Saturday, 29 March 2014

Learning about Feelings through play

I would like to introduce you to Kimochis, the toys with feelings inside. Kimochi, meaning "feeling" in Japanese, has been used in many educational settings to help children identify and express their feelings. We have been fortunate enough to have been given Clover to review and would like to share this wonderful learning toy with you all.

Kimochis has a range of characters, such as the green, lovable character named Clover, each with their own personality. Clover, like the other Kimochis characters, has a special friend called Howard, who is his lucky ladybug. Each character comes with "feeling" pillows. Together with Clover, we received the happy, optimistic and disappointed "feeling" pillows, which my children call his friends.

Understanding feelings can be very hard for young children, specially those children who have been bullied or have certain disabilities. So being able to identify and communicate their feelings effectively, can help young children transition through different situations in their life.
When I first removed Clover from the package, my children immediately were drawn to this new toy. I introduced Clover to my children by telling them a few different things about his personality that I read from the Feel Guide that had came in the set. My son immediately drew a connection with Clover as he found similarities between himself and Clover as they both "always mean well" and are sometimes "unlucky". We discussed each feeling and I gave them an example of when they might have that feeling, such as when they play with their friends they feel happy. I then let my children play with Clover and his friends for a few days and observed how they used them to learn about feelings through play.  
In the days that followed, I looked for opportunities to demonstrate and highlight these emotions (happy, disappointed and optimistic) to my children in our everyday life. When I could see that they were happy, I gave them the word "happy" for them to identify what they were feeling. There were times of disappointment, and again I offered my children a word to help them understand how they felt in that situation. 

Other opportunities to talk about our feelings arose naturally during play. My daughters, who are two years and four years old, used Clover and his friends during their pretend play times. It is during these play times that I listen closely to what my girls talk about as they act out different social and emotional situations/experiences that interest them or that they are experimenting with. Pretend play also builds vocabulary and thinking skills as they use expression in their voice tones when they take on the role as the character.

During their pretend play, my daughters portrayed different scenarios such as friends having dinner (in the picture below) and one of the friends not sharing. They used the words "disappointed" and "sad" to describe how their character felt when no one would share with them. They also used a lower voice tone and used their body language to express their understanding of this feeling.

My son, who is eight years old, used Clover and his friends differently to connect with the characters in a story we had read called The Pocket Dogs go on Holiday by Margaret Wild. My son used Clovers little friends to identify what the characters in the story were feeling in the different events that occurred in the book. Again, we also talked about different scenarios in our own life where we have felt happy, or optimistic or even disappointed. We used Clover and his "pillow" feelings  to act out the different scenarios and to show a positive way how to express our feelings. 

As a parent and a school teacher, I can see how this resource can be effectively used with young children to help build emotional awareness and their self confidence. By using a play-based approach where the characters such as Clover and his friends, are used to act out different scenarios can help build an understanding and an awareness of their feelings. I will be expanding our collection of Kimochis in order for my children to explore more feelings through play.

If you would like to see more play-based activities for learning about feelings, visit my pinterest board.

Disclosure: I was not paid for this post but was given Clover to review. All ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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