I’ve had a really difficult time with my sweet Cora lately, and I’m not sure how much longer we can chalk her hot-headedness up to a bad case of the three’s. Cora’s quick temper and occasional wicked tantrum may be due to her less-structured schedule as compared to Maddy and Owen when they were her age (it’s natural for the youngest to be schlepped here, there, and everywhere, right?), but I’m tired of making excuses.
Especially with our recent playground ‘bully’ and as the holiday crazies approach, I’ve been on the hunt for a sneaky way of playing with emotions–showing emotions, talking about emotions, and changing emotions. For Cora, specifically, but I thought that Owen could use some more talk about how our behavior effects others as well.
I ran across this idea a few weeks ago, and with a little tweaking and making it my own, I hit the jackpot if I do say so myself: Family Paper Roll Dolls.
- Family Paper Roll Dolls: Two of my sisters and husband will have me for this one, I’m sure. When I begged them to let me take their pictures, responding to emotions I called out, they had no idea their faces would be donning empty toilet paper rolls several days later. But it’s for such a good cause, I promise! So thank you. And how funny are these?
I took pictures of Maddy, Owen, Cora, my husband, Aunt Mary, Aunt Katie, Brady (yes, Brady!), and myself showing exaggerated emotions. I wanted everyone to show me faces–and bodies–demonstrating happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, and confusion.
Maddy stood on her head for a super-silly one, and the angry one of my husband is ANGRY. Brady even smiled for his happy one.
our family, ready to become paper roll dolls
Then I printed out their pictures, cut them out, and taped them to empty toilet paper rolls. We had been collecting the rolls for ages–and who knows why?–but we had enough for 3-4 dolls for every person, which is exactly what I wanted. I taped the cut-outs to the rolls because glue would have made the paper bleed.
And as the family paper roll dolls were created, Cora helped me line them up on the table.
It was crazy to see our family members showing so many different emotions, all on one tabletop.
My goal for this activity, just a short bit of time after Cora and I had lunch and before her rest time, was to use the family dolls to show how we influence each other’s emotions. I wanted her to see how the words we use and the decisions we make can make another person feel happy or sad in a matter of seconds and that we can affect each other in both positive–and negative–ways.
So Cora instantly called out that she was going to be Maddy, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Katie (sorry, Aunt Jenny, we didn’t have your photo session yet!), and I said I wanted to be Owen.
We took our dolls–the happy ones–and I brought the basket of other dolls along.
Cora said she wanted me to make a sign that said “Our Ice-cream Stand” so that her dolls could work there and my doll could buy ice-cream. It was the perfect set-up.
I had my Owen doll ask to buy ice-cream, and the first time he asked politely, requested a flavor I knew they’d have, and he walked away happily.
The next time, my mean-faced Owen doll walked up, demanded the biggest dirt-flavored ice-cream cone they had, and Maddy doll said they didn’t have the flavor he wanted.
Aunt Mary paper roll doll, taking a break from work.
I changed the Owen doll to sad-faced Owen, and in a sad-dog whiny voice he cried that he didn’t know what to do.
I talked to the doll (yes, I’m bordering on crazy, I know) and said, Owen, maybe if you ask Maddy fora regular ice-cream flavor in a nicer, more polite way, she’ll be able to help you.
Sad-faced Owen doll went back to the store, asked muuuch more politely, and muuuch more kindly for an ice-cream, and Maddy doll gave him one. He magically switched (poof!) into the happy Owen doll and ate his ice-cream.
Aunt Mary heads back to work at the Ice-Cream Stand.
We played out scenes like this one for about fifteen or twenty minutes–not too long. I noticed that Cora’s own littleface changed when I pulled out an angry-faced doll or sad-faced doll in response to something another doll said, and I wonder if the in-your-face blatant switch of emotions helped her to see more clearly how words and actions affect others.
We laughed a lot and we talked a lot. Here’s to hoping that something clicked!
The dolls are still in their basket, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora have played randomly with them a bit over the last few days, though nothing quite with the focus I intended–and that’s fine. I’ll pull them out again one day this week with Owen and Cora while they’re home from school. We’ll see how it goes. . .
Will they last forever? Nope.
Can they be used to teach storytelling, role-playing, questioning, and a million other things? Yes, yes, and YES!
Are they environmentally friendly? Oh yeeeeah. Nothing beats an inexpensive, recycled something made into a toy.
Are they totally silly and ridiculous? Absolutely. I give full credit for this silliness to my pal, Allie, of No Time for Flashcards, who made them a few weeks ago and had her son color them. They made me laugh so hard and got my wheels a turnin’. Thanks, Allie!
Want a few more ideas for teaching and parenting?
Check out a few other posts that may help you develop strong and healthy habits for your family:
- wait time
- my day, your day
- frozen peas
- kids who rock the kitchen
- kids who rock the laundry
- rest time
- gem jars
- arm circles
- noticing kids
- homework routine
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