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I agree with Joy here. I work with h.s. kids from a very depressed area, high
incidence of abuse, teen pregnancy, drugs, the whole nine yards. I find the
more tactile the work the better the behavior of the students. I do have a
very strict "nothing flies through the air, ever..." rule from the get-go.
Media such as clay, weaving, beading, paper mache' all have the potential for
huge mess, but also have a relaxing repetition of movement while working with
them that is calming. I explain this to the kids as a positive form of stress
release when we discuss both positive and negative ways people deal with the
stress of everyday life.
Murals are the other amazing way to engage even the most hard core kids. It
took me three years of convincing my principal to let me paint an exterior
wall with students, but it paid off. Now we have 36 murals on our campus. The
school gets "tagged" regularly, but never on the murals. It is literally the
only thing that motivates some kids to come to school. And, those murals are
the only connection that makes them feel like they belong there.