Friday 15 February 2019

Discussing feelings with children using How Monty Found His Magic

A book for anyone who’s ever lacked confidence or been afraid of failing at something new.
Monty is a marvellous magician, but why won’t he show his tricks to other people? Zephyr and Snuffles, Monty's best friends, want everyone to see just how amazing he is and keep reminding him that – together – they can do anything! They are a magical trio!

We are delighted to welcome Lerryn Korda to Picture Book Party to discuss 
How Monty Found His Magic

I wrote How Monty Found his Magic partly as a response to child mental health issues. Having suffered from anxiety all my life, I am now aware of the need to identify my feelings and where they are in my body. I wish I had understood this as a child. This inner tracking allows a pause before I react. It’s also a good time to get the support of friends and family like Monty, who has the support of Zephyr and Snuffles.

In my own life I try not to judge emotions that arise but to acknowledge them. Feelings come and go and sometimes we can’t make them better. However, just by talking them through they often can lose their power.

I asked Special Educational Needs Coordinator Rachael Taylor, who has a wealth of experience with child mental health, how she might use How Monty Found his Magic to start a conversation and an activity about feelings.

Resources: large piece of paper, thick black pen, colouring pens, paints, glue, dried beans, pasta, rice, feathers, cotton wool  etc.

Read the page which describes Monty’s whizzing tummy. Ask your child to look at the picture of Monty. Describe, or ask the child to describe, what they can see. How does Monty look? Where is he looking? What are his hands doing? The way he’s standing? Now ask about his feelings. Can you see the butterflies in his tummy? Or his heart thumping? No, this is happening all inside Monty’s body. Nobody can tell this is how he is feeling.  Ask the child if s/he ever feels like Monty. What do their butterflies feel like? Are they butterflies at all? Perhaps they’re more like worms slithering through the grass? Be curious and open to whatever your child describes.

Tell your child you’re going to draw around each other to make life-size pictures of each other, and then draw, paint or collage all the different sensations which can happen inside their bodies when different feelings arise.

Once you have your outlines, start to discuss the different sensations which happen when you’re feeling nervous like Monty. Chat to your child about the colour and texture you might choose to represent the sensation, e.g. Monty describes the feeling like butterflies, which is a common way to describe the sensation. Is that the same for your child? If so, what colour are they? Do they feel like feathers? Or bits of cotton wool? Draw or stick on whatever the child chooses for each sensation. Move around the body, discussing any sensation that might arise.

Open the conversation up to discuss other emotions. What about when we start to feel angry? Repeat the above, asking questions about skin? Face? Palms of hands? Heart? Chest? Back of neck? All the time accepting what your child says and describes. Be curious.

What about happiness? Sadness? Excitement? etc. Add word cards or pictures of different emotions.

Hang your pictures where your child can add to theirs when s/he notices any new sensations.