Veronika’s latest from Panda Crate was all about those big toddler emotions trapped inside little bodies. I loved that this was the toddler version of the Feelings Crate Travis did with the Koala line over three years ago. The package includes great ways to get your toddler talking about those big feelings… hopefully before the next tantrum hits!
One: Huggable Poppy
Veronika has a new best friend!
She was smitten the moment I showed her the first item in the crate, a stuffed version of the line’s mascot panda. Poppy comes with her very own lovey blanket, so it was like a nesting doll equivalent of a hug. Veronika hugged Poppy, and Poppy hugged her lovey. Everyone gets comfort!
Of course little ones learn empathy and caring skills through stuffed animals, and we emphasized that by helping tuck Poppy under her blanket, or talking about what Poppy was feeling.
She’s fantastic for taking along on car rides, too!
Two: Mood Puzzles
Veronika was equally smitten with the next item in the crate, two wooden blocks that are printed with 6 emotions on baby faces, in the eyes and lips. Mix and match to talk about what the baby is feeling!
She could stack them up like regular blocks of course, which is always great for fine motor development.
But even better was lying them on the ground. We talked through the emotions, naming each one and a scenario in which she has felt it. It was fun to ask her to copy the babies, too. Could she stick out her tongue like playful baby? Yes!
I also did the reverse; if we mixed up the cubes, could she find me a frown? “Frown” was a new vocabulary word, though we’ve talked plenty about smiles. In fact, she seemed particularly drawn to the frowning or sad images, which makes sense since these emotions can be scary for a toddler.
Three: Emotion Stacker
The next toy continued the theme of babies and expressions. For fine motor skills, it’s a stacking frame almost like the game Connect 4, and Veronika quickly mastered the skill of slotting the circles inside.
As she popped in each one, I named the emotion.
We then lined up the babies in order from happiest to saddest.
Panda also suggests using this toy for a color match, but it wasn’t intuitive for Veronika since there were three shades of blue, but no orange, green, etc. For a better color toy, I would have preferred rainbow colors.
Four: Emotions Place Mat
The fourth item was a food-grade silicone place mat with the outline of panda’s face but no emotions. We used food to add features! An apple wedge could be a smile, and we added blushing red tomato cheeks.
Then we lined up o-shaped cereal, first in a smile, and then in a frown.
Veronika giggled when I said she was eating the panda’s mouth! So the mat is not only practical (we’ll keep using this at meal time!), but also fun for food play and for more serious emotional learning.
I also placed the mat against the window so I could trace panda’s face onto paper. Now Veronika could draw on the features. Again, she seemed very focused on the sad frown.
She definitely was feeling empathy, so I quickly turned that frown upside down!
Six: Board Book
The book this month was Poppy’s Feelings. I was again underwhelmed by the book, feeling that the company could have done more to make it interactive, but Veronika enjoyed the pictures.
We then played one of the Beyond the Crate suggestions, an old favorite of practicing emotions in front of the mirror. While you’re there, test whether your child is fully aware of the mirror by placing a toy next to him or her. Veronika reached for the real toy, not the mirror version, so she’s got it!
We also watched a sing-along of “If You’re Happy And You Know It”, pretty much the perfect song about emotions.
Finally, we checked out the following 3 books at the library:
- Today I Feel Silly, by Jamie Lee Curtis
- In My Heart: A Book of Feelings, by Jo Witek
- The Feelings Book, by Todd Parr