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As a school psychologist and mom to three little people, I think it is extremely important for children to learn to identify, understand, communicate, and manage their emotions. These are important life skills! When Disney’s Inside Out was released last August, I wanted so badly to see it, but with sensitive children I thought it would be better to wait until it was released on DVD to see it in the comfort of our home.
And that’s why I was so excited last week when I heard that Inside Out had been released on Blu-Ray and DVD. As soon as I heard, I made a bee-line to Walmart’s movie section to grab our very own copy, and you should too!
Next, we headed over to Walmart’s Disney aisle for some super-fun Inside Out figures.
Teaching Children About Emotions Through Play
As I said, I was excited about Disney’s Inside Out back in August. I had watched the trailer, read the reviews, talked to friends and educators. I knew that Inside Out was going to be good. This was one movie that I was just as excited to watch as my children, if not more so. Truth be told, I have been planning -for months!- to use Inside Out as a unit study of sorts, as a means to teach my children about emotions.
Using Family Movie Night as a Teachable Moment
I love to use family movie nights as a part of our homeschool routine. When working on a unit study, I typically save the movie for the end of the study, as a way to tie together all that we’ve learned. However, with Inside Out, I elected to show the movie first. Why? Because Inside Out teaches children important concepts including:
- Feelings identification
- Understanding of the brain
- The link between memories and emotions
- The concept of locus of control
- How to manage emotions
- The importance of expressing emotions in appropriate ways
- The importance of validating the emotions of others
My children wanted to watch Inside Out as soon as it came through our door and, in all honesty, so did I. I had planned to watch it the following day, which was Veteran’s Day, but we opted to watch it immediately.
Here are some tips for using movies as teachable moments:
- Talk about the movie before you begin.
- Look at the movie cover and make predictions
- Keep the remote handy at all times
- If a child has a question, pause the movie and take time to answer
- If children have difficulty understanding part of the film, watch it again!
- When the movie is over, talk about it!
The next morning was Veteran’s Day, it was pouring, and the kids had no school. Together, we decided to watch Inside Out a second time. I had no qualms watching Inside Out back-to-back because I know that children learn through repetition and I knew that they would learn more from the movie during their second viewing.
Helping Children Work Out Feelings Through Play
Children learn to navigate their worlds through play– it’s the language of childhood! Through play, children develop important early communication, problem-solving, and social skills, including how to talk to others, identify and express emotions, and early conflict resolution. When I was working as a school psychologist, long before I was a mom, I always had a bag of tricks with me when I met with a young child. My bag of tricks varied by the child, but it typically included puppets, art materials, a puzzle or game, and: toy figures.
When children get lost in play, they work out problems. Children are far more likely to approach those BIG emotions while they are engaged in play than they are if you were to ask them to talk about heavy stuff point-blank.
Knowing this, I was not surprised to see my children using the Inside Out figures to replay some of the movie’s most intense scenes. When I saw this, I smiled knowing that they were processing important information. I let the play carry on, but at dinner I brought up the topic of Inside Out and, sure enough, they talked about those scenes with renewed understanding!
Using Games to Take the Learning One Step Further
If you’ve been following this site for any length of time, you’re already aware that we love to use games as part of our homeschool curriculum. For the past few months, my children have been on a DIY game kick and so I thought it would be a great idea to brainstorm some fantastic Inside Out games!
Children learn so much when they create their own games because game-making involves:
- Fine Motor Skills
- Social Skills
- Family memories
Today, I am going to teach you how to make our new favorite game: Bing Bong Boogie!
Bing Bong Boogie was oodles of fun to make and is, without a doubt, my children’s best collaboration to date. Bing Bong Boogie is musical chairs meets Hullabaloo meets kitchen dancing! And, best of all, Bing Bong Boogie works on your children’s social-emotional skills.
Bing Bong Boogie will help your child to:
- Verbally name emotions
- Express emotions
- Identify emotions in self and others
And, as an added bonus, Bing Bong Boogie is a perfect way to wear kids out when the weather isn’t cooperating!
How to Make Bing Bong Boogie:
Cardstock in yellow, red, purple, green, and blue
Crayons and markers
Laminating sheets and laminator
A box to contain the game
- For this game, your children will be learning about joy, anger, sadness, fear, and disgust- all of their favorite characters from the movie Inside Out! The first step is to draw either the characters, as you see below, or the emotions. We love to draw movie characters but you truly need only simple faces representing the emotions.
- Make four photocopies of each emotion for a total of five per emotion.
- Ask your children to color in the emotions.
- While they are busy being artsy, talk with them! This is a perfect time to discuss emotions. Ask them if they can identify other names for each emotion. For example, you may come up with happy, merry, and jolly when discussing joy.
- When the children have finished coloring, cut out each face and paste it onto the appropriately colored cardstock (yellow for joy, green for disgust, purple for fear, blue for sadness, and red for anger).
- Add those synonyms that your children came up with- this will not only help their emotional intelligence, but also their early literacy!
- Cut the paper into circles.
- Laminate for durability.
- Cut out the shapes.
- Add a little hot glue to the back of each emotion circle so as to prevent slipping and sliding (these emotions will be placed on your floor and danced upon during play and we want to prevent injuries!).
- Finally, decorate the box!
- You’re ready to play!!
How to Play Bing Bong Boogie:
The rules for playing Bing Bong Boogie are simple, but the game is fun-filled! Simply lay the emotions cards on the floor in random order. Be sure to leave plenty of space because there is dancing involved. Turn on some music and dance from circle to circle. When the music stops, freeze on that circle. Players then take turns doing one of the following (depending upon age and understanding):
- Identify the emotion on the card.
- Share other names for that emotion.
- Make an expression that fits the emotion on your card like you see in this video clip:
- Share a moment in the movie where a character felt that emotion like you see in this video clip:
- Share a moment in a story or movie where a person felt that emotion.
- Share a hypothetical situation where you, or someone else, may experience that emotion like you see here:
- Share a time in your life that you felt that emotion.
- Share an unhealthy way to manage that emotion.
- Share a healthy way to manage that emotion.
Once every player has had a turn, turn that music back on and play continues. As players develop a deeper understanding of the game you can add more elements from the list above or invent your own.
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
Now, it’s your turn
Have you picked up your copy of Inside Out at Walmart? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and any activities you’ve created to go along with it! Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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