OSP Social & Emotional Learning Art Curriculum for Schools©

Social & Emotional Learning Art Curriculum for Schools

Open Studio Project has developed a process-oriented approach for creative arts education aligned with Illinois SEL and visual arts standards which support student social and emotional development. OSP is one of the first art-based organizations in Illinois to develop an evidence-based curriculum incorporating a creative methodology and SEL and visual arts goals for all students, including those with communication disorders, autism, and special needs.

During 12 weeks of art project lessons facilitated by OSP’s trained instructors, students explore and develop stronger skills in creative art expression while learning the skills for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship-building and responsible decision-making.

The Curriculum Includes:

  •  Two trained Open Studio Project Facilitators
  •  All Art Materials, Including Drop Mats & Smocks
  • Staff Professional Development Opportunities

Each Lesson includes:

  • A Teacher’s Guide
  • SEL & Art Objectives
  • SEL & Art Vocabulary
  • Project Instructions
  • Emotion Faces, Calming Activity
  • SEL Learning Prompts
  • SEL & Art Inquiry & Reflections

Why SEL?

  • Relationships provide a foundation for learning.
  • Emotions affect how and what we learn.
  • Social and emotional skills can be taught.
  • SEL has a positive impact on academic outcomes, health, relationships, student voice & citizenship.
  • SEL reduces classroom management
  • SEL coordinates a framework to avoid fragmentation of prevention and positive youth development programs, addresses equity from trauma (SEEL).
  • SEL skills and attitudes are demanded by employers.
  • There is a proven 17-20% increase in positive social behaviors post our SEL Curriculum


The Lessons

OSP’s SEL Art Curriculum lessons meet Illinois SEL and visual arts standards, and are sequenced to reflect both the artistic, creative learning process and the SEL skills instructional sequence.

Lesson #1 Art Animals SEL Skill: Self-Awareness
Lesson #2 The Shape of Me SEL Skill: Self-Awareness
Lesson #3 Food Fest SEL Skill: Self-Awareness
Lesson #4 Under the Ocean SEL Skill: Self Awareness & Self-Management
Lesson #5 Into the Woods SEL Skill: Self-Awareness & Self-Management
Lesson #6 Outer Space SEL Skill: Responsible Decision Making
Lesson #7 Metamorphosis SEL Skill: Self-Management
Lesson #8 Treasure Box SEL Skill: Social Awareness & Relationship Skills
Lesson #9 Thank You Banners SEL Skill: Relationship Skills
Lesson #10 Marvelous Machines SEL Skill: Relationship Skills
Lesson #11 Art Garden SEL Skill: Responsible Decision Making
Lesson #12 My Town SEL Skill: Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, & Responsible Decision Making


Social Emotional Learning Art Curriculum Training

Learn about our new evidence based social-emotional learning art curriculum.  Train directly with the curriculum authors, practitioners, and art therapists working in Chicago-area schools.

In-person includes all art supplies and studio use.  Virtuals will be given a supply list (for out-of-towners only).

This workshop will include some lecture and hands-on lesson examples.

SEL & Art Goals:


  • Gain confidence in their creative abilities
  • Experience joy in creative expression
  • Gain tools to understand emotions and manage stress
  • Learn skills to control impulses and be fully engaged
  • Gain a greater respect for others and their work
  • Become a more reflective problem solver

History of OSP and SEL

Even before Illinois became one of the first states to implement Social and Emotional Learning instruction in schools (2003), OSP saw a need we knew we could fill. In the 1990s our instructors began facilitating OSP’s individualized, process-oriented creative arts projects and incorporating social and emotional skills learning for youth.

In 2016 we decided to put the lessons into a formal SEL and Art Curriculum for schools. The initial instructional pilot for our SEL and Art Curriculum program in 2017 was in local Evanston District 65 schools, K-6.  Our pre-and-post SEL learning assessment surveys showed an 18% average gain in student social and emotional skills after participating in the program.

In early 2019, OSP began collaborating with Evanston Cradle to Career to bring a new PreK version of the SEL & Art Curriculum to preschools throughout South Evanston, including Reba Early Learning CenterChildcare Network of Evanston, and Learning Bridge Early Education Center.  OSP also has continued to partner with District 65 schools and educators. We continue to pilot the Curriculum and student SEL learning assessment survey in K-8 schools to strengthen the evidence-base.

We are currently partnering with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to bring the SEL and Art Curriculum to 4th & 5th graders at Seward Academy, 6th Graders at Ruben-Salazar and a blended class of K-5th diverse learners at Irving School.  We also have provided professional development programs for CPS educators and school counselors.

If you are interested in more information about our SEL and Art Curriculum or partnering with Open Studio Project to bring the lessons to your school, please contact   sarah@openstudioproject.org

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