A Simple Way To Teach Emotional Skills to Preschoolers.
Every child has the right to have emotions. It is up to us to teach them what to do with those emotions.
As a preschool director, I know how tough it is when a child becomes frustrated. They may scream, cry, throw objects or even hit their peers. They become overstimulated and their peers stop wanting to play with them.
What if preschoolers could:
* Calm down (instead of scream.)
* Tell you how they feel (instead of stomp away.)
* Problem-solve (instead of give up.)
When we provide children with a sensory rich calm down area that provides positive reinforcement and visual tools to help them communicate their feelings, preschoolers are able to self regulate and problem solve. Using the Soothing Sammy System does this through play.
3 Step Soothing Sammy Program:
1. Read Sammy Book
The colorful photos and simple story is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged children. Sammy, a golden retriever, shows his friends, how to calm down with sensory items he has in his home (such as using a washcloth to dampen their face, eating a crunchy snack and listening to a calming song, etc.)
2. Build Sammy's House
Using an empty box or container, follow the directions in the back of the book to construct a "Sammy house" for the plush to live in. Fill it with household items discussed in the back of the children's book. When a child feels upset, redirect them to the Sammy house to calm down (just like the kids did in the book!)
3. Emotions Curriculum
These play-based, large and small group lessons introduce Sammy so the children remember what he's used for. Children learn how Sammy works, why it helps them calm down, and how to communicate their feelings. This week-long curriculum can be used on it's own or within your ongoing themes.
How to use Sammy in the classroom:
"I have been a preschool teacher for several years, and this school year we have had many children with BIG emotions in our classroom. It was getting hard for me to come to school in the morning. Some children were screaming, some were throwing objects and others we scared of their friends. These children were experiencing emotions that they couldn't control, and they reacted with escalating behaviors. Then I came across the "Soothing Sammy Emotions Program." The first time I introduced Soothing Sammy, my day went from scary to AMAZING! The children love him! I couldn't believe it worked. Children need concrete lessons...something they can see and feel that makes calming down understandable. Sammy does that for them.
Sammy helped a child that was sad/anxious.
We have a new little girl who has been with us for a few weeks but is very anxious when mom leaves. I reminded her about Sammy and she visited his house and found a fidget to play with which. She loved it. She gave it back to Sammy when she was done. We also listened to some music and later she was ready to join circle time! She goes to Sammy now for comfort when she feels overwhelmed.
Sammy helped a child that was mad/frustrated.
We have a little boy who is very aggressive when he becomes upset. When I mention "Sammy Time" he stops his behavior instantly and walks over to Sammy for some cuddles and sensory time. When he is calm, we are able to talk about the problem and he moves on happily, remembering that Sammy is there for quiet time when he needs to regroup. This is how I know Sammy is magic!
Sammy is relatable and is the class friend!
Sammy is a star with the whole class! We have been implementing Sammy's emotion activities in the classroom for a few weeks. The kids are really enjoying him and even want him to eat with us at meal time. We have a special dog bowl for him and he sits on a shelf while our food service worker feeds him and comes over to take food out discreetly to show he has ate his meal. They have an adorable love for Sammy, trusting him as a friend and support program.
We also talk about dogs not liking people coming over and taking their food or pet them while they eat. This led into some fun conversation and lessons around animal safety. It's a perfect addition to our pet theme!
Sammy also takes a nap after lunch and we cover his box up with a towel (because the kids decided he likes to sleep in the dark.) They all say "night night Sammy!" and then the children settle in for their naps.
Sammy helps children at home (and parents too!)
My students are beginning to plan their own Sammy house to bring home. They have picked the color they are going to paint his house (shoe box) and what calming tools they will put in it. I am giving them a laminated picture of Sammy to put in their home. They are excited to take Sammy's house home to help them calm down if they are angry or sad when not at school. It was really easy for me to explain to parents with the parent hand-out that comes with the set.
As a Preschool Teacher, I have come to realize that children's behaviors are usually a cry for help or for attention... OR they just don't know what to do with their feelings. Soothing Sammy is so much more than a toy. He is practical, functional, comprehensive, and a real asset to any preschool classroom. I don't know where I would be without him. " - Kala, Preschool Teacher (Head Start)
Teach Emotional Intelligence In a Positive Way.
Hi! My name is Jeana Kinne. While spending 20 years as an Early Childhood Educator, I couldn't find an emotional curriculum that taught children how to manage their feelings in a way that was simple for them to understand.
Set your children up for success by teaching them how to:
4.Use their sensory system to calm down.
"Sammy is a Dream Come True!
When we introduced Sammy, we used the Curriculum that was included in the set which was awesome! Now, teachers are able say "Sammy Time" to kids that seems sad or upset, redirecting them to go to Sammy for support. They know just what to do! Then we solve the problem together. This is a fantastic program/tool." - Ann, Preschool Supervisor
- self soothe.
- self regulate.
- build empathy.
- learn feelings words.
- create trust with peers and adults.
- ask for help.
- navigate disagreements.
- identify feelings.
- connect with their peers.
- share space and items.
- become self- confident in response to feelings.
- develop self-control.
- express their feelings to others.
Sammy is perfect in our classroom!
"For three weeks now we have been using Sammy in our classroom, and used the curriculum guide we received, to teach calm down techniques. The kids took to the concept immediately! This is a fantastic program/tool." - Pat
"The children are very interested in Sammy and the story. It generated a lot of discussion about what to do when you are mad. They were also very interested in decorating a box to be his home. I gave the children glue, collage materials, colored tape and markers and let them decorate it independently. This is a good purchase!"
- Jenny, Preschool Director
1.Children's Book - The colorful photos and simple story is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged children.
2.Soothing Sammy Plush Dog (Golden Retriever) - Meets and exceeds all US safety Standards for children ages 2 years old and up.It's machine washable and measures 11.5" x 3.5" x 10"
3.Sammy Music (MP3 Version)- Enjoy 3 Sammy Songs that teach your children that Sammy is their friend!
4.Soothing Sammy Curriculum E-Book (Digital PDF) - Introduce Sammy to children in a way they will remember what it is for. Includes Sammy corner print-outs, coloring pages and sensory activities.
5.Emotions Poster: (11" x 17") Add to any wall. This multi-cultural poster allows children to understand what facial expressions mean on others and show you how they feel.
6.Soothing Sammy Behavior Guide (Book) - This 200 page book includes a variety of play-based activities that make daily routines fun and engaging. Each of the 6 sections includes tips for parents and teachers on how to support positive behaviors throughout the day. 3.
How Soothing Sammy Works:
Charlie would always throw a tantrum when it was time to clean up. He didn't want to stop playing!
Sometimes I would give-in and have the class do something else while he kept playing (even when he was knocking blocks over during circle time.)
Other times, I listened to the ear-piercing screams as I cleaned the toys up for him, hoping parents weren't going to walk in. I was frustrated, tired and unsure of what to do....That is until I created Soothing Sammy.
I introduced "Soothing Sammy" to the whole class on Monday morning using the curriculum. At 11am (when we were cleaning up to go outside) my heart started racing because Charlie was playing in his favorite spot, the painting easels. I could see Charlie clenching his fist with anger.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw "Soothing Sammy" and thought, "It's worth a try!"
I quickly said "Sammy Time" and Charlie's eyes lit up. He remembered the Sammy story, ran over to Sammy's house and used the items in the box to calm down (especially the squishy ball.)
It was magic! A few minutes later, we sat down (with Sammy in tow) and came up with a plan of what we were going to do next and how he could help me. We swapped some hi-fives had a great the rest of our day!
We start feeling emotions the moment we are born, but, when children join a group situation, including preschool, they are forced to navigate feelings they have never experienced before.
Feelings such as frustration from waiting, irritation from sharing space, annoyance from another child's behavior.... and so much more.
The American Psychological Association reports: "According to one set of analyses (Curby & Berke, 2016), Kindergarten teachers indicated that many of their students were not ready for Kindergarten. Furthermore, these teachers prioritized social–emotional skills over academic skills at entrance to kindergarten."
Why would Kindergarten teachers want social-emotional skills prioritized over academics?
When asked, one teacher replied: "If a child can't problem-solve with their peers, take turns or wait, I can't teach them anything."
Create a "Sammy Time" Corner Anywhere in Your Classroom.
From teaching children how to calm down, to building Sammy's house, Soothing Sammy can be used as a week or month long curriculum.
When you purchase Soothing Sammy, you will receive an email that includes curriculum ideas and suggestions on how to introduce and use Soothing Sammy to your classroom! This includes:
*Benchmark Criteria/List of Skills
and so much more!
Following these guidelines will teach your children how to use Sammy appropriately!
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 18 years of experience working in a variety of positions within the Early Childhood field.
She has worked as a Preschool Teacher, 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.