Handy Flashcard tips!
I often get asked how the Alphabet of Emotions came about so thought I’d share the thoughts behind it and also a few of the ways in which we’ve come to love using the flashcards (scroll to the bottom if you’re looking for the tips!)
The idea for my A to Z of Emotions was hatched in the Summer of 2017 while I was hot, heavily pregnant with number three and battling the usual after school antics in the frazzled weeks leading up to the summer holidays. Monosyllabic encounters following the ‘what did you do at school/nursery today’ question prompted me to think about different ways to help encourage them to talk about and remember their day. I was already itching to start painting again (reclaiming some time to do something I once loved) so it seemed a perfect opportunity to try and create something that could help us out.
My starting point was to focus on the positive. I wanted to find words and emotions to inspire and motivate, to get her thinking about how she was feeling in the context of her day or week. In shifting the focus from the actual content of her day to thinking about how she might have been feeling - brave or patient for example -opened up a whole different conversation. I learned more about her school life in those weeks than I had all year! Everyday snippets of school life that otherwise might have passed me by. And it became a bit of a game. Fun even!
The A to Z was finished up in the weeks running up to the new arrival. Bedtime with three I’ve found frenzied (often feral) and I’m really aware of how reliant I am on my eldest to help out, with my attention all consumed by the younger ones. That window of feeding, bathing, stories and bed is so full on I don’t think I can string more than 4 words together let alone have a meaningful conversation. So to have something special to do, just the two of us, once the others were down became really important.
We started taking a letter a night and thinking and talking about what it meant. It opened up all sorts of conversations about her day, her friends, her likes and dislikes. All kinds of things. With my energy and imagination reaching an all day low at that time, having an instant prompt for our chats was gold. It was then that we came up with the idea of turning the A to Z print into flash cards. Something to shuffle and handle seemed like a really good idea. It also gave me the space to add a handy definition of each word (I definitely needed this) and a couple of fun facts about the animals!
Now we’ve got the cards they all love getting involved - my 2 year old loves pointing out the animals and colours, they’ve been great for helping my 4 year old begin to learn his ABC and everyone loves the animal facts! I’m also finally getting around to paying some attention to their bedroom walls and I have a set pegged up for decoration. They’re also an often timely reminder to keep myself in check - be patient, listen and so on – things that all too easily fly by the wayside at that time of day (and no it doesn’t always work).
I’ve been lucky enough to have some lovely feedback about the prints and flashcards and to hear how people have been using them so far, so I thought I’d pull together a list to share some ideas. Here’s what I have so far!
- Take a letter and talk about a time that day/week (ever!) that they’ve felt that way
- Asking what the word means to them – how they interpret it
- Take it to the whiteboard! My eldest loves turning into teacher and creating spidergrams for the emotions
- Ask if they know someone who is adventurous, brave and why they think so
- Thinking about how they could or might like to be more helpful, fearless
- Making it a two-way thing – they love hearing how I might be anxious about doing something and battling to be more fearless (no shortage of examples there!)
- Learning to recognise letters and order of the alphabet
- Recognising and naming animals
- Guessing and learning animal fun facts
- Drawing practice – copying and colouring in the animals
- Making up stories with the animal characters and/or the emotions (how did the bear become brave?)
- Thinking about how we can be more adventurous, helpful, resilient
- Hanging the flash cards up in the bedroom/playroom as a great way to add some colour and learning
If you have any more to add I’d love to hear them!