Ideas for extra fun and exploration with ‘How Are You Feeling Today?’ by Molly Potter

Published Categorized as activities, Books

Whenever schools or libraries invite me to read from How Are You Feeling Today?, I always figure just reading it is not nearly interactive enough. Consequently, I have created a lot of activities that I think makes the experience more fun! I thought I would share with you some of the ideas I use, to potentially enhance your experiences of reading this book with your children. So here goes…

HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY?

When you feel happy…

Illustration by
Sarah Jennings
– permission granted
  • Ask if happiness is an enjoyable or unenjoyable emotion.
  • Make it clear you can’t expect to feel it all of the time
  • Sort triggers of happiness from those you think would make you most to least happy e.g. chocolate cake, a friend coming to play, coming home from school and finding a wrapped present waiting for you, a trip to the beach, a visit from your favourite relative, playing a board game with a grown up, being told you’re getting a pet dog, a ride on a big wheel, being told you’re getting a pet cat, being told you’re getting a per dog, being told you’re amazing, having a bedtime story read to you etc.
  • Create the compliment that would make you most happy to receive.
  • Decide what happiness would taste, sound, look, smell and feel like to the touch if you could sense it in this way.

When you feel angry…

  • Decide how angry different triggers would make you (you could use an anger ‘thermometer’ to indicate this). For example: someone pushing in front of you in a queue, someone calling you stupid, someone laughing at you because you fell over, being told off by a teacher for something you didn’t do etc.
  • Consider the physical symptoms of anger and where in the body you feel them.
  • Decide what weather, colour, sound, flavour, shape, animal etc. anger would be.
  • Draw an emoticon that looks angry. See if you can draw another than looks angrier.
  • Consider all the things anger can urge you to want to do and decide whether these are helpful or not.
  • Consider all the strategies on this page and which you think would work best for you for dealing with anger.

When you feel bored…

  • Stand in the position a statue called ‘boredom’ would stand in. Decide what colour it would be and what its soundtrack would be (coming out of a loud speaker)!
  • Have a go at describing what feeling bored feels like. You might need lots of describing words like flat, lazy, grey, still, hard to get going, heavy-eyed, trapped, the opposite of entertained, blank, foggy, unimpressible, unmotivated, monotonous etc.
  • Use the ideas on the page (and add to them) to create a ‘Boredom Menu’ listing (and illustrating) things you could do when you feel bored. Explain that these things usually need to be easy to start as often when we feel bored, we have an apathy that can prevent us form doing the things that would stop us from being bored!

When you feel worried…

  • Explain that worrying is when an unhelpful thought goes round and round in your head and each time it goes round it makes you feel more and more anxious. You can learn to stop doing this – sometimes by just making yourself aware that you’re doing it and saying , ‘stop’ each time you catch yourself. (I tend to describe worry as the thinking and anxiety as the feeling with older children.)
  • Draw a worry machine of your own including the strategies you think would be most useful for you. You could go further and create an actual machine like Ella did.
  • Consider the physical symptoms of worry and where in the body you feel them.
  • Share some things you have worried about in the past and consider how these worries eventually left you.
  • If there’s something you’re worrying about now, picture it, change the picture to black and white (if it isn’t already), step outside the image, if you are in it, so it becomes as if you are watching it on TV, turn down the volume, make the picture smaller, and give the image the soundtrack of an upbeat or funny tune. If you can get good at this it can start to reduce the ‘strength’ of a worry. It does take practice.
Illustration by Sarah Jennings

When you feel sad…

  • Explain that we feel sad when we have lost something (something we once had or something we hoped to have) and that’s it’s normal to feel sad when we are recovering from that loss. Sadness like this nearly always eventually goes away.
  • Walk the saddest walk you can.
  • Speak in the saddest voice you can make.
  • Put ‘sad’ into an image search engine and decide which image best represent sadness for you.
  • Consider how a good cry often makes you feel better when you feel sad (which is one of the many messages in my book, ‘It’s OK to Cry‘)

When you feel excited…

  • Create an excitement dance for your hands to do when you feel excited. (I often clap super quickly when I am excited!)
  • As it suggests on the page, have a go at drawing what you think excitement would look like.
  • Think about idioms for excited and consider how they link to the idea of feeling excited. For example: butterflies in your tummy, jumping for joy, on cloud nine, thrilled to pieces, besides oneself with excitement, over the moon, chomping at the bit, bouncing off the walls, eyes lit up, can’t contain myself, buzzing with excitement, walking on air,  (some have an overlap with joy and enthusiasm but this can be discussed).
  • Consider if and how excitement – although always enjoyable – can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable (e.g. unsettled tummy, fidgety, full of almost painful hope, wanting time to go quickly etc.) This can also be especially true if we are excited about something that has a chance of possibly not happening.
  • List things that always trigger excitement.

When you feel grumpy…

  • Explain that everyone feels grumpy now and then and it’s totally normal! However, it’s much better if we can manage not to take our grumpiness out on someone else.
  • Consider which of these would be the best thing to say if you were grumpy: ‘Go away’, ‘You’re so annoying’ or ‘I am feeling grumpy and struggling to be cheerful about things’.
  • Create the grumpiest sounding noise you can.
  • Pull the grumpiest expression you can.
  • Dance in a grumpy way.
  • Say ‘I am grumpy’ in a squeaky voice, over and over, until it makes you laugh!

When you feel scared…

Illustration by Sarah Jennings
  • Explain that we can feel scared when we are in danger but that we can also feel scared by things that are not actually likely to harm us, like the dark. Sort some things some people are scared of into those that could harm us and those that are unlikely to. For example: a ghost train, walking on a cliff top, the dark, holding a slug, lightening, mice, walking into a room of strangers, the dentist, getting lost etc.
  • Think about how long fear usually lasts for (usually only as long as the danger is present although we can be a little unsettled for a while afterwards).
  • Discuss what fear makes you feel like doing: run, be still and observe really carefully, push things away, avoid things etc.
  • Consider things we are scared of that are dangerous and what we can do to stay safe.
  • Consider what our eyes do when we are scared. (They can open up wide when we need to be alert and they can close up when we feel a need to protect ourselves). You could consider what our mouth does too! (We open it to scream, we put our hand over it to protect, we possibly show our teeth to protect etc.) Raising awareness of our physical reactions can help children become more aware of their emotions as they arise.

When you feel like you want to be quiet…

  • Discuss the times in the day when we might most like to be quiet.
  • Rate the suggestions on the page from those you’d most like to do, to the least.
  • Try and be quiet for exactly a minute. use a timer to see how close to a minute you can manage.
  • Try a simple breathing exercise that can feel pleasant when you want to be quiet. Breath in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 5.
  • Listen really carefully and list all the sounds you can hear – however quiet.
  • Decide upon the best places in your home to be quiet – if there are any!

When you feel jealous or envious…

  • Explain the difference between envy (when you want something someone else has – which can need only two people) and jealousy (e.g. when you’re concerned a friend likes someone else more than you – which needs at least three people).
  • Explain how gratitude can help us feel less envious or jealous and list as many things as you can that make you feel grateful. e.g. snuggling up in bed, sunny days, good friends, the things we are good at, tasty treats etc.
  • Draw a green-eyed monster!
Illustration by
Sarah Jennings

When you feel embarrassed…

  • Share stories of embarrassment and if you can’t think of any, make up an imaginary one!
  • Think about pairs of adjectives and which of each pair seems most like embarrassment. For example: spiky or smooth, loud or quiet, easy or difficult, big or small, jumpy or calm etc.
  • Complete the ‘True or false embarrassment quiz’ on page 32 of the How Are You Feeling Today – Activity and Sticker Book’

When you feel shy

  • Consider which of the strategies on the page will sort best for you and then think of other simple strategies.
  • Think of situations where you feel more or less shy and what makes it so e.g. people you know well, how many people are there, how noisy it is, if it’s the first time you’ve been somewhere, if others make you feel welcome, whether you feel like you have something to say or not, how much people are likely to notice you etc.
  • Discuss the best ways to greet someone you don’t know. E.g. say hello and smile, ask a simple question, admit you feel a bit shy etc.

Have fun with your little ones!

I might get round to doing the same for the sequel to this book: How Are You Feeling Now? at some point.