Developing a language around feelings and body signals is the first step in learning how to manage emotions. But teaching children about feelings and body signals can feel tricky. If we are in a classroom or group setting, we may worry that they reveal something personal in front of other children. Or we may be concerned that we don’t have the skills to talk about uncomfortable feelings or body signals.
The good news is, there are many fun and simple ways to support children to build their social and emotional skills. One easy way to make these conversations fun is to use tactile resources.
Here are a few suggestions for ways to use The Bears and Stones…have feelings too! stickers to have conversations with children about feelings and emotions. Or check out these ideas for using other tactile resources.
- Recognising feelings and body signals
Write a list of common feelings on a large sheet of paper (or A4 sheet if you are working one-on-one with a child) – this could include things like happy, sad, angry, tired, calm, frustrated, bored, excited or scared. Ask the child or children to choose 1-2 The Bears or Stones…Have Feelings Too! stickers to represent each feeling in the list. Stick them on the paper next to the relevant feeling.
Talk about each emotion or feeling and the body signals that might be associated with each. How does our body tell us we are feeling angry? What might we feel in our tummy if we are feeling excited? What is one thing we might notice in our body if we were feeling scared?
- Use pairs of stickers to make games to talk about feelings
Using pairs of the same stickers (cut them up and create small packs of ‘cards’), create games like Memory, Snap or Go Fish. These games are great because they are familiar and you can use them again and again. Because the stickers are small, they are great for little hands.
This is also a fantastic way to support children to build a vocabulary around feelings and body signals in an indirect, incidental way.
- Use them as a storytelling tool
Ask children to choose any sticker they feel drawn to. Write a story where the character on the sticker overcomes a challenge.
Once they have finished the story, do a story summary using stickers. Use the stickers to represent what the character felt and did at the beginning, middle and end of the story. You may choose to include strengths stickers here too, so that the children can identify which strengths their character drew on at different points in the story.
- Create a feelings journal
Keeping a feelings journal is a great way to help children build their social and emotional literacy.
At set times of the day, ask children to choose a sticker that represents how they are feeling at that moment to add to their journal. Encourage them to write about the feeling and any associated body signals or triggers.
At the end of each week, revisit the feelings journal, encouraging children to notice any patterns or changes. Invite them to reflect on what helped, what didn’t help, what strengths they drew on to manage their emotions and what they learned about themselves.
This activity helps children build emotional intelligence by encouraging them to be more aware of how emotions change over time and how their body gives clues about how they are feeling (even if they’re not aware of them consciously).
Ask children to think about a problem they are dealing with at the moment. Invite them to choose 2-3 The Bears or Stones…Have Feelings too! stickers that represent how they are feeling about the situation.
Then ask them to choose a sticker that represents how they would feel if the problem was gone or was less prominent. Invite them to reflect on how things will be different when the problem has been resolved. How will it feel in their body? What will other people notice is different about them?
Encourage them to think about some strategies or actions they could take to get from where they are now to where they’d like to be.
If you have strengths stickers, you could also ask them to choose 2-3 Strengths Cards, Strengths to the Max or Strengths Cards for Kids stickers that represents strengths that they have or strengths that they could borrow from someone else—a friend, a family member, a teacher, a coach or a counsellor—that could help them address the problem.
Have you used the The Bears or Stones…Have Feelings too! stickers with children? We’d love to hear your stories!
The Bears stickers (480 individual stickers!)
Stones…have feelings too! stickers (520 individual stickers!)
Strengths stickers (540 individual stickers!)