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Kimochi Means “Feelings” in Japanese

Months ago we purchased a set of 12 Kimochis to use in our groups and
individual therapy.

Kimochis® are an engaging and effective way to introduce the
fourth “R”—reading, writing, arithmetic, and RELATIONSHIPS—into a
child’s life.

Each little Kimochi is a stuffed circle made out of soft material, bearing the name
of a feeling such as happy and sad along with the more elusive emotions such
as brave, proud, embarrassed, and the ever important, silly. On the other side
of these stuffed circles, you will find simple line drawings of facial expressions
depicting the emotions.

We use these little Kimochis for our action-emotion game. Kids choose a
Kimochi from a bag and a card with an action written or drawn on it. They then
combine and act out the emotion with the action while the other kids watch and
guess; similar to charades. We have observed sweeping sadly, embarrassed
jumping, and frustrated eating. Needless to say, this game becomes a little silly
but it has been a non-threatening way for the children to talk about, practice
assuming and reading facial expressions, and recognize body language as a way
to express emotion. It’s also a motor planning challenge to show emotion with
the body and facial expression while also executing a simple action.

I bought a couple large Kimochis recently as well. These stuffed animals have a
whole personality attached to them. Bugs is a shy caterpillar with wings tucked
in pockets behind his back. His wings can be pulled out to reflect bravery. I
have used this particular Kimochi with a little girl who has constitutional shyness.
She couldn’t look at or even talk to another person in the clinic. After carrying
Bugs around, she has been able to show me without using words, when she is
feeling brave enough to talk to another child. She has been able to interact, play,
and negotiate with another child in the gym for several weeks now with the help
of Bugs.

There is so much more to these appealing stuffed characters. I encourage you
to check out the web site, educator’s tools and products at www.kimochis.com.

As we all work to support the social and emotional health of our young children,
it’s great to have tools such as these to use and enjoy!

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

For more therapist-curated toys, please click over to our Amazon Store so they know who sent you. 

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