Resilience through Transition – An Art Activity for Classrooms or Families

Beverly Park Zoom

All of us have experienced loss and change. We are tempted not to talk about it, fearing that bringing it up will bring to the surface emotions that are difficult for our students to feel. But in reality, ignoring the grief connected with letting go and change creates a confusing disconnect for children. Being able to process the feelings allows them to understand that this part of change is normal and that talking through difficulty helps individuals and communities heal and move forward.

The activity below is designed to support students (and adults too!) with transition and change. Originally created for the transition from classroom learning to on-line learning during the pandemic, this activity has been found to be very helpful during any transition…from winter break back to school, from on-line learning back to the classroom, when schools must change into a new building, or when there has been a community challenge like wildfires or floods.

It offers an opportunity to slow down and emotionally process the changes internally. William Bridges (author of Managing Transitions) calls this internal process a “transition.” As we navigate the change, the first step is to connect with the feelings associated with losing something familiar, something we thought of as normal, or something we cared about. The activity can be adapted for your family or classroom. It is one way to build connection and community with your group, as you help young people to navigate newness.


Art Sample


  1. Get a piece of paper and some crayons, markers, or colored pencils.
  2. Fold the paper in half in both directions to make 4 quadrants.
  3. Take 15 minutes to draw an image in each quadrant using the prompts below. (Tip: Give one prompt at a time with a few minutes of drawing in between. Soft music playing in the background can help set the tone).
    1. You don’t have to consider yourself an artist. There is no wrong way—blobs of color and stick figures are fine!
    2. You may wind up drawing literal images or more abstract like colors and shapes.
  4. Invite each person in the family, group, or classroom to share something from their drawing—making sure this is optional (ok to pass). This can be done as a whole class or in small groups.
  5. Have each person share one appreciation for this time together.


What is something(s) you really miss about the way things used to be? (i.e. things about online school, being home, old school building, life “before now”, etc.) What is something or somethings you really appreciate about the way things are now? (back in the classroom, new friends to play with, new facilities, etc.)
What is a challenge you are facing right now?
What is a hope you have?
What is a strength you are seeing in yourself during this time? (For this last one, you can write a word in whatever language you choose. Then, color all around it.)