Kimochis….Social and Emotional Learning

What are Kimochis? Kimochi means “feeling” in Japanese. I participated in a wonderful workshop given by a fellow speech language pathologist, Ellen Dodge regarding social emotional intelligence and competence. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took this conference for continuing education credit. Within ten minutes of being at the workshop, I was totally engaged in what Ellen was discussing with regard to social emotional competence. She spent the rest of the day discussing information regarding this topic and introducing the audience of professionals to a product called Kimochis. Ellen Dodge is the Educational Director and and leading author of The Kimochi Feel Guide: Teachers Edition. We used the Kimochis all day over several activities to discuss various concepts that can help children express themselves more freely and improve communication with others.

One of the Kimochis products are pillows with the written word of the feeling on one side and a face indicating that feeling on the other side. What I liked about these pillows was that the feelings went beyond happy, sad, excited and other basic emotions. There were tons of other feeling such as sorry, guilty, jealous, etc. Check out all of the feelings below……

Do you have a child with special needs? The pillows are excellent for those children diagnosed with autism, social communication disorder, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, ADHD, etc. It can be a concrete and tactile way of expressing feelings in a variety of situations.

The Kimochis® Educator’s Tool Kit “is a universal, school-based, Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program designed to give children the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively.” For more information about the curriculum and more products, click here.

Currently, I have been using the mixed feeling pillows sold by Kimochis at home with my own children and I am starting to use them in therapy with other children. What I love about these pillows is that it makes a child realize that you can have multiple feelings at once, both positive and negative. For example, when you start school on the first day, you can feel excited, friendly, scared, hopeful and happy. If you walk into the wrong classroom, you can feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

Here are ten ways to use the Kimochis Mixed Feeling Pillows at home or in the classroom:

1. Work on literacy by having your child identify and/or label the written feeling words.

2. Discuss the difference between happy and sad feelings (hurt is a sad feeling)

3. Categorize the feelings into happy and sad feelings.

4. Describe a feeling and have your child try to guess it.

5. Give a specific situation and discuss how they might feel in that situation (e.g. in math class, I feel ________, when I have to read in front of the class I feel _______).

6. Act out the feeling and have your child try to guess the feeling.

7. Discuss each feeling and describe what’s that like. For example, say “When no one wants to play with me, I feel ________(can be left out, hurt, sad, etc)

8. Pick a feeling and ask your child when they felt that specific feeling (for example,  your child chooses shy. Your child can describe when they first met their teacher, they felt _____)

9.Do a role playing activity and act out a scene incorporating some of the feelings.

10. Read a book and discuss how the characters feel with the feeling pillows. Check out the Kimochis books here.

Are you a teacher? Check out how to use Kimochis in the classroom……

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  1. Hi, I have a 6 year old son who has autism and is nonverbal. I saw the kimchi emotion pillow on a blog called gravity bread.com. I am interested to buy it for my son,as he is beginning to connect with us and express his emotions. Please send me the link or website where I can buy them

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