Arty’s been spending more and more time playing with other kids lately. Between kinder, play dates, and generally hanging out with our friends’ kids, he’s had a playmate or two almost every day in recent months.
This has been great, but it’s meant that we’ve needed to respond to the increased pressure this has put on his developing social skills.
He’s learning to negotiate sharing, cooperative play, conflict, and all kinds of complicated stuff, and that has resulted in some periods of… err… shall we say “heightened emotion”.
We’re doing our best to talk him through this, and help him navigate his changing social landscape as best we can. It’s not always easy.
Part of helping him with this is giving him the tools to talk about his feelings and experiences. We want him to have a really good emotional vocabulary, and an ability to use it effectively.
There are all kinds of way to do this. Through modelling it in our own behaviour, reading stories, watching and discussing TV shows (yes, screens do have a role to play here!), and through arts and crafts.
This activity is a good one for talking about emotions, and how we express them with our faces.
Foraged faces (a play dough activity)
What you’ll need:
- Some play dough (I’ve never found a better recipe than this one, to which I added some pink food colouring for this activity).
- A range of foraged items such as seeds, pebbles, twigs, flowers, leaves etc. If they’re interested, try to include your child in the process of collecting these objects.
What to do:
- Give your child a wad of play dough, then show them how to roll it into a ball, and flatten it into a roundish play dough pancake.
- Invite your child to use the foraged objects to construct a face in the dough.
- As you play discuss the different kind of faces you’re making, and the kinds of emotions they are expressing. For example, Arty specifically asked to make a sad face, so I asked him what a sad face looked like, and he showed me by turning down the corners of his mouth – we then tried to replicate this in the play dough.
- Rearrange and reuse the different bits and pieces to your hearts’ content. You’ll be surprised at the range of ideas you come up with once you get going!
This activity is also great for exploring the different shapes, colours, smells, and textures of objects in the natural world. It also develops imagination, where leaves become mouths, flowers hats, and seed pods noses. It’s simple, but it’s got layers.