Children's Corner: Art Therapy for Children

Hurricane Art

Dr. Peg Dunn-Snow
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Art Therapy Activities Help Children Prepare for Hurricane Season


In 1992, after Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida, I developed a list of art activities for children to help them understand their thoughts and feelings about their hurricane experience that year. Many of the activities are still relevant today, not only to heal from a hurricane experience but in preparing for one and taking a more pro-active approach. Please consider having your child complete some of the following art activities to help them weather the storms this season.
Activities that Acknowledge and Validate Children’s Feelings
1. Create a protest poster again hurricanes.
2. Draw the scariest event that occurs during a hurricane.
3. Draw what your anger or sadness might look like during a hurricane.
4. Draw when you feel in control (or out of control) during a hurricane.
5. Draw or paint anything that makes you feel happy or sad after a hurricane.
6. When you are feeling okay, draw how you help others going through a hurricane.
Activities that Help Promote Feelings of Trust and Safety
1. Create medal-of-honor for your parents for their positive actions before or during a hurricane.
2. If you cannot sleep at night, draw a picture of what you want your parents to do to help you.
3. If you are worried at school, draw a picture of what you want your teacher to do to help you.
4. If you are angry with God because of hurricanes draw or paint a picture and tell why.
5. Draw what helps you feel calm and safe. Include a person and a place in your picture.
6. Draw or paint a picture of the people and/or pets you help feel calm and safe.
Activities that Promote Problem Solving
1. Draw a picture of what you know about yourself as a result of your hurricane experiences.
2. Draw a picture of the advice you would give to someone on how to survive a hurricane.
3. Design a 3-D trophy acknowledging a problem you solved during a hurricane.
4. Draw the action or behavior you exhibit during a hurricane that makes you feel responsible.
5. Draw one thing you would teach the world about hurricanes.
6. Construct a 3-D survival kit and in it represent things you need today.
Activities that Help Children Live in the Here and Now
1. Draw a current event or situation in your life that hurricanes cannot change.
2. Create a picture book of all the activities you are planning to do on your summer vacation.
3. Draw a picture of how you feel safe now. Include a place in your picture.
4. Draw an event that the hurricane cannot stop from happening now.
5. Take photographs of your family getting ready for hurricane season.
6. Draw a picture of something you can do well now that you could not do a year ago.
Activities that Help Children Promote Hope for the Future
1. Draw an important possession of yours that has or will survive a hurricane.
2. Draw or paint a picture of how people help each other after hurricanes.
3. Draw or paint a picture of something you want to learn about at school next year.
4. Draw a picture of how you would like to celebrate your next birthday.
5. Draw what you hope to know after this school year is over.
6. Draw a picture of how your holidays will be the same this year after hurricane season.
Art therapy is an effective treatment for children to foster self-awareness and to reconcile emotional conflict through verbal expression and non-verbal art expression. Art is their first language when words are not enough. Art is a normalizing activity in the lives of children that helps them define their inner strengths to cope with experiences in their everyday living.   Engaging in the creative process can help children define and resolve hidden difficulties with family and relationship issues, personal trauma, and grief and loss, including divorce.   Art therapy can also be an outlet for difficulties related to serious medical illness, mental and emotional problems and language and developmental disorders, including autism. Art therapy serves all children including children at risk and children with special needs. For additional information about the art therapy profession please contact this author or visit the website of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) at

Dunn-Snow, P. (2007) Art Activities Help Students Prepare for Hurricane Season.Sports & Activities Directory, Plantation, Florida October, November, December (4), 10.