Each month, we send new ideas and activities to the Children’s Program Coordinators at each of the Visitor Centers. These activities address the unique needs of children impacted by incarceration and aim to give children ways to process emotions.
For Infants: Magic Mirror
Purpose: Engage parents in social emotional development of their infants
Materials: Mirror (preferably hand held)
- The caregiver holds the mirror in front of the infant’s face so they can see themselves
- While the baby gazes into the mirror, the caregiver can say things such as:
- Who is that!
- Look at you smiling; you must be happy!
- You have brown eyes
- The caregiver can also hold them mirror so both baby and themselves are visible and talk about family, etc
Engaging infants in talk about themselves and others not only increases communication skills (such as responding to verbal cues, identifying a home language, and the act of communicating through words and actions) but helps them learn about themselves (feeling valued and attached to others and being competent and proud), their feelings (communicating through gestures, sounds, and words in an appropriate manner), and about others (developing trust and interest and care and cooperation with others).
Parents also stand to gain more understanding about how their infant communicates and confidence in the emotional growth of their child.
For Middle Childhood: Extra! Extra! Read All About Me…
Purpose: Children will identify and document memories (stories) about important people/times in their lives
- Newspaper Template
- Writing Materials
- Caregiver guides child through creating a Newspaper with a name and articles (with titles and/or pictures) about special people or times in their lives such as:
- Spotlight: Child’s Name
- Local Dad Wins Best BBQ Award
- Caution: Monster Little Sister on the Loose
- Newspaper can be filled with pictures and captions if full paragraphs are difficult
Child will have a piece of work caregivers can identify with and talk to their child about (source of pride).
This activity can be completed as a group or alone!
For All Ages: Feelings Collage
Purpose: Children will identify various emotional cues in other people
- Children look through magazines for pictures of people
- Cut out pictures and clue on paper
- Caregiver (and other children) dialogue with each other about what the person in the picture is expressing
- What about their facial features tells you how they are feeling?
- How does it make you feel when people smile at you?
Children learn to recognize visual cues of emotion in people. Sharing and talking about the pictures provides additional insight from others.
We know the key to learning is to engage caregivers in their child’s development. When caregivers are in the center with their children, we invite them to join in the activities. Please share these activities with anyone who may benefit from them!