Yesterday a member of the Facebook group Elementary School Counselor Exchange (an awesome group, and well worth joining if you're on FB) shared a pin from Vermont artist Cynthia Emerlye showing her "Instant Comfort Boxes." As it happens, I had come across this gem of an idea from Cynthia last month and absolutely fallen in love.
The idea is simple. You ask your student to think of a feeling they often need help with like anger, anxiety, grief, or jealousy. They write the word on the outside of a small matchbox, and decorate it however they'd like. Inside they write a word or phrase that they can take a peek at whenever they're having that feeling, like "breathe" or "you are enough."
I stocked up on matchboxes (at Target or the grocery store they're about $1 for a package of 12), and two weeks ago tried this activity with my 4th grade boys' anxiety group, a Kindergartener who's looking for an adoptive home, and a 1st grader who lost her mom a year ago.
Every one of those kids LOVED the project, even the boys who are not terribly crafty or artistic. One of them has pulled his out of his pocket every time I've seen him since. He wants to make another for when he's feeling angry.
I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of any of the kid-created ones. The photo above is the box I made for my Kindergartener in foster care. You can see I added a tactile element---a tiny felt heart that she can rub with her fingertip. We wrote down the names of people who love her on a small piece of paper and folded it up to place inside as well. Foster mom reports that she reads it to herself every morning before school and every night before bed.
The first grader wrote, "Mom is with me" inside hers. She keeps it in her desk.
I love love LOVE this! Try it with your kiddos. It packs quite a therapeutic punch for something so small. Let me know if you come up with any other ideas of how to make them even more awesome!