Using Easter Eggs to Learn About Feelings

easter-eggsI am so excited about the Easter holiday next weekend — getting to color eggs and set up a hunt for my toddler for the first time! One great thing about being a parent is getting to do all the fun stuff we did as kids, but I think this is even better!

Of course, I am always thinking of the holiday and how to incorporate the themes into fun feeling-related activities for the kids. Although my little guy is still too young this year, I hope you find these to be something you can do in your home!

Coloring Your Feelings

For this activity, you need hard-boiled eggs and Easter-egg dye:

  1. Choose 3-5 feelings. I suggest using happy, sad, and mad as your first three. Other feelings to choose from are excited, silly, scared, shy, distracted, frustrated, and anxious.
  2. Have your child choose a dye color to match each feeling.
  3. Dip the egg in the dye and have them talk about that feeling while it is getting colored.
  4. Ask questions such as the following:

Tell me about a time when you felt _______.
What or who sometimes makes you feel ______.
When you feel ______, what does it feel like in your body? Examples are face gets hot, heart races, etc.
When you feel _____, how can you calm yourself down?

This is a fun way to bring up feelings with your kids. Depending on their ages, it may help them learn the names of feelings, recognize that all feelings are normal, and even learn some ways to cope with the negative feelings.

Discovering Inside Feelings

You will need plastic Easter eggs, paper, marker, and scissors.

feelings-squaresIdentifying Feelings Version (for the younger kids)

  1. Cut out squares of paper small enough to fold and fit into a plastic egg.
  2. On each square, draw a face with a feeling: happy, sad, mad, etc.
  3. Fold the papers and place one in each plastic egg.
  4. Mix these eggs in with other plastic eggs filled with the fun stuff.
  5. Include these eggs with the child’s regular hunt or hide these separately — your preference.
  6. When your child goes through their eggs, explain to them that some of the eggs have feelings inside, just like they do. Say, “We are going to discover some of those feelings and talk about them when they are opened.”
  7. If you are doing this with your toddler, say and sign the feeling for them. Be sure to use the expression as you say the feeling (i.e. frown for sad). To learn about feeling signs for babies, visit my post on “Using Signs to Teach Your Toddler About Feelings.”

easter-eggs-feelingsScenario Version (Older preschool)

  1. Cut out squares of paper small enough to fold and fit into a plastic egg.
  2. On each square, write a scenario that reflects a feeling, including happy, sad, mad, frustrated, silly, excited, hyper, and shy. An example of a scenario may be “Madison is running on the playground when she falls down. Another kid laughed at her. How do you think she feels?” Keep in mind that scenarios that ask them to identify the feelings of other people help them to learn empathy. Scenarios that ask them how they feel help them learn how to identify their own feelings. Both are important.
  3. Fold the paper and place one in each plastic egg.
  4. Mix these eggs in with the other plastic eggs that are filled with the fun stuff.
  5. Hide the eggs outside or in your house.
  6. When the child goes through their eggs, read the scenario and see if they can tell you how that person may feel. You may want to have a picture of feelings nearby to give them a choice. Here is a good Feelings Chart I pulled from printablebehaviorcharts.com.
easter-eggs-feelings-02
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!
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Reasons to Get Moving!

I slept really well this weekend and even had more energy today and realized it was because I got to workout this weekend! Many people are familiar with the benefits of exercise on their physical health, but research shows just as many benefits to a person’s mental health as well. These benefits are both immediate (after the first session of physical activity) as well as long term. Exercise is a natural way to feel happier, less stressed, and improve your relationships. Not only is exercise good for your health, but it’s good for your kids too. So take a brief moment to read on, then grab a water, and get your body moving!

Depression: When a person exercises, their body releases endorphins, which are the chemicals in the body that lead to positive feelings. These positive feelings are said to be similar to those felt by morphine, the body’s natural pain killer, and are often referred to as the “runners high.”

Stress: When we are stressed, our body is in a “fight or flight” state and releases cortisol (sometimes called our stress-response hormone). If the body remains in this state over a long period of time, significant physical and psychological health problems arise. Exercise allows the body to return to a relaxed state and lowers those cortisol levels, therefore reducing stress.

Anxiety: Exercise has been shown to decrease anxiety in the same manner as it reduces stress. Regular aerobic exercise, such as biking, running, or swimming, has been found to be the most beneficial for reducing anxiety.

Sleep: Exercise increases the amount of time a person sleeps, and also leads to a more restful, higher quality, of sleep.

Relationships: Since people who exercise enjoy greater psychological health and are less stressed and irritable, their relationships benefit tremendously. This includes relationships with their significant other, children, and even co-workers!

Brain functioning:  Exercise triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, which improves a person’s mental clarity. And since they are more rested and not stuck in a “fight or flight” state, they are more alert and show a greater ability to focus on tasks.

Self-Esteem: Exercise just makes a person feel better about themselves. Their body will look and feel better and a person’s self-perception improves.

Finding time to exercise is one of the most difficult things for me and most people to do, especially as we gain more responsibilities in life. But as you can see, it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our families. Remember what I always say, you are a role model for your children! You want them to take care of themselves as an adult? Then you have to model good self care :) Happy Exercising!

Sand Tray

A sand tray does not have to be purchased from an expensive therapy store. My husband made this sand box for me and the best part is that it’s made with love! After sanding it down really good so as not to cause splinters, I painted the outside a hunter green and inside a blue color. I bought play sand at a local Home Depot. Kids will often use this for pretend play while I am sometimes more directive in the activities with teens.

Body of Emotions

I learned this activity from my colleague, Jennifer Methvin, LPC a couple years ago and have loved it ever since. Thanks Jenney!

In this activity, kids are asked to talk about various emotions. I will often have 4-5 emotions in mind and will allow the child to add emotions to our list if they want. For each emotion, I ask the child two main questions: 1. What does your body feel like when you are happy, sad, etc.? and 2. Tell me about a time when you recently felt this emotion and what was happening. The child can then choose the color they want for that emotion (I take notes for a key later on). The child will then use that color to paint or color where on their body they often feel this emotion.

As you see in the pictures, kids will have many variations. An interesting notation to make is that the first pictuer was done by a child who was struggling with high emotions and extreme expression of those emotions (aggression) and the picture below it with the dots was done by a child who was internalizing their emotions. Notice how the child internalizing the emotions only used small dots to represent their emotions as they are not used to expressing their emotions outwardly.