I got this idea from one of my amazing co-workers. It has proved to be a great art project to get children thinking about their own personal boundaries and defenses. To start, have the child draw a castle. The castle represents the child’s “core.” The “core” is the true part of us that holds all of the secrets and thoughts and feelings that we have. It is explained to the child that we all have people that we allow to know things about us, and there are other people that we keep out.
Then the child is asked what types of protections are in place to protect the castle to keep people out. Are there moats, brick walls, barbed wire, animals, guards, weapons, or locked doors? The child can draw and explain these protections.
Next, the child is asked what types of entrances are there to let people into the castle. Are there doors, windows, keys, tunnels, or ladders? How can people get in if you need them or want them to get in?
When the child is done creating their castle, and nothing else needs to be added, help the child explore the different concepts regarding the metaphor of the castle. Ask the child, who they let in past the various protections? Who do they keep out? What are the benefits of having people inside or outside of the castle? What do you need if you are in the castle alone? What are some of the ways you keep people from getting to know you in real life (ie. lying, yelling, shutting down etc.) ?
This activity can make abstract concepts like relationships, boundaries and defenses more concrete which can be helpful when working with children and families. One of the most important parts of this activity is being creative and having fun! Enjoy!