Every classroom I have taught in has been a hub of energy. The children may look very young but I have been surprised at how established their personalities are already. After half an hour in the classroom I believe you could spot the introverts from the extroverts, the leaders from the followers and so on.
Just like us adults, all the children have their own needs and emotions that are very specific to them. For this reason lunch times can be filled with both joy and upset. I am always looking for ideas on how to help guide the children in their social interactions. After all it is not easy to get along with everybody you meet, especially at six years old.
A while back I stumbled upon a resource called ‘Blobs’ by Pip Wilson. The resource consists of a series of cartoon images showing people in different situations. The blobs are basic human outlines with facial expressions and different body postures. The idea behind these ambiguous humans is to develop children’s communication skills. Blobs are a way of communicating using two of the first languages that we learn as children - body language and feelings. They help us identify how the people around us are feeling to make us more receptive to others. As well as building empathy skills, the blobs claim to be a great way to explore your own emotions. I decided to give it a try with my students this week.
The resource comes with a long list of questions. The context was a school playground with 30 or so characters to choose from. I began the activity by asking the children, "Which blob would you be?"
One of my more studious pupils pointed to a blob climbing a lamp, 'I am this one because I want to see how the lamp is working.’
Another pointed to a blob crying on the floor, ‘I am this one because I keep getting hurt during play time.’
‘I am the blob standing in the puddle because I like getting wet.’
Another pupil pointed to a blob at the back of the playground. The blob was on its own, looking out from the window at the other children playing. The pupil who chose this blob is currently unable to speak in school.
In that moment, we realized the potential of this resource. The blob activity gives the children the tools to express themselves emotionally, which is something they might not be able to do on their own.
We moved in to smaller groups to discuss the other questions. The children used the body language of the blobs to identify: Which blob is caring? Which blob is lonely? etc. We also asked more personal questions: Which blob would you like to be friends with? Which blob were you yesterday? Which blob scares you? Which blob confuses you?
The results were varied of course. Some of the children found the blobs pretty funny but as a result lost focus on the questions. However most of the children made really thoughtful and revealing comments.
One boy remarked, "I want to sit by the blob looking hunched over because he looks sad and I want to make him feel better."
"I would like to be friends with the blob hiding behind the tree because it’s sneaky. I like being sneaky too, sometimes I sneak in to my parents room and use the iPad without them knowing."
After spending six months with the children, we have a good understanding of their personalities. However, some of their feelings and responses still surprised us. The activity proved to be a great way to get to know a class quickly. Overall I really enjoyed using this resource. I learned something new about my students as well as having the opportunity to discuss social behavior in the playground.
If you would like to try this out on your class, your family or even on yourself, visit: http://www.blobtree.com/ to find out more.