So during this very busy time of year for us as adults, our students are bound to be getting a little bit excited too — what with Santa coming and all — not to mention a winter break just around the corner! I invite you to consider using the power of art to teach your students how to s-l-o-w down.

Our world has become so fast-paced, it’s more important now than perhaps ever before that we teach our students how to practice this vanishing skill. Carefully looking at something… anything… studying it with an artist’s eye… will begin the process of thoughtful evaluation and thinking. This could be as simple as looking at something from nature that you’ve provided, to asking everyone to bring in something small from the playground after recess, to studying an art print. A great deal of time isn’t necessary, but focus is. In fact, the more your students practice really looking at things, the more they will be able to sustain their focus for longer and longer periods of time and the more details they will notice. Vocabulary can also be a part of this exercise as you encourage them to look for things like color, texture, line, form, shape… Maybe they’ll write a sentence or two about what they’ve observed, or maybe there will be some discussion with a partner or the class, or maybe none of these things, depending on your schedule. What’s important here is that you guide your students to slow down and to take a break — a quiet, focused break — to notice, to study, and to appreciate the world around them. If you’re brave and have the time, you might want to have your students draw what they are observing. (Trust me, you will never look at an object in quite the same way once you have really looked at it and have drawn it — try it yourself!)