Thanks to Nimbus Publishing who sponsored this post so that we can bring local books to local kids. We only partner with businesses that we believe bring value and enjoyment to Halifax families. If you'd like to talk about working together, please contact us. As always, all opinions are our own.
Sheree Fitch does something magical with words. My children were first introduced to her through Mabel Murple and I've been delighted to "discover" so many more of her treasures since then. EveryBody's Different on EveryBody Street is one of those treasures. On the surface it's fun to read (as all of her books are!) and the illustrations from Emma FitzGerald are perfection . . . but underneath simmers a message that needs to be shared.
This book was re-released by Nimbus Publishing this month and is our Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club pick. It's never too early to start talking about mental health with children and a natural way to begin is to pair this book with an activity where you create a Feelings Basket.
EveryBody's Different Feelings Basket
Children as young as toddler age are able to start understanding feelings. They may not be able to fully explain or express what they're feeling, but creating an EveryBody's Different Feelings Basket with children (of any age) is a great tool to help your child start working on self-identifying their moods and learning how to manage and express these feelings in a safe and healthy way.
Begin by reading the book with your child and talking about emotions and feelings. Point out different images of characters in the book and discuss how they might be feeling and what facial or body cues gave them hints as to their emotion.
Discuss how everybody has different feelings at different times. One person may be happy while another is sad; someone may feel angry while another person feels peaceful. It's okay to have different feelings than those around you.
Pick out a basket or box to use as the home base for this kit. It can be a pretty basket you get especially for this purpose, or an old box that you decorate for the job. The goal of the basket is twofold: first, it can be used daily at various intervals as a check-in about how your child (and you - it's great for grown-ups to share too) is feeling and how they choose to manage those feelings; and, secondly, it can be used when a child is feeling out of control or angry as a safe space to go to calm down. Because of this, choose the items in the box wisely based on your child's age so that everything is safe and age-appropriate.
Some ideas of items to go in the basket:
A Coping Strategy Cube to choose how to go forward if the feelings are overwhelming or negative. We made ours by wrapping up an old box that had a toy in it with butcher paper and then talked about ways to manage big feelings. Some of our ideas were to read a book, take five deep breaths, cuddle a soft toy or blanket, blow on a pinwheel, and colour or draw a picture.. Many of these ideas inspired what supplies we ended up putting in the basket.
A Feelings Chart to identify the current emotion. We found ours on a free printables chart site here.
Soft, cuddly toys, pillows and blankets (heavy, weighted blankets have been shown to help in calming anxiety).
Play dough (or stress balls) for manipulating with their hands which has been shown to help people feel calm.
Sparkle/Calm Down Jar (instructions below).
Age/space appropriate breathing exercise tools: bubbles, pinwheels, balloons to blow up. Telling children to "take a deep breath" is not necessarily something they understand how to do properly, these activities encourage "deep breaths," plus it's fun and usually results in some smiles!
A selection of books for reading. Of course we have EveryBody's Different on EveryBody Street in ours as the rhythmic rhymes are soothing and fun to listen to and the story invites conversation about feelings, but any of your child's favourite books can be added here.
There's no right or wrong way to make one of these baskets and you'll likely find once you start working on it, and your children understand what it's for, they'll start adding items of their own that they think should be in there. Find a little corner of the house and make it a cozy safe spot that they can retreat to whenever they "need a quiet moment" - that's what we say at our house as "calm down" usually triggers most people to do exactly the opposite!
How to Make a Sparkle Jar (aka a Calm Down Jar)
There are loads of recipes to make these jars online. I made a few and never got it exactly right but it's fun to experiment and play around with the different recipes. The kids loved all the ones we made and they resulted in their goal, getting the child to sit quietly and gaze at the sparkles as they gently floated around the bottle.
Clear plastic bottle (no glass as it's shaken vigorously, often by a child feeling upset!). Many sites recommend VOSS water bottles but we used a Gatorade one and that worked well and was easy for them to hold with the ridges on it
Elmer's Glitter Glue
Optional: other things to put in such as pony or perler beads, legos, large glitter, food colouring. Some places also suggest a bit of clear SoftSoap if the glue is too thick.
It's also suggested to use a hot glue gun on a very low setting (or krazy glue) to glue to cap on when you're satisfied with the Sparkle Jar.
Add about half a bottle of glitter glue to the clear, plastic bottle. You may need a little more or less depending on the size of your bottle, it controls how fast the glitter moves around in the bottle so you can adjust as needed as you go. If you put in too much glue, a bit of liquid soap is supposed to make the glitter move a little faster.
Now fill almost all of the way with warm tap water but leave space for potential adjustments. Add glitter (and any other objects such as beads) generously, screw the cap on, and then shake it up.
Check it out to see if you need more glue, soap or glitter and add as needed. You can also add food colouring if you want to tweak the colour. You only need a bit though. We put too much in the first time however the effect made it look like the night sky which was quite cool.
Now add the Sparkle Jar to your Feelings Basket and enjoy!
WIN THIS BOOK!
If you haven't read our other book club posts yet, be sure to check out more book extension posts by clicking here.
You can buy this book directly from Nimbus Publishing, or from one of the many local and national booksellers.
We’ve teamed up with Nimbus Publishing to give away a copy of this book. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below and ***IMPORTANT*** make sure you come back to the Rafflecopter widget and check off each task you complete in order for it to be counted as an entry.
When the contest closes, one random winner will be drawn. S/he will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond; if there's no reply by then, we will draw for a new winner. Good luck!
*Winners must be age of majority in their home province/state and be residents of Canada or the United States; excluding Quebec.