Whenever my kids have faced a life change, such as moving to a new country or introducing a new sibling, I have tried to use creative play to help prepare them. In addition to the usual talks over dinner or while riding in the car, play allows the kids to bring up their own topics organically and allows the children to express themselves in a natural way.
Role play, puppets, and felt boards are great props to spark the play. Conversations can cover as much as your child is interested in talking about: from feelings, to fears, to all the practical details that they may be wonderful about.
Last year before we left on our trip around Australia, this camping felt board was a great addition to our conversations. There are lots of felt boards available on different themes to start with, and you can always create your own felt shapes to add as well.
Here are some play prompts to use with a felt board:
- Which character is you?
- How do they feel?
- What do they want to do next?
- What are they most scared of?
- What are they excited about?
- Which character is mum/dad? What are they going to do?
- What do you think will happen when…?
- Do you think they will enjoy that?
- What can help them?
Usually one or two questions will be all it takes for the kids to take the lead. It is a neat way to see inside their minds and find out what they are thinking about.
Here are some more play ideas for big life changes:
- Asking your child to create a character that is going through the same situation, and tell a story about it
- Drawing your feelings about the new change
- Choosing a doll or stuffed toy to be a “special friend” during the change
- Creating a calendar or count down so your child can be aware of the timing of upcoming events
- Asking your child if they would like to hear about similar childhood experiences you faced
You can explore more ideas about props for creative role play here.
What other ways do you prepare kids for new life experiences?
Looking for more educational resources?
Thanks to Child.com.au for sponsoring this post as well as 10 readings of my storybook Mason’s Greatest Gems as we travel around the country. This book gives parents and teachers a hands-on analogy about what it means to “mine your inner gems” and develop virtues. Character building activities such as the ones described in this post can work beautifully together with this book.
Child.com.au has given each class I visit a $100 voucher to use on educational materials for their students. They offer a great range of supplies including social and emotional learning resources. My last book reading was to an after-school virtues program in Richmond, Queensland.
The teacher made up two awesome activities to follow up on the book reading.
The first was to get the kids up and have them “freeze” when they heard a virtue. She listed lots of words such as jealousy, anger, sadness, etc and they got to move around the room while she said these. But when she said a virtue such as kindness, courtesy or helpfulness they had to freeze. It was a fun challenge to ensure they understood what “virtues” were, and the kids loved it!
The second activity was drawing a self-portrait with your “inner gems.” Here are a few of the pieces of artwork (the kids were 7 to 10 years old).
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Thank you to Child.com.au for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. To read more about reviews on my website, visit this page.