A Jar Full of Feelings is a visual sensory regulation activity to help children recognize and respond appropriately to their feelings.
Explaining feelings and emotions to young children can be complicated; especially so for children on the Autism Spectrum. I had been making progress with one of my young students by drawing comic strips and meters but one day he told me, “This is not working. I have too many feelings!” The next level after recognizing and regulating one’s emotions is to realize that there are many times that we have mixed emotions and we have choices about how we respond to those emotions.
Target Skills for this Emotions Sensory Regulation Activity:
- Recognizing and regulating feelings
Materials for this Emotions Sensory Regulation Activity:
- Sharpie pen
- Pom poms
Instructions for this Emotions Sensory Regulation Activity:
Take a jar and write the numbers 1-5 on the side of the jar. You can draw a horizontal line to clearly measure level 1, 2, etc.
Have the child assign a color to an emotion. Then have the child fill the jar to the level that they feel their emotion is at that time. Talk about what is causing the emotion as they put each pom pom into the jar. For instance, your child is disappointed because a favorite toy was lost. Have them tell you what they are feeling: sad, angry, etc. as they put the pom poms in the jar. If they keep filling the jar past the level where one would expect that emotion to be done and worked through talk to the child about how that emotion grew bigger than it needed to be. Then take another jar for calm and happy feelings. Have the child talk about what helps them feel calm or happy as they put the pompoms into the jar. Then go back to the “disappointed” or “angry” jar. Ask the child if they are willing to take any of the pom poms out of the jar.
Hopefully, they will. If not, try to entice them by making a game of throwing or “exploding” the pom poms.
If a child is too angry to place the pom poms in the jar in the first place have them throw the pom poms into the jar; it will help them work off some frustration.