Story Cubes

I’ve mentioned these before and how much the kids loved them.  I recently found a set with 3 cubes from 3 add on sets for sale at our local toy store and had to get them.  They sparked a renewed interest.

From the Story Cubes website:
As the brain thinks in pictures but communicates in words, having a visual aid to creative problem solving would be advantageous. Using images to trigger stories would help the brain think in new ways.

 

Story telling is beneficial in many ways whether the parent is telling the story or the child. Listening to story telling increases vocabulary, encourages the child to visualize the story in their head, promotes auditory skill and challenges their memory.  For a child telling a story it helps them develop linear progression in thought, creativity, imagination, speaking skills, memory, brain connections and more.  It’s also a great way discuss and work through anything the child is struggling with.  A parent could make up a story on the subject giving words for the emotions and ideas for solutions.  Story telling is used often in Waldorf pedagogy to address issues with children.  The book, “The Whole Brained Child” talks about getting children to tell the story of something that happened to them to help their brain integrate their emotions with the reality.  A child who is scared to relive a traumatic incident can project those events into a story about someone else.

The more stories your child tells and hears the better they will get at doing it.  You’ll also find your own brain being stretched as you come up with stories.  That’s great for preventing dementia later in life.

Here’s some snippets of a story Pumpkin 1 was telling me.

 

Our Peace Corner

A Peace Corner is a quiet place a child can go when they’re feeling out of control or overwhelmed or just want to cultivate peace.  A Peace Corner is not a time out.  It’s a place for a child to go on their own accord so as to regain some composure or calm.  Creating and teaching a child how to use the Peace Corner is part of fostering emotional intelligence.

I’ve wanted a Peace Corner for a while after seeing a lovely one here.  However, space is limited in our home and I couldn’t figure out where to put it.  We’ve eventually needed more shelving though, so that caused some rearranging and a space opened up.  I moved the kitchen set from this corner.  I put the fridge in Pumpkin 1’s room as a cupboard.  The kids almost never played with the fridge.  IMG_0665

After a lot of thought and planning in my head and a little rearranging we now have this:

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It’s a combined Reading/Peace corner.  There’s a nice mat, some cushions and pillows and a blanket to make it cozy.  There’s books on the shelf and I (I mean my husband) made a rain gutter shelf.  I have a lot of gutter left and may add another one under it.  However, note to others thinking of trying it, it’s not exactly cheap depending on your set up.  The gutter is, but the end caps are $5 each.  You need the end caps to keep the gutter from bowing forward.  It’s not hard to put up, cut, glue the caps on, screw it into the wall (making sure at least one screw is in a stud, and if you have drywall you’ll need to use drywall studs).  I really like the way it looks though and that I can put the books forward facing.  I’m not sure yet though if I should give up leaning space for another shelf or not.  A shelf above that one would be too high.

Above the peace corner I made this simple mobile.  I love watching the birds glide around, they go pretty nicely when the furnace turns on.  It’s very relaxing.  You can see my post about it here.

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This is the Peace shelf.

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These are the items currently on the shelf.  We have this book about feelings, with simple text for young children.  A knobby ball for sensory stimulation and massage.  A massage roller.  An Eye Spy bag.  DT’s Rainfall Rattle for auditory and visual relaxation.  A tension ball we made from balloons and flour and DT’s Tricky Fingers to help focus.

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We also made these water and oil bottles for a relaxing visual.

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Then we have a Kimochi set.  The bucket is full of different emotions that can be placed in the Kitty’s tummy and used to discuss and express feelings.  If I didn’t already have this I would love to have the Express It! Buddy from Discovery Toys.

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There are still a few things I want to add.  I’d love to have a Finger Labyrinth.  I can print off a paper one for now, but would like a wood one.

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And I really want a Buddha Board.  Right now I’m afraid Pumpkin 2 might ruin it so maybe when he’s a little older.

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There are many different things you can use in your Peace Corner.  Look for items that are calming, relaxing and encourage focus.  Also items that give simple sensory feedback are great.  As well you want ways for a child to discuss, express and learn about their emotions.  Depending on your child you could even have a plant or a fish, a rock garden, a mini water fountain, a terrarium (I might try that), there’s so many possibilities.  If your child is old enough get them to help you in the planning and setting up the Peace Corner.  Teach your child how to cultivate a sense of peace when upset.  You can do this by having them sit with your there and showing them how to use the items.  Talk about how they make you feel inside.  Gently encourage or ask your child when they’re feeling upset if they want to use the Peace Corner, never force them to or make them.  It has to be their decision.  The Peace Corner is not a time out.  Model it to by using the Peace Corner yourself or creating your own.  You don’t need a lot of space or fancy objects.  You can probably fine many items to use around your house.  Starting young will reap many benefits in the long run.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotions are a huge part of parenting children.  Children are very emotional and are not yet capable of handling and dealing with their emotions.  One of the most important jobs we will do as parents is to give them the skills needed to manage and understand their emotions and the emotions of others.  “Emotional Intelligence is much more critical to your child’s future than intellectual intelligence.”

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” –Daniel Goleman

Pumpkin 1 is starting to become aware of different emotions and give names to them.  She often comes to me saying, “I so upset Mommy, I so upset”.  Or when I scold her asks, “Mommy mad?”  We already have cards with photos of children showing different emotions on them but Pumpkin 1’s vocabulary and understanding hasn’t developed to the place where we can do a lot with them.  I’ve been looking for something for toddlers, a way for her to express her own emotions.  I liked the idea of Kimochis but I’m not willing to spend the money on them, plus she already has a ton of stuffed toys.  So I decided to make something myself.  I love our watercolour pencil crayons, so I used those and made up these emotion faces

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I had a lot of fun making them and trying to portray an emotion with only a few facial features.  I used different shapes and colours to help differentiate as well.  I’m really happy with how they turned out.  I laminated them and put a piece of velcro on the back.  I made a page that says, “I Feel” on the top and the child can choose an emotion and attach it to the page.  Here is our “Feelings Corner” in our playroom.  The “shelves” are containers for organizing drawers that I got at Canadian Tire and attached with Command Removable Adhesive Strips.  I had to put them a little high to be out of the reach of my 10 month old pulling on them.

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The children were really intrigued by the emotion cards and right away wanted to pick one out.  We so far have: happy, sad, frustrated, hurt, mad, grumpy, hungry, tired, excited, disappointed, jealous, silly, scared and shy.

Some other work with emotions I’m planing, is to lay out the photo cards, name an emotion and have the children pick out the child they think is feeling that.  

Another great emotional activity I’ve come across is at Study at Home Mom.  She made sensory bins for emotions.  (click photo for link).

 

All this emotional work has made me very happy.