As a therapist working with children, I’m always on the lookout for new resources and ideas for making therapy fun and engaging for my young clients. Commercial resources can be a great way to keep sessions interesting and to broaden my therapy tools and activities. At one of our recent Creative Child Therapy Workshops, we had some favourite commercial resources on display, and one of the participants mentioned it would be great if we had these written up in a list. I hope she reads this blog and sees that I liked her idea! Here is my list of favourite commercial resources for therapy with children…
Feelings cards by St Luke’s Innovative Resources – It was too hard for me to choose which set of St Luke’s feelings cards to include in my list, as they have several lovely sets! The Bears are a classic, and have been loved by many therapists over the years. They now exist in an app too. Funky Fish Feelings and Stones…have feelings too! are also terrific feelings cards, and are perhaps more appealing to older children. Having feelings visuals is essential for working with children. You’ll find St Luke’s Innovative Resources at www.innovativeresources.org.
Mood Dudes Poster: How are you feeling today? – This may be my most used commercial resource, as it hangs on my wall making it accessible to any clients who are trying to find the word to describe their emotion. The Mood Dudes are pretty cool, though any good feelings poster could be helpful for this. I found my poster at www.lighthouseresources.com.au.
Eggspressions by Hape – These are gorgeous wooden eggs each depicting an emotion. They have lovely faces and a nice smooth texture so are great to hold. They can be a nice visual prop for children to communicate their feelings, or for imaginative play with the eggs as characters showing emotions. They come with little stands so they also look great on an office shelf!
Emoji stress balls or ‘stress eggs’ – These are cheap, squishy balls with emojis (or eggs with feelings faces) that I picked up in junk shops. It’s helpful to have some tactile, visual representations of feelings, and these are great because they can be thrown around in games incorporating discussion of the feelings.
Pocket of Stones by St Luke’s Innovative Resources – A little bag containing 12 hand-crafted ceramic heads, each one depicting a different facial expression. Tactile feelings resources are great to have though harder to find, and these ones are gorgeous.
Thoughts and Feelings: A Sentence Completion Card Game by Bright Spots – These are cute, colourful cards, that I have found helpful to incorporate in ‘getting to know you’ games with children.
Totika – This is a Jenga-like therapeutic game, with coloured blocks, and cards with questions corresponding to the coloured block you move. There are a number of card sets with different topics, such as icebreakers, self-esteem or life-skills, which seem best suited to older children or adolescents. It’s a fun, non-threatening way to explore these topics. If you like the idea of creating your own therapeutic Jenga game, so that you can simplify and modify the questions to suit your clients, check out our blog “I wanna play a game! – Playful child assessment and how to make your own therapeutic Jenga.”
Human Brain Cross Section Model in Foam – I have found my foam model of a brain useful when I’m talking with children about the feeling and thinking parts of the brain. I bought mine from Haines Educational online shop at www.haines.com.au. Unfortunately, it didn’t show the amygdala, so I drew it on!
Strengths Cards for Kids by St Luke’s Innovative Resources – St Luke’s strengths cards have been favourites of mine for many years, as they are lovely colourful cards depicting a broad range of strengths. They have a number of strengths cards sets that are suitable for children – I found it hard to choose!
Bundle of Stickers by St Luke’s Innovative Resources – I love the way St Luke’s have sticker versions of their popular card sets. It is so important for us to be helping children generalise their learning from therapy to other environments by sending them home with reminders and prompts. Stickers are a great way to do this! If you are like me and can’t choose between sets, you can choose their Bundle of Stickers which has a sheet of stickers from each set.
A Therapeutic Deck of Grounding, Soothing, Coping and Regulating Cards by Dr Karen Treisman – This is one of my most-used card sets, suitable for children, adolescents, and their parents. The range of strategies covered in this card set is huge, and the variety is impressive, with physical, sensory, cognitive, imaginative, activity-based and mindfulness-based strategies, designed to calm the body and the mind. Available at www.jkp.com.
Commercial resources can be fun and engaging, and provide different ways to incorporate visual and hands-on materials into therapy with children. They can be a starting point for therapeutic conversations and they can inspire creative activities to extend on the concepts. We would love to hear about your favourite commercial resources – please share in the comments!
Please note that these are some of our favourite resources and we are recommending them in the hope that others also find them helpful. We are not receiving any endorsements for these recommendations.