The teacher wants to encourage kindness through experimental art projects. Source: Shutterstock.

In today’s most heartwarming news: an elementary school teacher in the US encouraged her young pupils to draw “anything that makes them feel happy” onto a dress for her to wear.

Fed up with the fact her school does not offer an art class, second-grade teacher Haley Curfman decided to take matters into her own hands two years ago.

She began thinking up ideas for projects her class could work on to spread happiness and allow their creativity to blossom.

Last week (for the second year in a row), Curfman took a plain white dress into school and told her students to draw anything that made them feel happy on it in coloured marker.

The only rule? No crossing out. Students have an awful habit of drawing a great big cross over their work when they decide they don’t like it, Curfman told Babble.

Instead, she encouraged her students to “turn their mistake into something beautiful.”

Curfman said doing “hands-on” artwork helps students absorb academic teaching more effectively as well as boosting happiness levels in the classroom.

“You can see it in their faces. They light up when they have those opportunities.”

“The dress is just one of many little projects I try to incorporate throughout the year to help inspire them.”

For another of Curfman’s art and happiness projects, the Blackwell Elementary School teacher brings in white T-shirts with the word “kindness” written on them for her students to write kind messages to each other.

The students wore their T-shirts during “Kindness Week” at an assembly this year and were then able to take them home as a Valentine’s present.

Curfman also asked her students to write kind words on feathers, which she used to create a stunning mural.

“I think [the projects are] a great creative outlet for students and an easy way for teachers like myself to incorporate a little fun art project into a school system that doesn’t offer art as a class,” she told Love What Matters.

Curfman said she has had many fantastic drawings and messages on her dress but the best one has to be a drawing of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, which took up almost the entire back of the dress.

“There’s not much you can do after that, but just laugh and wear it with pride,” Curfman told Babble. “I tell them to draw things that make them happy … well, there you go!”

She hopes the kindness won’t just stay in the classroom.

“Hopefully, the kind thoughts will go with them when they leave my classroom and they can spread that out into the world,” she told Love What Matters.

And what happens to the dress? The past two years Curfman has worn the dress at a school party – last year the Christmas party, this year, the Valentine’s Day party – then it’s hers to take home as a keepsake.

Last year, before smuggling the dress away, she decided to enter it into the County Fair’s “student” category in which it won first prize.

“My students were able to go look at their artwork and blue ribbon all week,” she told Love What Matters. “They loved it and were so proud.”

Curfman claimed she is only just getting started:

“I hope to make one every year. Who knows, maybe I’ll wear it at their high school graduation one day!”

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