International Literacy Day

Since 1967, International Literacy Day has existed to promote the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity & human right. Great challenges have long existed in equalising access to literacy learning opportunities for all our children, in the UK & around the world. The pandemic has only added to these challenges & served as a reminder of how precious opportunities for literacy & learning truly are.  

We think one of the nicest ways to celebrate & develop literacy skills is to read a story together, as well as being a lovely chance to promote connection & togetherness. We’ve created a Moffle bookmark, that can be personalised with a child’s name & a book review template. We’ve also made a Moffle Acrostic Poem activity sheet & written an example poem for you! A few fun ways to encourage interest in reading & sharing thoughts & feelings about favourite books.

Moffle Tops

We’ve made some Moffle Tops, using toilet roll tubes & coloured paper.  Having a range of different colours & drawing different expressions for your child to choose from can be a fun activity to use to explore thoughts & feelings as well. The Moffle Tops can be a simple visual aid for talking about these things in a safe & engaging way.

Children who have lived with neglect & trauma in their early lives have often missed out on good enough support to make sense of their thoughts & feelings; to learn the words for how they are feeling & to have the opportunity to talk about them. Emotional articulacy is not innate, it is a skill that needs to be practiced, within caring relationships.

Remember the most important thing is for your child to experience enjoying making the Moffle Tops with you & the talking about thoughts & feelings part might not last very long! Your relationship & connection with them is always the most important part of doing any art & crafts together.

The Moffle books help traumatised children to identify & talk about their feelings.  The Moffles’ fur changes colours to reflect their emotions & this is a simple visual aid to exploring them through the colourful characters.

Moffle Scavenger Hunt

Looking for simple activities for the summer holidays? Here are some Moffle Scavenger Hunt sheets – one to use indoors & one for the garden or park. The blank scavenger sheets are where you can add your own items to look for.

Scavenger hunts are a great way to encourage little ones to focus on the world around them & notice the little things. They also offer opportunities for building body awareness using the tactile system, by encouraging your child to touch things with different textures, shapes & sizes.

Suggestions for indoor objects to place on the list can include:

plastic or rubbery animals, building blocks, cotton balls, sponges, buttons, popcorn, dried beans, small craft pom-poms, dominoes, balloons, squeezy stress balls etc.

Pawfect Breathing Games

Pawfect Breathing Games

Mindful breathing can help children feel calmer, but sometimes breathing practices are hard for traumatised children. Practices that involve being very still or having eyes-closed or with periods of silence can be challenging for a child if they are easily triggered into a fight/flight/freeze response. In survival mode, it is impossible to be mindful.

I have found in my therapeutic work that initially many children have not been able to take deep breaths. Short, shallow breathing has become habitual for them, probably as a result of living in constant states of hypervigilance & tension. Finding simple but playful activities that involve an element of breath control, can be a good introduction to mindful breathing, & feel less challenging than focusing solely on the breath. Such activities can also help to encourage co-operative play.

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Moffle Hand Puppets

We have Moffled some hand puppets! We’ve labelled some emotions, given them colours & expressions & described a body sensation for each one.

Puppets can be great to use for exploring thoughts & feelings & creating stories together.  Making your own puppets means you can really personalise them –choose your own colours & shapes for emotions & write on them as many sensations or feelings as you like!

There’s a natural playfulness to picking up a puppet & using your hand & voice to magically bring it to life. Children often enjoy using puppets to talk about things, as they can help to externalise situations & create a safe distance between the child & any problem. The little characters can take ownership of the conversation & be used for playing out different scenarios & practising new behaviours or ways of being.  A lovely way to encourage problem solving & empathy, & an opportunity to create new meanings & understanding together.

What do Moffles Need?

Here’s a colourful Moffle version of a visual I use in conversations with children about what they might need to help them to grow up healthy & happy.

In therapy, many children have told me that they were ‘not looked after properly’ by their birth parents. Often, they have heard this phrase but struggle to understand what it really means, especially if they have few conscious memories of their past. Or if they have experienced a lot of neglect & a chaotic home environment, they may have very little idea of the ‘good enough’ care that they need & deserve.  I’ve found that creating pictures together of what all children need, can make it easier to begin to explore what they may have missed out on early in life.

Sometimes, cutting out images from magazines & making collages, drawing, or building scenes in a sand tray are helpful. For some children who struggle to initiate or come up with ideas, or are very worried about getting things wrong, a pre-prepared visual like this one can help warm the context. Talking about potentially tricky things from a once removed position, in this case through the Moffle characters, can help to make it feel less challenging for them.

Another use is with children who are mistrustful & struggling to see that they are cared for now – to focus attention & as a prompt for highlighting signs of safety & nurture in their current homes. Parents or cares can share specific stories of having met their child’s needs in the different areas identified, or the child can be invited to come up with some of their own, if they are able. 

Moffle Sandtray

We’ve made a Tippy Moffle’s Mirror sandtray! Can you spot the different characters & scenes that we’ve created from the story?

For children who find it difficult to talk about their thoughts & feelings, or are unwilling to do so, making use of a sandtray can feel like a safer & easier way to communicate. Play is the child’s natural medium of communication & there is no need to verbalise – the little sandtray miniatures become their words.

Just as reading picture books together can create a level of distance from difficult subjects, that make it easier for the child to think about them, so the symbolic nature of the sand & objects can provide a gentle route into exploring experiences that might otherwise feel overwhelming. Here, using Moffles instead of human figures can add to that sense of distance & safety.

Moffle Story Mountain

Here is a Moffle Story Mountain to inspire you to create some stories together!

Start at the beginning – who is your main character & where are they?

Then comes the build-up – what is happening & why? What does the main character want? What are the problems or obstacles in the way?

Followed by the climax – what happens to make things get worse? How can your character be strong and steady like a mountain? How do they feel?

Then the resolution – What choices does your character make? How do they overcome the problem they faced?

Lastly, the ending – how does it end? What does your character learn?

You can add to the fun & creativity using story spoons. The Moffle story spoons are the characters from Tippy Moffle’s Mirror, but you can create any characters you want to. The only limits are you & your child’s imagination & concentration span. You can improvise & role play – ask questions about what the characters might be feeling or thinking & create dialogues between them.

We all have a story to tell & as Phillip Pullman says, ‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world’.

Mosaic Moffles

We found some patterned discs that we think are beautiful for creating mosaic Moffles & exploring emotions or feelings together. Here’s a Moffle stencil – if you don’t have mosaic tiles, fill it with anything shiny & bright – buttons, flowers, stones – or use colouring pens or paint. The invitation is to choose a colour for each emotion & think about where the Moffle might feel it in its body.

Children who have lived with neglect & trauma in their early lives have often missed out on good enough support to make sense of their thoughts & feelings. To learn the words for how they are feeling & to have the opportunity to talk about them. Emotional articulacy is not innate, it is a skill that needs to be practiced, within caring relationships.