One thing I love about this page in “Why Is Skin Color Different?”, is it makes it inclusive for everyone who doesn’t have a “traditional” family tree.
The child is the “family star”, and the houses go around the edges, to make up the different “houses” in the child’s life. The nuclear family, extended family, or even friends can be put in the houses — anyone important to the child, plus meaningful traditions (e.g., totem pole to represent heritage, Christmas tree for a tradition).
Once it is filled out, it can be cut out and folded into a box lid! A second blank copy can be cut and folded to make the bottom of the box. It becomes a small box to put things important to the child. The blank pattern that can be photocopied is in “Why is Skin Color Different?”
ACTIVITIES & WORKSHEETS
If you’re looking for activities and worksheets for a child or classroom, I would definitely recommend “The Anti-Bullying Project.” 75 pages of activities and worksheets are included in addition to the story.
Worksheets focus on the following subjects: 1) emotions & interactions, 2) self-awareness, 3) problem-solving, and 4) role models. Permission is given to photocopy worksheets for educational use.
Although the story at the beginning of the book was originally targeted at ages 5-8, the activities and worksheets have been found very effective for ages 6-12 (however, younger children can engage in discussion instead of doing the written work).
The activities go from A-Z, with worksheets matched by letter in the back of the book. Most activities and worksheets are 1-2 pages each, and can be adapted to different age groups. For younger children, the pages requiring writing can be done in a discussion group.
For example, for the G – Great Leaders section, a story about a leader could be read by the teacher (one story is included in the activities section, and other examples of possible names of leaders are given in the book), and the three questions on the worksheet can be discussed. For older children, they can answer the three questions on the page, and then put their answers in paragraph form.
The book is 140 pages, and I wrote it with the perspective that bullying doesn’t just affect one child, but it affects the entire class. There is the one doing the bullying, the one being bullied, and the bystanders who may or may not try to intervene. The activities are geared at creating a more cooperative social environment overall, in contrast to a competitive social environment.
Sometimes I include “Where I Feel It” pages in my books, that show what parts of the body are affected while experiencing a specific emotion. This is usually when addressing psychosomatic symptoms that have been experienced by a character, in order to explain how they affect the body.
Just understanding how feelings can affect the body can alleviate anxiety in itself. For example, a child feels their heart pumping and has a tight chest. Their anxiety suddenly increases because they think they’re having a “heart attack”. Understanding how anxiety affects the body can prevent that snowballing effect from occurring.
The two pages opposite are taken from “What Is Foster Care”, but a similar set of pages on anxiety is in “School Day Worries” with a different character. The books go on to explain how a bit of anxiety is good can help us keep focused when doing a test or crossing a street. However, too much anxiety is like a false alarm going off to alert us of danger that isn’t really there.
Another book that addresses psychosomatic symptoms during grief and loss is “Where Is My Gigi?” Because the book is for younger children (ages 3-5), it doesn’t go into the same amount of detail as the books for older children do. Instead it uses visualization to deal with the effects of grief and loss.
Anxiety isn’t the only emotion addressed in the books. In “The Anti-Bullying Project,” anger is discussed and “projecting” anger onto another person is explained. In “Where Is My Gigi” and “School Day Worries”, there is also a page spread that shows small pictures like the one on anxiety, but with eight different emotions.
One of my next projects is to put together a more comprehensive collection of these emotions and how they affect children in a psychosomatic sense.
Younger children (ages 3-5) often become alarmed when they experience difficult emotions, especially when they affect them physically. The visualization of having Gigi catching all the butterflies when the child experiences a “fluttery tummy” pairs this uncomfortable physical feeling with something positive, so it doesn’t become paralyzing. Feeling emotions in our body like this is a natural part of what we experience in life, but alarm and anxiety over the physical symptoms themselves just amplifies any difficult feelings.
The book, “Where Is My Gigi: Losing Someone You Love”, aims at lessening the anxiety young children experience due to physical symptoms that occur with difficult emotions. It also aims at finding coping strategies to help deal with those feelings.
At the end of the book, there is a problem-solving exercise that doesn’t require verbalization, but can be done just by pointing at a picture on the page. The “When I feel ____, I can try ____” page helps younger children strategize what they can do when they face situations that cause difficult feelings. (The blanks are the placeholders for where they point to the pictures).
For example, “When I feel sad, I can try drawing” is one possibility out of the different pictures shown. (Picture of a little girl crying + Picture of a little girl drawing). Another one would be, “When I feel sad, I can try hugging.” (Picture of a little girl crying + Picture of a little girl hugging).
The question, “How many ideas can you try?” is meant to encourage children to try different strategies to deal with their emotions until they find something that works for them. It is also meant to demonstrate that there are many different ways to deal with difficult emotions, not just one way.
At times in my books, I include some back-story so the readers can understand what the characters are thinking when they act certain ways. One of the characters I do this with is Aidan. Aidan is the main character in the first book of my main series. The book is called “I Kicked the Ball in Gym Class” and is a story told from his point of view.
I wrote the book, “I Kicked the Ball in Gym Class,” after receiving a request from another Children’s Therapist who was in need of a book that had a character who was average, not great at sports, not great at school, and not great at fitting in. From that one book grew an entire classroom of characters which are used in my other books.
In “School Day Worries”, three students share individual stories about how anxiety affects them, and the tools they use to deal with it. Aidan, Sophia, and Hailey are the characters who tell their personal stories about anxiety in this book.
For example, Aidan talks about his anxiety about being bullied and his nervousness about speaking in class, due to his speech difficulties. He uses a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) exercise to help change his feelings about himself.
“Just because I feel like a monkey, doesn’t mean I am a monkey,” is the thought-changing logic. “Just because I feel like a failure, doesn’t mean I am a failure,” is the result of applying the logic to Aidan’s situation.
This exercise builds on the third “Discovery” and worksheet in the book, “I Kicked the Ball in Gym Class.” The Discovery is, “Just because someone believes something, doesn’t mean it’s true.” The thought-changing logic is applied to examples such as, “Just because someone says I’m not smart, doesn’t mean I’m not smart.”
Sophia explains the physical manifestations of anxiety, and uses calming exercises which are described in the book. Hailey introduces CBT worksheets, that focus on changing thoughts to change feelings.
Children are finding it interesting to learn more about more about the characters in this way. The relatability is the focus of these stories. The important thing is they don’t feel alone if they struggle in their own lives with a challenge one of the characters have.