Family Art Making: Summertime Connection, Creativity and Fun

Published on in CHOP News

Within the Cancer Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), art therapy offers support to patients and families during hospitalization and treatment. This therapeutic service is facilitated by master’s-level clinicians and uses art materials, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to enhance patients’ emotional, mental and physical well-being. Art therapy at CHOP is available for individual, family and group sessions at our University City campus.

Mom making slime putty with daughter Art therapy is just one of the ways that we look to support patients and families with predictable group activities and services during admissions. When leaving the hospital, families may be eager to return to their established routines, with adjustments due to medical needs. This summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families are also experiencing changes to typical summer activities, camps and vacations. Highly anticipated events might move to a virtual platform or be cancelled entirely. Children and adolescents might respond to these shifts in any number of ways. Acknowledging global events within the family through age-appropriate conversations can be a crucial step toward reducing stress and enhancing communication during these unprecedented times. Getting creative as a family by using art materials at home is an opportunity to encourage family members of all ages to collaborate, connect and have fun together.

Suggestions for connecting and checking in with family members include:

  • Make time for consistent family meetings that encourage conversations
  • Look for opportunities to highlight strengths during stressful times
  • Take turns choosing family art activities to engage in together

Activity Idea: Easy DIY Chalk Paint and Family Flags

Below you’ll find a recipe for chalk paint that works great on sidewalks and driveways! Joining together as a family to mix up the chalk paint is an opportunity to involve all family members in the creative process. Try giving each person their own special role!

Materials and ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp washable paints (be sure to select paint that is labeled washable)
  • Paint brushes (larger, thick paint brushes will work best)
  • Cups/bowls

Instructions:

  1. In each cup or bowl, stir in 1 Tbsp of desired washable paint into 1/4 cup of cold water.
  2. Slowly add in 1/4 cup cornstarch while stirring the water and paint mixture. Your finished paint will have a water-like consistency.

Tip: The paint does dry on the sidewalk/driveway quickly and will wash off easily with rain or a hose!

Once you’ve mixed up and explored the use of your DIY chalk paint, we recommend trying the following project with your family:

Work as a team to create a family flag with your chalk paint. Flags have symbols and colors that represent different qualities of a country, state, group or movement. As a family, brainstorm some of the things that make your family special. What gives your family strength? Once you have some ideas, start by having one member draw the outline of your flag. Invite the littlest members of your family, who often have the tiniest voice, to pick the shape! You may want to section off parts of your flag to give family members their own space. Once finished, talk about each members’ contribution to the flag and keep those ideas about what makes your family strong and special during these unprecedented times!


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