A Simple Way to Teach Emotional Development in Preschool Classrooms

We have all been there... that day when one child in the class becomes so upset over sharing a toy with another child, that they knock over a chair or hit the child. 

That day where you wish you had a plan... a simple way to redirect this child to a place to calm down, helping him/her process and communicate their feelings in a positive way.

Are you interested in creating a calm down corner in your classroom, but not sure how?

Will the kids actually use it the way it's supposed to be used?

As a Preschool Director with a Masters Degree in ECE and over 8 years of experience as a Preschool Teacher, I know how hard it is to work with young children all day, everyday! 

I wrote the Soothing Sammy Program to teach children how to calm down in a way that they can relate to, so when they need to calm down, they will take the initiative and understand what to do. 

Your children will learn how to:

  1. Identify their feelings when they are overwhelmed.
  2. Process their emotions in a positive way.
  3. Problem solve to preventing frustration in the future.

Your kids will be so much happier when they can calm down in a positive way.

You won't be so stressed out because you will have a go-to-plan when the children in your classroom become upset. 

The best part - these skills are taught in a child friendly way, making it easy for children to understand, remember and implement. Take is from Ann, a very happy preschool teachers who has already started using Soothing Sammy in their classroom:

"I am a Preschool Supervisor and we use Sammy at school. I have set up a quiet area in the classroom where we put Sammy and his house. When we introduced Sammy, we did a Circle time session on Sammy and spent one week adding each object to his house (one day they drank water from a cup or straw and discovered how they felt calm... one day the pretend they were mad and jumped in place, etc).

The dog home was built and painted by the kids and then placed in one spot of the classroom with Sammy the dog in it! It was explained how he is there to help you feel better when you are mad and he will let you borrow the items in his house, just like he did with the children in the book, to help them feel better.

Throughout the days, teachers are able to hand the postcard of the Sammy book to kids that seems sad or upset, redirecting them to go to Sammy for support, then talk to a teacher to solve the problem. This is a fantastic program/tool." - Ann

Details - Steps to Introduce Soothing Sammy to Your Classroom

Step 1: The colorful photos and simple story is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged children. In the story, children who are upset visit Sammy, a golden retriever, at his dog house. Sammy shows his friends, how to calm down with items he has in his home. The items Sammy uses resemble typical household items (including a child's cup, a washcloth, a crunchy snack, a picture and more). Once calm, Sammy and his human friends ask the children questions to help them identify their feelings, find out why they are mad, and develop a solution to the problem.  Using these sensory-rich calm-down strategies, your child will learn:

  • How to process emotions.
  • How to communicate feelings.
  • How to problem-solve.
  • How to use their sensory system to calm down

Read Soothing Sammy to the children in your class, either during a circle time or small group time.

Step 2: Have children practice the calming strategies in the book. For example, while the reading the story, have them jump, pretend to smell, take sip of water, etc. (this is a great small group/table activity).

Step 3: Build Sammy’s house together as a classroom project. This house activity can be an indoor or outdoor activity. Following the directions in the back of the book, allow children to decorate the Sammy home for Sammy to live in.

Step 4: During the next small group/circle time, place all of the items discussed in the Sammy book, into his home. Talk about each object and have the children pretend to use them to calm down.

Step 5: Take a picture of different children in the classroom pretending to calm down using the items in Sammy’s house. Print these pictures and glue them onto poster board or a piece of large butcher paper.

Step 6: Hang the photos in a quiet area of the classroom, near a corner that has a pillow or chair. Designate a small table or piece of furniture for Sammy and his house to occupy that is near these photos. 

*Note: A 9 page print out with examples will be emailed to you immediately upon purchase.

Step 8: Together, with the children, point to all of the photos of them using Sammy’s tools! Place the Sammy (the plush dog) into Sammy’s house. Put the home onto the designated spot from Step 7.

This machine washable Sammy Plush dog (11.5” L x 3”W x 10” H), encourages children to implement the calm down strategies they learned in the book. 

*Note: The Sammy Plush dog is safe for children ages 2 years old an up

Step 9: Tell the children that Sammy and his home is available if they feel upset or frustrated and need time to calm down. Sammy is to stay in his home with his tools until a child needs to use them.

Step 10: Place Sammy’s book out in the classroom library for children to look through at any time.

Step 11: Show the children the Sammy postcard (included in the set). Tell them that if they need to use the Sammy set, they can request it by handing a teacher this postcard. Place the postcard in safe space of the classroom that is easily accessible by the child.

** Note: If an adult believes that the child would benefit from Sammy’s techniques, show the child the postcard photo to suggest this to the child.

Take it from Pat, a Preschool Teacher who is sharing Sammy's techniques with families in a super fun way:

"For three weeks now, we have sent Sammy home with our "Special Friend" of the week. We read it at circle time in our classroom and now the one child is able to take Sammy home each week, sharing it with their families and learning how to use these calm down techniques at home. We are starting to get great feedback from parents and the kids are talking about the topic...in their own funny ways of course. I like the book a lot and this whole process of sending it home for the week is fun and you know that kids just love to bring something home. Building Sammy's house together was great and we really enjoy using him as an easy redirection object."

Step 12: Complete the Emotions and Feelings activities with the children in your classroom during large or small group time. These activities teach different feelings and emotion words, increasing the ability for children to communicate their feelings to peers and adults.

* Note: All activities utilize items/materials typically found at school (no need to buy more stuff to complete these activities.)

After you purchase the Program, you will receive an email with a PDF download explaining, step-by-step, how to introduce Sammy to your classroom.

Step 13: Read Parent/Teacher Guide. 

This 80-page guide teaches you how to prevent your child from becoming frustrated in everyday situations (such as transition times, sharing space and toys, listening and following directions, etc.) This book contains activities, instructions and reflection sections.

Step 14: Gently Encourage Children to Use Sammy's House.

If a child becomes upset, redirect them to Sammy's house, encouraging them to use the materials in his house to calm down. Once calm, read the Soothing Sammy together.  Use the questions at the end of the story to help the child identify why they are mad, how to fix the problem and how to prevent it from happening again in the future!

Do you work with children with Special Needs? Find out HERE how Soothing Sammy could be adapted to support the children in your care.

About the Author: Jeana Kinne received her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and has over 16 years of experience working in a variety of positions within the Early Childhood field. She has worked as a Parent Educator, Preschool Director, and currently works with children with special needs. Jeana's goal is to provide families and Preschool staff with solutions to common behavior concerns.

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