Get Artsy This Holiday Season!

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With the days becoming increasingly shorter and temperatures quickly dropping, it’s becoming ever so clear that the holiday season is almost here. With time off (and often away), we frequently enter the holidays with the best of intentions, planning to slow down and enjoy our family and friends, count our blessings and focus on what really matters. Unfortunately, holiday expectations can often get in the way. It’s all too easy to get swept up by the hustle and bustle, stressed by finding gifts, to-do lists, endless lines and expenses, holiday traffic, demanding in-laws…you get the idea!

Channeling some of this energy into the creative process can be a great way to release stress and anxiety and remember what really counts. Try some of these holiday-themed art activities to bring about family togetherness, kick off your holiday celebrations, and help everyone get grounded.

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1. Make a batch of Christmas scented cloud-dough for an afternoon of holiday inspired sensory play

  • Ingredients:
    • 7 cups of flour
    • 1/2 cup of green or red sidewalk chalk (crushed up)
    • 1 cup of vegetable oil
    • Peppermint extract
  • Instructions:
    • Combine the sidewalk chalk and flour.
    • Add a few drops of peppermint extract.
    • Pour in the oil and mix well.  Mixing will take a few minutes.  When done you will have an amazing substance known as cloud dough.


2. Make your own wrapping paper to really get in the spirit of giving

  • Materials:
    • Roll of white drawing paper or brown craft paper
    • Various paint colors
    • Variety of brushes
    • Tape
    • Newspaper
  • Instructions:
    • Lay out newspaper on the floor to protect your space.
    • Unroll the paper and secure down with tape
    • Experiment with different techniques to create your own DIY wrapping paper. So many options to try! Try splatter painting, polka-dots, handprints, etc.


3. Create a permanent imprint with salt-dough ornaments

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup of flour
    • 1/2 cup of table salt
    • 1/2 warm water
    • Rolling pin
    • Cookie cutters
    • Straw
    • Stamps, leaves, flowers, or any other objects to make imprints
    • String
  • Instructions:
    • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing until you have a nice, smooth, and even consistency
    • Roll out onto a cookie sheet
    • Take your stamps and other objects and make your marks into the dough (can use ink with stamps if you want)
    • Once your done, using cookie cutters, cut the dough into different shapes. At the top of each shape take the end of the straw to cut-out a hole. This will be for your string once baked.
    • Bake in oven at 200 degrees for 4 hours
    • Once out of the oven, feel free to add additional color. Add your string and viola!
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4. Create flower pots with your goals for the New Year

  • Materials:
    • Terra cotta clay pot(s)
    • White primer (any paint will do)
    • Selection of magazines/materials to cut our words and images
    • Mod Podge
    • Acrylic sealer
    • Whatever you need to plant- dirt, seeds/bulbs
  • Instructions:
    • Prime your clay pot(s) to keep the other materials from soaking through.
    • As a family, discuss your hopes for the upcoming year. What are your goals, resolutions, and inspirations? With those thoughts in mind, begin cutting out related words and pictures. These will be collaged on your clay pot.
    • Once you’ve finished selecting, use the mod podge to apply the words and images to the surface of the clay pot. You can use a paint brush, or even your fingers!
    • After the 1st coat dries, apply a 2nd coat.
    • Once completely dry, add a final coat of acrylic sealer to keep everything dry during watering.
    • Once everything’s dry, its time to get planting. Together, plant your seeds. As your hopes and dreams blossom in the upcoming year, so will a beautiful flower!


5. Make Gratitude Paper Chains

This is a great ongoing project. Leave the materials out in a corner and have each member of the family contribute one gratitude link a day. Decide as a family that you’ll hang the final chain up on Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, New Years, etc. It’s a lot of fun to watch it grow as everyone acknowledges all they have to be thankful for!

  • Materials:
    • Interesting types of paper (patterns, colors, etc.) cut into strips
    • Stapler
    • Thankful printables 
    • Glue stick or double sided tape
  • Instructions:
    • To get started….Print out attached thankful template and cut into strips (or make your own)
    • Complete the sentence. “I am thankful for______________________.” Then glue or tape the paper onto a colorful strip of your choice.
    • Staple into a circle, connecting around the prior link.


Happy Holidays!!

 Jennifer Kind-Rubin, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist; Psychotherapist
80 East 11th Street, NYC

Get Creative with Art Therapy!

With school back in session—well, almost—you may notice behavioral changes and sometimes even diet changes amongst your children. Sometimes our little loved ones have a hard time verbalizing their internal worries or struggles. Creative arts is a wonderful way for our children to express themselves. The creative process can be easily incorporated at home to help your child communicate their feelings or, when dealing with more challenging issues, integrated on a therapeutic level through working with a trained professional. This is known as art therapy. I have asked my colleague, Jen Kind-Rubin, to share with parents ways that we may do creative arts at home to help our kids and when we need to seek the assistance of a creative arts therapist.



Art Therapy with Children
By Jennifer Kind-Rubin, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist; Psychotherapist


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I think we can all agree that growing up isn’t easy! Children are just beginning to learn about themselves and the world and are still developing a language to communicate their unique feelings and experiences. Without sufficient words, kids often feel overwhelmed, and consequently may act out or withdraw in an attempt to feel understood. Many experts agree that engaging kids in creative activities, such as art, dance, music, and play can help with focus, coping skills, and behavioral issues. These types of activities can easily be incorporated into your home. Put together a portable art box, filled with crayons, paper, watercolors, markers, etc. Leave it out on the kitchen table after school, and encourage your kids to create an image of their day. Put on different types of music, and paint along to the beat. Get a stamp pad and have your child create images around his or her fingerprint, something unique only to him or her. Save your paper grocery bags to use for masks, cutting out the eyes and mouth, and transplant your child to a far-away land! Creativity accesses the part of the brain that controls our emotions, an area that children are still in the process of developing. When looking for more support for your child, try bringing them to a Creative Arts Therapist who is trained to facilitate this creative process. See below for some of the concerns that may lead you to pursue this outlet…

Research shows that art therapy has been used to successfully help children improve communication, increase self-awareness, decrease stress, develop closer relationships, improve mood, and decrease disruptive behaviors and attitudes. In addition to supporting children in dealing with everyday stressors, art therapy can be used as an intervention to support children in dealing with a number of other issues, including:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Grief/loss
  • Behavioral issues
  • Bullying
  • Childhood trauma
  • Fears or Phobias
  • Challenges of a physical illness or disability
  • Mental illness
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“Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages” (American Art Therapy Association, 2012). While talk therapy provides a setting for verbal communication, Art Therapy offers an opportunity to combine both verbal and non-verbal exploration. Children are intrinsically creative, so it is often easier for them to communicate through these means, versus struggling to meet an adult at their verbal level. This approach often feels less threatening, enabling the child to safely work through tough issues in a creative way. Makes sense, right?

So at this point you may be wondering what an art therapy session actually look like. Every Art Therapist is different, but often offices are stocked with a range of art materials, including paint, clay, crayons, pencils, etc. Typically the Art Therapist will provide the child with age-appropriate materials, setting up him or her to create. Often times the therapist will give a prompt to help begin this process. After the image is completed, the therapist and child will discuss the artwork, helping to provide insight and meaning. Through the use of symbolic language, underlying issues, patterns, and themes are often discovered and given the support they need. In giving the child’s creative imagery a voice, the therapist is also giving the child a voice, helping him or her to feel empowered and heard.

Jennifer Kind-Rubin, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist; Psychotherapist
80 East 11th Street, NYC