I recently ran into a problem: the toddlers I’m working with needed a toy that could help them learn to label emotions. Interestingly, our research is showing that it’s easier for children to label others’ emotions than it is for them to label their own so I start with kids labeling the emotions of others. For older kids I use the Zones of Regulation curriculum, but flash cards and drawings are rarely effective with toddlers (I’ve had a couple of exceptions).
While shopping around for a toy I ran into a couple problems: often there was a different toy for each emotion. The idea that each of us has only one emotion is one I didn’t want to miscommunicate. Another problem I had is that many of the toddler’s toys didn’t have an angry face. On top of that, many of the faces were color-coded by emotion and these colors didn’t coordinate with the Zones of Regulation.
What I eventually landed on is the WhatsItsFace stuffed animals. So far the toddlers I work with are split evenly between loving it, being ambivalent about it, and being scared of it.
- Some kids are scared of it.
- Some kids have a hard time switching its faces.
- Reasonable price!
- The one character changes emotions – avoiding wrongfully communicating that each of us has 1 emotion.
- Has each of the 4 Zones of Regulation (fight, flight, freeze/fawn, and calm)
- Each face/emotion doesn’t have it’s own color (which can be confusing when using the Zones of Regulation curricula).