In a typical Art Feeds lesson, children might engage in a variety of activities from mural-making to projects employing unconventional art materials, which will challenge them to engage in creative problem-solving, self-reflection, or storytelling. They’re encouraged to never say “I can’t,” and empowered to embrace the mantra “we can do hard things.”
Bourne describes one of her favorite lessons, a two-part experience. On the first day, children are taught the difficult task of finger-crocheting or finger-weaving. “At first, the kids are so mad at us, they say ‘this is too hard,’” she explains. “But then every time, without fail, about 10 minutes into the lesson, the light will turn on for four or five students.” Those students excitedly announce their progress to the teachers, who in turn ask them to show their peers. “Then there’s this really awesome collaboration between the kids who have figured it out and feel like they have this knowledge, and then can help the other students.”
Once the students get the hang of it, they crochet long strands of yarn, which teachers gather together to create a “storytelling web.” In this second part of the lesson, students are empowered to come up with their own stories and share them with the class, while standing in the safe space of the web. Some tell clever, imaginative tales, while others use it as a platform to get real personal woes off their chest.
“We encourage the students to take a risk, tell them there are no wrong answers, it’s really about the kids’ ideas,” Bourne offers. “A lot of people think of Art Feeds as an art instruction organization and I’ve always said I beg to differ about that. We don’t teach line and color and drawing and art history—all things that are very important—but rather we really believe that children are wildly creative, curious, imaginative, and we want to create a space where those things can thrive.”