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In our art project design series, we provide you with an 8 session curriculum overview and lesson plans. These art projects have been designed for 1,5 hours each according to the Butterfly Art Project Method (BAP). These are teaching guidelines developed by BAP for art therapeutic children projects in disadvantaged communities in South Africa. Each art project design is free and available for download.

Art Project Designs 

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Cruelty and compassion


For children aged 9 to 11 years


Credit: Jojo's New School

This theme challenges participants to explore the worst parts of humanity set against our best - our ability to empathize and care for others.

In this Art Project, we explore the topic of bullying using a story called ‘Jojo’s New School’. In this story, a boy called Jojo starts a new school where he is bullied for wearing glasses. Although the story starts in a place of cruelty, Jojo soon experiences a lot of care and kindness and this transforms it into an ultimately positive story. Children in the art class will use this story as inspiration for a layered portrait with a tempera background and paper glasses that represent the cruelty Jojo experiences in the story.

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Trial of Courage

The Lighthouse

Helping others on their journey Art Project Design

For children aged 9 to 18 years

In this art project, the children will act as helpers to people (heroes) going on their ‘impossible’ journeys. In this art project, we use the lighthouse as a symbol of this help to people on their journey. A lighthouse warns sailors and ships when they are close to rocks, diverting them from danger.

In form drawing the lighthouse represents the vertical line, which the children practise and learn about in the basics of form drawing. The vertical line is also a reference to us as humans, the only mammals who walk upright. The children will learn what a tower is (vertical line), and then be introduced to sculpture. First in relief before they build their own lighthouse from materials that can be found in and around their homes.

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Fantasy Animals

For children aged 10 years and above

In this art project, we aim to educate children about treating all people with respect, even the ones who look or sound different to them. We aim to get children to understand that differences are good, that in diversity there is strength. All who live in South Africa need to contribute toward creating a beautiful country where different people and cultures love and care for each other. We aim to bring children to the realisation that this would be the true definition of a rainbow nation; that in a rainbow nation discrimination, xenophobia
and racism have no place. People need to live together in harmony and treat each other with respect and as equals, irrespective of the colour of their skin, their birthplace or their abilities, as these things should not determine a person’s standing in society. 

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The Corona Monster and More 

For children aged 9 years and above

As the whole world has been thrust into the extreme COVID-19 crisis there is general confusion, disbelief, fear, challenges of isolation, daily survival and an unpredictable future. Children in marginalized communities have their usual challenges of survival such as food scarcity, abuse, home and community instability, misinformation, not enough good role models; all these are aggravated during lockdown periods. With insufficient space for most, the need to socially distance is difficult to understand and to execute. The threat of illness and loss – spiritually and physically may not be fully understood by the child, but the emotional trauma and insecurity will be very real for them.   


With this art project, the aim is to provide an opportunity for children to release and express their feelings around lockdown. Providing scientific microscopic images of actual viruses, cells and bacteria for close observation, information and inspiration will give tangibility to the unseen threat. The children will create their own visualizations of the invisible “enemy”, recovery and potential cure. This art project aims to empower them using creative processes.  

This art project will incorporate close observation of microscopic images for creative inspiration and knowledge. This project incorporates the design elements of colour, abstract forms, shapes, rhythm, and repetition.  

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SuperHero Puppets

For children aged 9 years and above

Superheros and heroines are characters that possess supernatural or superhuman powers. They are often the survivors of very difficult circumstances in their own childhoods.

This art project of creating superhero puppets encourages children:

  • to connect to role models in their lives

  • to identify the needs and ills in their surroundings

  • to dream about possible role models that could help

    them, their families and their communities

  • to clarify the values that they hold dear

  • to experience the power of being a creator

  • to verbalize their own aspirations in life


Everything is connected!

For children aged 7 years and above

Everything looks diverse, but everything is connected. Everything nurtures something else. Showing different connections between humans, and the natural world using stories and subsequent artworks will help children understand that diversity is necessary and exists everywhere around us. It is part of our whole universe. Altogether it makes the whole.

Through understanding our connection to all things, children can be brought to the beginnings of understanding the values of empathy and gentleness in their daily lives and how there are many different viewpoints, all needing to be explored and respected. How people can work together and how people and nature can be in harmony.

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Dogs and Cats Collage Project

For children aged 9 years and above

Pets are important friends and mood stabilizers for many humans. The Collage Animal Art Project encourages an appreciation for domestic animals and fosters care for all animals we share the planet with. This appreciation leads to gratitude for the companionship and beauty pets add to the world.

The art project gives the opportunity to practice skills in large scale mixed media work using crayons, ink, oil pastels, watercolour, podge and scissors. Observation skills are taught by working from picture
references of animal faces. Composition in art gets practised by placing collage pieces together, fitting yes and mouth to a face, by deciding on colour ranges.

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The Gratitude Project

For children from the age of 8 years

Gratitude is the beginning of the development of morality in a child. The practice of gratitude also builds resilience and grows coping mechanisms which are needed in difficult and traumatic times. It enables us to endure and grow immunity to negative circumstances.

This art project was designed to grow gratitude in children from 8 years on for their well-being. The exploration of their own feelings of gratitude through guided art activities and gratitude practice exercises will give them an opportunity to grow stability, sound values, goals, mature traits, beliefs and a sense of purpose with non-verbal media. Each child will learn skills in fabric painting, hand sewing, embroidery and other forms of needlework.

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Flushed Away


A local high school felt that their detention classes were not proving effective. They were punitive but not reformative. They also identified that the cleanliness of the school toilets was hard to maintain as the learners do not take responsibility for this space.The project consists of personal smaller paintings and a group mural on the toilet walls for which the toilets and walls need to be cleaned and prepared.


Every session is designed for 2hr with a small break in between. The following art project aims to address lack of self-respect, lack of cleanliness, lack of responsibility and the lack of understanding of consequence. 

My Monster

Discover your monster, name it and Withstand it

The monsters of our times must be recognised and confronted to find solutions for or to counteract against them.
With this art project, we aim to support children and youth to identify problems through their creativity, to find adequate expression for their concerns, to explore healthy ways of fighting the monsters they face and to spark a fire in them to bring change to the world.
Monsters can also be called, dragons, shadows, evil, doubles, boggeltjies, tokoloshes, adversaries, challenges, disasters, threats, etc. There are inner monsters and outer monsters. The individual healing journey to deal with them would be:

  1. Discover the monster and name it.

  2. Find the courage to face it and get to know it: What is its origin? Who else knows it? When did/do you meet it? Does it live in you or in the outer world? Does it help you in some way? Is it of any use?

  3. What disarms the monster? Is there a spell against it? Depending on the nature of the monster, different solutions can be found:

  4. Transform it. Befriend it. Integrate it. Unmask it. Withstand it. Combat it. Reduce it

  5. Treat yourself and others with compassion.


Manifesting the New

I am who I choose to be

Artists from all over the Western Cape donated artwork they had not completed because they got stuck in their creative process. Others donated completed artwork and are asking children to add to them. Attached to the donated artwork will be a story and/or background description of the artwork, explaining the motivation at the beginning of the creative process and the reason it was not finished or is being passed on. The artist(s) pass on their uncompleted or unwanted artwork, trusting that the children will give them new life and a future. With the Butterfly Art Project’s 2021 art campaign, ‘Manifesting the New’, we aim to empower children and youth through a relevant and much needed art theme. This art project includes a painting process that will teach children how they can be present, realise the needs of the moment, listen to future impulses and take action to create something new.

In each lesson they will slowly add their very own new contribution, colour by colour, step by step. The painting process might be new to many of the children. Some will have no knowledge of the colour wheel and it is best to present it to the class and invite them to choose colours only from one half of the wheel. The children will need close guidance through the artistic process until they have learnt to respect the old artwork and treat the future additions with care.

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