Starting this week, I will be partnering with my favorite Park Slope children's bookstore, Stories Bookshop, to share a book of the week. Each book will offer some kind of social emotional lesson that will help in increasing children's social intelligence and awareness. In my work at The Meeting House, I have found just how valuable a tool children's books can be in helping children become more aware of a variety of social challenges. It's difficult for younger children to be able to identify the difficulties they may be having and how that is impacting their social success. However, they are often able to
Below, you will find a few questions and activities that you can do in conjunction with reading The Color Monster:
~for each feeling and color, have your children tell you one thing that makes them feel that way. If they are struggling, you may tell them what makes you feel that way which may help in triggering an answer on their end.
~use this as an opportunity to talk about some coping strategies the monster could use to help them through some of the bigger emotions like anger and sadness. Providing kids with coping strategies allows them to be more in control of their feelings and emotions in a variety of environments. By talking about them and practicing them at home, kids will have a better chance of being able to generalize their skills later on.
~at The Meeting House, we had the kids make a feelings chart with each of the colors. On a long piece of paper, we drew empty jars that they had to fill in with different colored objects that matched the feeling. The OT in me had to make it as therapeutic as possible so added as much of a sensory component as I could so we used all kinds of tactile materials such as pom-poms, shredded up tissue paper, bumpy cardboard paper, etc.. We encouraged parents to hang this feelings chart up someplace that the kids had easy access to so when they were feeling upset or angry or any other feeling but can't express it they can have a visual to help them out. Many of our parents have shared with us that this has been one of the most helpful tools not only for the children, but that parents have used it to show their children how they are feeling at different times to help them understand that EVERYONE has feelings and sometimes can't talk about them.
~whenever possible, I like to incorporate some kind of gross motor activity. I have found that kids are able to generalize and internalize anything I am teaching if we provide multi-sensory activities. One game that kids love is Freeze Dance. I found this squishy toy at Duane Reade that has all different emojis on it that I have the kids roll when the music stops; they then shout out the emotion to the group and everyone has to act it out. Not only does this help kids learn about feelings and emotions, it helps with improving modulation and regulation skills.
I am really looking forward to sharing some of my favorite children's books with you all this year. If any of you have any books that you love, please pass them along to me and my readers! I am always a click away and love hearing from you all with your ideas.