorful forms and laughed as they ran around campus, placing the panthers on bulletin boards, in potted plants, or behind giant pull-down maps. They were joyful as they considered how and when returning college students would find these panthers. And that’s it. Students walked away with the knowledge that their work may be the surprise someone else needed.
Since that day, I have done the same activity with elementary students, college students, families, and adults. With each group, there is a different unifying line design for individuals to bring to life with color and quotes and then hide for others to find.
It is truly that simple, but some considerations can lead to a meaningful experience for all.
Regardless of how involved this project becomes, at its core, the element of surprise is a bright moment in a cloudy day or an unexpected reminder that small actions can make a significant impact on someone else. Gather a group of students or colleagues to create a hidden surprise that brings a little more joy into the world!
When were you last delighted by a thoughtful surprise?
What symbol or mascot could be easily transformed into a reproducible image for decorating?
Who would benefit most from creating surprising notes of affirmation?
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.