A still from the video Art as a Tool for Social and Emotional Learning. © 2024 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Shown: Claude Monet. Water Lilies. 1914–26. Oil on canvas, three panels, each 6' 6 3/4" × 13' 11 1/4" (200 × 424.8 cm), overall 6' 6 3/4" × 41' 10 3/8" (200 × 1276 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund

How can art help us process our emotions, experiences, and beliefs? As social worker Katherine Tineo-Komatsu puts it in the video below, “Art is a way of letting our emotions come out in a way that’s healthy, constructive, and conducive not just to our wellbeing, but to other people’s wellbeing and wellness.”

As museum educators, we seek to support conversations that prompt connections between students’ lives, the lives of artists, and artworks. Our online courses share techniques and approaches for teachers to use inquiry, activities, and accessible themes in their classrooms. We incorporate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in our teaching to help students reflect on their individual and shared experiences. SEL is a process of developing our ability to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, establish healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Engaging with art and art-making offers opportunities to cultivate self-awareness, social awareness, and compassion—skills one can start developing at any age.

Learn more about Social Emotional Learning with these MoMA resources.

Draw an object every day to help you slow down and be more attentive to your surroundings. Make a quick sketch of something in your everyday environment and notice how it changes from day to day based on your mood, or on external factors such as lighting and perspective.

Discover how to develop your students’ awareness of themselves and their community through art by enrolling in Teaching with Art, MoMA’s online courses for primary and secondary educators.

Explore more lesson plans for art and SEL developed by MoMA educators.

Thanks to Arlette Hernandez and Rachael Schwabe for their contributions to this project.

The Adobe Foundation is proud to support equity, learning, and creativity at MoMA.