Updated: Feb 7
There are so many lessons I love teaching my students. I try to knit God's love and faith into many of the projects. This post gives a peek into a very special art class where I used black lights and neon circles to teach about God's love, kindness and more. I am offering art parties locally so people can invite friends or neighbors to join The Circles Of Hope Challenge in a really fun way. Feel free to use some of these ideas to host your own art party!
The students were asked to walk into a room with their eyes closed. The lights were off. I asked the students to keep their eyes closed. (If you want to simply find out about The Circles Of Hope Challenge, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page or click here)
"Imagine you are having a bad day. Think of things that cause you to feel down or sad. Maybe you got in a fight with a family member or friend. You might even feel like God is far away! Describe what you see. (Answers typically are gray or black). Okay, on the count of three I want you to open your eyes." On three, when students open their eyes I turned on two black lights. Their expressions were absolutely priceless. I wish I had recorded them! Mouths dropped and transformed to awe, excitement and joy!
Around the room I had spread neon circles with encouraging words (photos don't capture the whole scene). "Now what do, you see? Yes, you see neon colors, shapes and words. God is like the black light! He is with us even in darkness. Prayer is what brings God closer and lights the darkness. He helps us see things differently and brings us hope."
"One thing I want to point out is how white glows and stands out. When we seek to have pure hearts we shine Jesus love the brightest. Neon colors stand out and are like kindness. How do the neon colors make you feel? How do the words make you feel?
The fact you can see color, shapes, textures and read words to encourage your heart is a gift from God. This is something you can choose to be grateful for. God is showing his deep love for you in giving you the ability to see color and to read and hear words that encourage our heart.
On gloomy days when you are down or discouraged, I want to focus on God's love shown through all the colors and shapes and textures you can see. I want you to walk around the room and read out loud the words that encourage you the most.
Now, someone turn on the lights. Which colors stand out to you most to you? Yes, most definitely the neon colors. I have come to see neon colors like kindness and our faith. Kindness stands out! We were not created to blend in. We were created to stand out! In a crowd, in a classroom or anywhere we go, it is those who are kind that stand out.
We all want to be remembered for something! In years to come you will not remember what someone wore or their shoes. You will remember how someone made you feel. Most likely, those who were kind or unkind will be remembered. What do you want to be remembered for? Do you want to remember being kind or the person who made fun of others?
Whenever you see anything neon, I hope they become a silent challenge and reminder to be kind. Remember,"Kindness is like neon colors"! Neon stands out and draws attention! You in the same way are to shine like stars by being kind to everyone around you (including family)!
Let's talk about ways we can live neon lives! (The students and I came up with the following ways to "live neon") We live "neon lives" when we do things others are unwilling to do and do so cheerfully; instead of being clingy or possessive of our friends, we should be inclusive of others and not exclusive; stop being sarcastic; don't ever make fun of others; instead of pointing out something negative, we should point out the positive; instead of trying to show off, we should try to point out the strengths and good things about others; we should speak to parents and siblings with kindness; our tones and expressions can show kindness. We should study others whose lives exemplify kindness.
Let's talk more about sarcasm, teasing and making fun of others. What purpose does it serve? Does it make people feel good and build them up? What are better ways to communicate? The words you say to your siblings can have a lasting impact for years to come. You can be the one God uses to build up their siblings or your words and attitudes towards siblings can damage and wound their hearts. Sarcasm, laughing at others and poking fun negatively affects friendships and family bonds.
I want to challenge you all to start a kindness revolution. Art is not just about painting and drawing, it is about making art with our lives and our words. Our words, expressions and tones are powerful and can wound and destroy. Or we can use words to build up others! When you paint on others lives with kindness you become an artist warrior.
Today, I am going to present a challenge to you to live neon lives and ask God to help you. I am now going to pass out the mini blacklight flashlights. These symbolize God's presence in your life. When you pray to God it is like turning on the UV flashlight/invisible ink pens. Each time you use this light I am praying you will remember the importance of prayer and staying connected to God.
Some of the things you do will be unseen. This is like the invisible ink. Words you speak, or write to encourage someone, others may never see or hear. But those words and acts of kindness can make a life long impact in someones life.
The second part of this challenge is that I am inviting you to join a 30 week challenge, called The Circles Of Hope Challenge, to use art to encourage others. You can use written words to paint on other hearts with the colors of hope or you can use art and words! I will provide ideas each week through videos online. Or you can make your own.
Let's take a look at how these small acts or kindness and arts of kindness can multiply over 30 weeks. Prepare to be AMAZED!
Each week you leave a "hope circle" randomly to encourage someone. What you write can be simple like the circles in the room. Most of the time we will leave them randomly somewhere. But not always.
Each week invite someone to join The Circles Of Hope challenge. If you can't make a list of 30 people, then you can print and cut these invites out and place them somewhere with a kind note. There are invites with tabs for coffee shops and mailboxes or mini invites.
I will make my notes on circles because circles stand out. But you don't have to because Circles Of Hope is also about an invisible circle of friends joining together to cover our world with hope through "arts of kindness". What other shapes might stand out?
I will have lessons online for those who want to create artistic notes. We will use art to paint on hearts. The link will be in the lesson plans each week or you can find them here.
You do not have to be artistic. You can just write words on a circle and leave it somewhere randomly. I will leave mine on mailboxes, coffee shops, Chickfila drive through, grocery stores and so many other places. We are like ninja artist warriors spreading hope in a undercover operation. Some weeks I will collect the notes and take them to give to nurses, policemen, firemen and more.
An extra challenge is to use The Circles Of Hope Challenge to share the love of Jesus! On the back of my circles I write notes that talk about the love of Jesus and write my churches website. My hope and prayer is that someone that doesn't know about the love of Jesus will be drawn to pick up the circle and eventually come to church and ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
Who wants to join the challenge? There is grace involved. If you have a really busy week or miss a week or two, just leave more notes the next week and double up on asking people to join the Hope Circles community. Let's "Dream BIG and stay small". We are going to dream big in believing that through us billions can be touched with hope and God's love as we invite more people to join us. "Stay small" means that our "arts of kindness" sprinkled everywhere each week don't need to draw attention to ourselves. Instead those notes are like a small grain of rice that will multiply. We are dreaming REALLY BIG! I believe it is truly possible to spread millions if not billions of notes through our city as we multiply by inviting others to join us."
For those who wanted to join the challenge, I commissioned them as artist warriors using fluorescent paint sticks. Three stripes each for the warriors. But, well ahem... they were so excited some didn't hear the instructions and had quite a bit of fun painting their own style warrior face! We spent a lot of time talking about what it means to paint on hearts and be artist warriors. We are going to join together and fight back against the enemy by creating a kindness revolution of hope. It was a different kind of art day! But one of the most memorable ever! This was one of my top favorite classes ever! I hope and believe the students will never forget this day! I know I won't.
There are printables to make it easy for students to invite people to join the challenge. Some adverts can be put on mailboxes or in coffee shops (ask manager first) and they have tabs at the bottom for people to tear off (cut in between tabs to make it easy). There are others that have 4, 9 or 16 a page. You print back and front for the 4, 9 and 16. The back explains more about the challenge. There are black and white pages at the bottom of the PDF to save on colored ink. If you print the black and white on colored or neon cardstock it is just as eye-catching as the color copies! Click here to access the file.
There are also lots of free printables to print and give away or simply color. Please know this can easily become a family challenge including all of your kids. What a beautiful thing to encourage others and tell others about the love of God through random "arts of kindness"!