The “Tree of a Balanced Life” grant project sponsored by the Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation (www.jamiehulleyartsfund.org) focused on the hands-on learning experience of using art to express quotes and thoughts on how to live a more balanced life. The project promoted Race Brook School’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) program by promoting the cultivation of mindfulness, gratitude, and expression of love for oneself and others in daily life. A local yoga and mindfulness instructor, Lani Rosen-Gallagher, from Full of Joy Yoga in New Haven visited the fourth grade classrooms at Race Brook School in Orange to spend two half hour sessions discussing mindfulness meditation, daily mantras, and gentle yoga stretches to encourage mindfulness, gratitude, and expression of love for oneself and others in daily life. Following her presentation, students wrote journal entries reflecting on specific personal examples of how they can apply the yoga instructor’s teachings to promote more balanced and positive behavior towards others in their daily lives.
The fourth graders also researched inspiring and motivational quotes to promote more daily balance and positive behavior. Students chose a favorite quote and wrote a journal entry explaining their personal interpretation of the quote. Fourth grader Niko Z chose the quote: “Make the world lovely”. For him he says, “This means that I want the world to be a better place. We can all do nice things for each other, so it makes people feel happy.” Fellow classmate Jana A. chose the quote: “Reach high, for the stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal”. For her she explains this quote means, “You can make it to the top with your dreams. Try to make your dreams come true. Ask for help. Make new friends. Try hard. Don’t stop dreaming!”
A local artist was commissioned to paint a tree on a canvas representing a “tree of a balanced life”. Each student decorated a colorful leaf with a word to represent the theme of their quote, and the artist attached each leaf to the tree. The tree became a collaborative, visual artistic expression that promotes mindfulness, gratitude, and expression of love for oneself and others. The canvas will be hung in the school library to serve as a model to promote positive behavior and growth for students and teachers and, as a result, to enhance the well-being of others in the school and local community.
- Students from Mrs. Bronson’s Fourth Grade Classroom practicing a yoga pose during one of Lani Rosen-Gallagher’s yoga sessions
- Fourth Grade teacher and grant writer, Valerie Anton, with artist, Joanna Escandon, holding the “Tree of a Balanced Life” canvas
Article & Photos Submitted by: Valerie Anton, Grade 4 Classroom Teacher