The I AM Program

Bringing Emotional Intelligence Education To Your Community for a Bright and Sustainable Future


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I AM A Tree

Posted by Arna on July 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (11)

NEW I AM workshop for you!

I AM A Tree explores connection with each other, through the world of the tree.

Age group 6-12yrs

This workshop can be adjusted to suit the very young child as well as the older child or teenager.

Part One


10 minutes

Part Two

Standing Visualisation

5 minutes

Part Three

Art Activity

Half Hour

Materials List

Large pieces of drawing paper, crayons/felt-tips/paint, brushes, water containers, glue, decorative recycled paper magazines, coloured paper, stickers, wool etc Things to glue on and decorate the artwork


Trees are gentle, natural and unique and as such make a perfect example of calm, connectedness for children (and adults) to contemplate.

In this workshop we will discuss the way trees look, how it feels to be near tree's in a natural setting and in how many ways the tree connects to the earth and to the environment including the animals that may use the tree as habitat. Another optional component to this workshop is the way humans use trees, for decoration, to appreciate, to be with for peaceful purposes, to create homes and more. Also for older children a discussion on responsible treatment of trees and the environment and how we could approach the use of trees in a responsible way, could be an exciting and revealing addition to the workshop.

We will visualise ourselves as a tree and contemplate how it might feel to be a tree, we will also relate the metaphor to ourselves and see how we connect to the world around us too, through our emotions and our actions. We will create either a mural of a tree and the way it connects to the world together, OR we will create individal artworks of ourselves as trees and all the things we grow on our trees including our positive emotions and values. 

Please read through the workshop and adjust to suit your diverse classroom or homeschooling needs

Part One


Engage the children in a short discussion about trees. Ask questions like 'if trees could talk what would they say?' 'what are some words to describe a tree?' 'How do you feel when you walk or play in nature?'  ' In what ways does the tree connect to the environment?'

Allow the children to be free in their responses, add your own ideas and if you would like, write down some of the words and phrases on the board for them to refer back to.

Remember to use emotional language like 'I FEEL peaceful when I am near a tree' or 'Sometimes I feel angry if I see someone chopping down a tree it makes my heart hurt' or 'when I climb a tree I get butterfly's in my tummy'.


Ask everyone to stand up and plant their feet firmly on the ground (outside with no shoes is preferable but not necessary) 

Guide the children in a very brief visualisation

Feel your feet on the ground, wriggle your toes into the floor/earth, Breathe in deeply all the way down to your feet, breathe out.

hold your arms out like branches on a tree, imagine your legs growing strong like a tree and your roots reaching and digging into the earth, breathe in.... breathe out

imagine you are sucking up water from underground rivers into your body, fresh cold water all the way into your head and arms.

sway your arms in the breeze...

imagine little birds landing on your branches... breathe in and out...

Think about other animals and the sun all helping you and connecting with you.

Now relax your arms and open your eyes.

Ask the children how this felt, allow them to talk about their experiences if they wish to. 

Ask questions like 'what kind of tree were you?' "how big do you grow?' what animals visited you?'

Art Activity

Bring out the materials and encourage the children to imagine they are a tree connecting to the world around them, ask them to create a picture of themseves and decorate it in a way that they enjoy using the collage materials or paint and pens. Ask them to think about the different emotions they feel and what they would like to grow more of. Example: happiness, love, freedom, peace and so on.

If children have negative feelings allow them to express them through the artwork, you can always follow up privately and open up a dialogue for their feelings. 


Opportunity to expand workshop into a tree planting day.

Older children might enjoy researching little known facts about tree's such as 'Singing tree's' or 'The largest tree'


for further workshops please go to The I AM Workshops and Lesson Plans  page

feel free to post your art on our" target="_blank">I AM For Kids Facebook Page

Baby Birds

Posted by Arna on July 2, 2014 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

As a visual artist I love to spend as much time making art as I can but with so many children running around this isnt always possible, UNTIL I get them in on it!

I thought I would share with you a little art task I set my children (and myself) the other day.

After finding a colourful bird photograph on the internet I asked the kids if they would like to make a forest of these birds with me.

We laid out our materials and began to paint and draw together. It was simple fun really and even when i was finished mine the children continued to make more birds and then when they exhausted their artistic inspiration they engaged their imaginations and became birds.

A beautiful afternoon spent listening to the exuberant chirping and flapping of colourful wings!

Feeling Stuck?

Posted by Arna on July 2, 2014 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Those stuck feelings, urghhhh, like that dream where your legs are too heavy to run, yet you MUST get away, only it’s not a dream, it is your life. I remember after my 6th child Daisy was born, feeling as though I was deep in mud, expected to care for all these little people I had brought into the world. I was in an emotionally charged fog and I think, looking back, if I had gone to a doctor they would have diagnosed PND. There was definitely depression and what seemed like a missing ingredient for an otherwise healthy, happy life, unfortunately I had no true idea of what that ingredient might be. I dearly wanted to lash out in blame but whatever was wrong it wasn’t something anyone else could fix. Little did I know that this feeling of ‘stuck’ was like a big hump just before momentum kicks in and things start to roll, it was my intuition pushing me to see things in a new and necessary way and the dark, weighty feeling I was experiencing was my well practiced resistance to change. We all deal with the intensity and discomfort of resistance differently, for me there is usually shouting involved, especially at that time in my life. Unusually though, instead of yelling at my husband or externalising my discomfort in some other way, I found myself lying around engrossed in the pain and seeking help from all sorts. One of my sojourns into desperate seeking led me to a Reiki Master who proceeded to take me through the levels of Reiki awakening. Each level brought on more clearing (and emotional pain) until one day I found myself on a mountain-top screaming at the universe. I AM WILLING TO CHANGE AND BE FREE, I AM WILLING TO CHANGE AND BE FREE…I screamed until my throat was raw and my heavy chest, finally empty. This was possibly the strongest, most profound intention I have ever made and OH MY GODDESS it worked! It was after that statement that things began to move swiftly for me, I went through months of intense awakening experiences and my external life took on a whole new character. I was changing rapidly and my life reflected this. There was so much power now and once I was able to get my bearings I felt renewed and had the strength to cope with whatever came next. Throughout my life since, I have learned to recognise the ’stuck’ feeling and acknowledge that I am resisting change, change that I have asked for, that I am on some level ready to allow. Now when I feel stuck I know it is time to soften and acknowledge my physical world and step up to the plate for the next exciting chapter of this every changing, endlessly fascinating life. My advice to anyone feeling stuck, must be, relax your body and embrace the change it is leading you somewhere warm, whole and wonderful.

Whether a parent, educator or neither, these stuck times can come out of nowhere and affect our lives if you need some help please contact me,



Kids In Touch and the Zen Warriors

Posted by Arna on February 17, 2013 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Recently Zen Warriors, undertook to pilot our Kids In Touch KIT with their group of Tweens with great success and positive feedback.

"My tweens are really embracing these affirmations from The I AM Program - 'I AM' For Kids and we are having some fabulous discussions about positive vs. negative self talk!"

The I AM Program is thrilled that their are so many wonderful children benefitting from these simple arts connected values workshops.

Spirit Breath

Posted by Arna on June 25, 2012 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (2)

Spirit Breath Workshop

The Spirit Breath workshop today was an awesome experience!

I am noticing a deeper a interest and respect for culture resonating as we enter the final workshops in the Big Spirit program.

This re-affirms for me the importance of running Indigenous awareness lessons coupled with emotional intelligence guidance as a consistent part of the school day.

The children are far more inclined to participate and are eager to learn, they are also more respectful of each other and seem to feel freer to speak with an emotional vocabulary, they feel safe and empowered.

Our workshop today SPIRIT BREATH involved a short listening meditation, the children visibly calmed and enjoyed bringing back information about the feelings in their body as well as what they could hear as they expanded their awareness from a place of stillness.

We then went on to listen to traditional Indigenous Didgeridoo and we noticed where the sound resonated in our bodies and how it made me feel, one child thought the music felt sad.

We also enjoyed a modern film clip that incorporated indigenous instruments and the children found this exciting, it seemed to broaden their mind in regard to musical expression.

For our activity we took sand paper and smoothed a selection of wooden sticks collected from the bushland.

We chose colours that felt good to us and painted our instruments.

The pride and appreciation on the children’s faces is evident in the photo’s, as their teacher and counterpart I was extremely pleased with the outcome of Spirit breath!


Posted by Arna on June 8, 2012 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)


Workshop 5

Big Spirit for Schools

Our discussion was brief today, focusing on the Australian Indigenous Walkabout tradition.

The children had once again no former knowledge of ‘Walkabout’ and why it might be of importance to Aboriginal people.

We talked about the natural environment and Indigenous spiritual connection to it.

We pondered on ‘why’ one might choose to go ‘walkabout’.

The children offered insight,

‘Maybe it is quiet in the bush and you can hear what goes on in your mind’

We took the discussion further on an emotional awareness level, with the question; Why might we want to hear what is going on in our mind?

'To get to know our selves better and make decisions that are better for us as individuals ‘cause we are all different.’

We talked about RESPECT and how respect for our world, our environment can grow when we spend time in it, marvelling at the beautiful things to be seen there.

We discussed how Indigenous culture and traditions such as ‘walkabout’ have a lot to teach us about getting to know our spirit and feeling connected to The Earth.

We went on a small walkabout around the school, each child took a turn to be leader of the line, there was no talking simply feeling our bare feet on the earth and listening to the wind in the tree’s.

We then painted an amazing 3 metre picture and left our painted footprints and cut out feet around the border.

The children smiled all the way through this workshop. I sense that the experiential nature of this session planted little emotional seeds that will sprout beautifully in years to come!

Feelin' IT! From BIG SPIRIT for schools

Posted by Arna on May 24, 2012 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Within our 'Feelin’ It' workshop at Stokers Siding School today we focused on Empathy.

The children used dictionaries and the Internet to acquire information and definitions.

Not one of the children had even heard the word Empathy before today!

We went on to share personal stories of empathy.

One lovely young lady was kind enough to share a heartbreaking story of being bullied at school and feeling terrible until a friend came and spoke kindly to her and comforted her by showing empathy.

We discussed the stolen generation and read a story written by a young Indigenous woman who had grown up on the missions. We talked of how there must have been a lack of empathy and understanding back when it was thought that the white Australia policy was a good idea.

I noticed that no children in the class, even Indigenous children were aware of the white Australia policy or had heard of missions. Some of the children referred to Aboriginals as dark people and one innocent child shared that she had been afraid to touch people with brown skin in case the colour rubbed off on her.

It was healthy to air our stories, fears and thoughts in a place of no judgement, having things out in the open is a big step in healing.

Other stories flowed, until through simple sharing and listening we had a good strong understanding of what empathy actually is and how necessary it is for a happy and successful life.

We learned how empathy might come in handy when we grow up. In a work situation our boss might be having a bad morning and treating his employees in an angry way, the employee might get angry back and argue or be mean and get fired or he might use empathy and emotional intelligence to see that the boss is having a bad day.The employee might offer him help or a cup of tea and find himself promoted!

We created paintings to further explore and express empathy and they were BEAUTIFUL!

Empathy was expressed in different colours and scenario's sometimes abstract sometimes literal always valid!

It seemed that most of the children dearly wished that we could all get along with each other and they could see that developing EMPATHY in all people would be an excellent start.

Our final moment was blowing up balloons filled with jelly-beans of all colours, on the balloons we had written words like hatred, fear, nastiness and racism. Each child read out their negative word HATRED and FEAR and noted these behaviours equal a lack of EMPATHY then burst the balloon and ate the lollies!

In this way we reaffirmed that in order to POP away these hurtful behaviours and state of mind we could employ empathy!

All in all a wonderfully successful class with a group of perspicacious, empathetic and emotionally intelligent future leaders!

Bullying.....Children are the future let us teach them well

Posted by Arna on February 16, 2012 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A few thoughts on bullying… Bullying, crime, violence and war are all symptoms of great unhappiness and personal/social frustration. They are states of mind that are driven to the point of external representation. Terror is anxiety at its peak, spurred on by fear. If you have ever experienced an anxiety attack you will understand to what extent the body responds to this fear. The endocrine system goes haywire, adrenalin is pumped in mighty unusable doses causing a domino affect including the increase of heart rate and hyperventilation resulting in absolute panic and terror. Left to it’s own devices this panic can carry you to awful internal spaces leaving you incapacitated, exhausted and petrified of repeated attacks. The emotional immaturity that causes people to fall into patterns of fear and anxiety also hover behind the choice to utilise bullying as a mode of expression. And this, surprisingly is the very same immaturity that lurks at the base of our current war mentality. The school uniform may be exchanged for combat gear, the competitive strategies more finely tuned and the minds more structured but the mentality is quite the same. Humanity is in dire need of different tactics. It is not a mature choice to hurt others to get a point across, to encourage change or even to defend ourselves. It often seems as though this is the only way but that is the inherant nature of the immature mind. We are deceived by our emotional immaturity to feel forced into choosing violent and /or manipulative response strategies. As minds evolve new solutions will become clear and easily accessible and non-combatal tactics will fall into place with ease and grace. We are at the point in human evolution of addressing social unrest from a different perspective. With natural catastrophe’s becoming more frequent and devastating, a call for connection, cohesion and emotional maturity has gone out. People are GOOD. It is clear that we DESIRE to communicate, resolve our conflicts peacefully and to ultimately love each other family, friend and foe. Moving into a place of emotional maturity must begin now. The way to effectively do this is to address it in the home and in the school system. Enough of focus on the problem and defending our right to be safe. Let’s speculate on a mature mind’s thought pattern, consider focusing diligently on the positives in a person or a situation. Bullying starts because a child has no other resource for expression. It doesn’t matter that we think we supply children with options, these options are hypothetical. The options we give children are just words and nebulous clouds of expectation. When adults are unconsciously supporting a set of values that approve of war on any level, their antibullying words lose power. Children respond to integrity, acting out restlessly in the face of an adult’s unresolved tension or confusion. We all need to address out tendency to violence. We need to take a look at our value systems, uncovering the bullying that we rely on to make our lives ‘work’. Once we begin this process there is no turning back, life becomes an exciting unravelling of possibility. Most beautifully we find we are able to communicate with each other on a deeper and more effective level. Children LISTEN to us finally and it is easier to lead by example! We can properly teach emotional maturity because we are growing ourselves. Emotional intelligence is all that is missing in this world. What a different place it will be once we open up our minds in this way. Instilling the option of a positive value system and command over choices and emotions will be the greatest gift we can give to our children and to our future. Ease the frustration that lurks within our children through connection and communication, through personal responsibility and honesty and we will have prevented bullying. Once we see playground bullying decreasing we will know we are on track for a more peaceful future. The actions of the next generation will clearly indicate wether we have been successful in raising our maturity levels and consequently the maturity levels of our children to an acceptable level. I think this is an EASY task we just have to have the courage to START NOW.

Developing Our Emotional Intelligence

Posted by Arna on February 9, 2012 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (2)

It takes courage to face the parts of us we hide from the world and from ourselves. But when we are willing to explore the possibility that we are more than who we have been led to believe we are, we can expect GREAT results. Emotional intelligence is about developing awareness of emotions in ourselves and the people around us. It is about developing the smarts to navigate our lives in the best possible way for us. We all use emotional intelligence everyday to say the right thing, to get what we want or to make an impression. We use emotional intelligence to survive. But the simple fact is we are often using it without a healthy value system. We are using our emotional intelligence habitually from old programs often peppered with neglect and negative self-image rather than from a place of conscious awareness. As we follow old programming, react to things that happen to us in the same ways over and over, think the same types of thoughts again and again, we are continuously creating neural patterns in our brain that support the old way; in effect it is a vicious cycle that makes it easy to keep living the same life we’ve lived so far. To change our lives we must first change the thought system that has been allowed to cluster and flourish in our mind. When we use our natural E I to make the choice to construct a positive value system, think healthier thoughts and grow different neural clusters, ones that support rather than sabotage our idea of a successful life, we cannot help but notice awesome changes! Sometimes as we change it can feel uncomfortable and scary, this is because it is unusual. We may have no frame of reference for happiness or achievement and old unwanted parts of the brain are struggling to remain active etc. This is ok, it is about remembering that the uncomfortable or frustrated feelings are simply that, no more than a FEELING with no more power to hurt, than you, as the boss, give it. Your feeling’s can not sustain the emotional pain they may trigger if you are in charge. When you say ‘I am aware that this is a feeling and I am tracking it/ observing it…you will see it dissolve…it is like a cut on the body, attend to it and it heals. It is only when you are unconscious, not tracking it and letting it walk all over you, allowing it to lead you into thinking unsupportive thoughts that you can get wired into a state of confusion. When this happens you must remind yourself that you are the boss and employ some of the positive techniques we will learn through this program to get yourself into the habit of choosing wellbeing over the ‘old and easier’ way. When you do this often enough the new positive and successful and powerful you becomes the EASY WAY and the old one dies off! High emotional intelligence is the mark of a happy and successful human being. We are all capable of developing our E I, in fact not only capable but it is our RIGHT to have the opportunity to develop it. Sometimes due to our life circumstances emotional intelligence gets left out of the equation. And we suffer as a result. But now we are old and wise enough to take on the job of developing our own self-awareness, of giving ourselves the opportunities and options in life that we deserve! This is GOOD NEWS! Even MORE GOOD NEWS, the brains is wired to do as it is told and we have the power to command its growth!

Little Butterfly's!

Posted by Arna on January 21, 2012 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Catherine from LITA or 'Love is the answer' has been working with little orphans in Uganda.

She has been growing their imagination through the use of The I AM Programs 'My Imagination' workshops!

We are so proud to be involved with the growth of these kids even from a distance.

With the development of vision and hope these young people become the pioneers for positive change!

Please go to The Lita website and see the butterfly pictures! 

A NOTE FROM CATHERINE: These butterflies all came to life during an I AM workshop created by our friend Arna Baartz in OZ. First the children drew their own butterfly with a pencil. Then they dove into coloring with wax and pencil crayons and then I asked each one to search around the grounds for something they wanted to decorate their creation with. All of them found a wrapper or label or some piece of discarded paper that would do the trick! We set about cutting, and gluing in the areas they reserved for the adornments and wow, their beautiful butterflies emerged! It was a very fun and inspiring afternoon during which we discussed "Change and Transformation" and how every day, every moment, is full of the unlimited potential for both! Thank you Dear Arna ~ Blessings in Love ~