Our first ‘theme’ for the new academic year – such as it is for those of us who learn at home – has been Feelings and Emotions, borne from a few things happening in our family, and a number of occasions where Ameli (6) has said that she can’t explain her feelings, and general outburst of anger from Aviya (4).
I’m never entirely sure how much of what we discus is ‘sinking in’ with the girls, so it’s always rewarding in the days and weeks that follow an activity to see the children refer back to it, or change behaviour based on it. While this theme wasn’t particularly academically approached, more with arts and crafts and fun activities, it was still influential, with both girls coming out of it with a greater ability to ‘use your words’ rather than just shouting.
I chose a range of activities for this week, including foods, crafts, games and activities:
We had two food based activities this week. The first was simple pancakes with fruity faces. You can use any recipe you prefer, and add fruit like blueberries for eyes, bananas or strawberries for a nose and clementines for smiley or sad faces.
Read more: Learning About Feelings And Emotions
We’re nearing the end of our Feelings and Emotions activities, and this particular activity took some planning and a bit of driving around. You can adapt it to what’s local to you, but we are lucky to have ocean and forest equally close to us.
Have you ever felt an overwhelming need to be somewhere specific? For example, when I was 42+3 pregnant with Aviya, I felt a desperate need to be at the coast. We lived a couple of hours drive from the ocean at that point and there is an inherent foolishness to being that overdue and going on a trip away, but I knew in my very bones that I needed to put my feet in the early spring sea water before that little bundle of joy was going to join us. It wasn’t the water, the beach or the drive that was going to ready me for labour and birth, though – it was the feeling of introspection and deep calm I always feel on the water – or at the very least on the water’s edge.Read more: Exploring Feelings In Different Places
On the theme of Feelings and Emotions, a fun, easy and cheap game to put together for the kids is one we’ve called Paper Plate Feelings Charades, but it can also be played as an emotions ‘Who am I’ kind of game.Read more: Paper Plate Feelings Charades
I have a whole drawer full of printed games and puzzles and activities that I can pull out whenever we need something to change the narrative on our day. One of the activities that I recently added to this collection was a faces & feelings matching game (download it free here). I printed it and laminated it and keep them for a quick, five minute activity from time to time.
You can do it either way – lay out the faces and match the words, or lay out the words and match the faces to them. There are more words than faces because some faces can match a variety of words – like terrified and yelling.
You can either pull out extra words so that you can focus on the words you’re interested in, or you can leave it as is.
Read more: Face & Feelings Matching Game
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a new friend, Donna Jones Mbe. Donna worked with ‘at risk’ and vulnerable teenagers in Sheffield for 31 years, so when it comes to talking about feelings and emotions, she was a font of information and ideas of how to have a meaningful session with the children. One of the activities Donna recommended was to lay each child on a roll of paper and draw an outline around their forms. As it turned out on the day, we didn’t have enough paper on our long IKEA roll, but we did have little person-shaped-foams*, and I decided to use those. Read more: Five “About Me” Questions For Children
This week, on Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, we combined Matilda’s boats and our feelings and emotions themes and made paper boats, which we set free on the ocean.
I’ve always been particularly fixated on the line from the Matilda movie
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.”
I guess it speaks to what’s always been my attraction to the ocean – the freedom, the weightlessness of water, a whole world of separate reality.
The kids have had some difficult news this week, so I’m very conscious of their feelings and fears right now – more than they seem to be, since they need some prompting about things that they may be worried or upset about. Never the less, identifying your worries and setting them free is a useful skill to have, and one well-started in childhood.
There are many tutorials on-line on how to fold a paper boat, so I won’t remake the wheel, but instead will share one here from Big Enough Umbrella as I found it the easiest to follow: Read more: Cast Away Worries On A Worry Boat
Carrying on with our emotions and feelings theme, we made balloon-stress balls with faces on them for the different major emotions.
We started off filling the balloons with oats, but after a couple decided to do it without – I could just see the living room filled with oats! – and decided instead to only blow the balloons up a small bit – about a quarter of their capacity. This gives them a lot of room to stretch which means they can still squish and squeeze it.
Read more: Easy ‘Feelings’ Stress Balls
I really enjoy game cubes – I’ve made a few of them over the course of parenting, like this activity cube for rainy days – and was going to make one for animals & emotions to go with our feelings and emotions theme, but then happened across this printable version on Twinkl. I decided to save my wooden blocks for another time, and printed this emotional animals game instead.
Read more: Printable Emotional Animals Game
We’re talking about feelings and emotions at the moment, because both seem to be running high with my four-going-on-fourteen and six-going-on-sixteen year olds. Sometimes its hard to know what really sinks in, but this evening as we were climbing into bed, my youngest was becoming shouty, then stopped herself and said “Mommy, I’m feeling sadness” – the sadness was about going to bed, which was promptly ended by falling asleep, but it was progress, still!
I saw a picture of window charms made from melting beads somewhere recently, and it struck me as a good way of showing how different emotions and feelings can be amassed in a melting pot to make a life – spend the majority of your days angry, and you’ll have an angry life. Spend the majority of your days joyful and you’ll have a joyful life. (With the obvious exception of mental health concerns.) I wanted to demonstrate this visually.
First I rummaged around for a variety of beads and poured them into a muffin case and labelled each colour on the tin.
In our example I used white for happiness, pink for joy, light blue for sadness, dark blue for anger, dark pink for fear and orange for disgust – these being the six major emotions. Read more: Using Beads To Show How Feelings Affect Life
We’re talking about feelings and emotions in our home education ‘theme’ for the moment, brought on by angry shouting by my six year old including things like “I just can’t explain what I feel and you don’t understand!”. I normally try to start by saying that I don’t understand things well when I’m being shouted at, and that brings the tension down pretty quickly, but it has led me to an awareness that perhaps an analysis of emotions wouldn’t go amiss.
Of course I don’t want this to be just a tough, heavy and theoretical discussion, so we started our first day by watching the movie Inside Out, which I think is really good for introducing the idea of separate emotions and how they work together to create ‘us’.
After a busy afternoon we spent a short time together making emoji chocolates using this fantastic Emoji silicone mould*. It’s such a good opportunity to discuss the different faces and feelings in a non-threatening, non-teachy way.
Read more: Using Emoji Chocolates To Talk About Feelings And Emotions