We’ve started our new theme, ידידות (yedidut – friendship). It’s easier to be a friend when we’re able to talk about how we’re feeling and understand how a friend feels.
Educators wondered, What words do Nitzanimers have to describe what they’re feeling? What vocabulary do Nitzanimers have beyond “happy” and “sad?” We wanted to find out what children knew, and expand, children’s vocabulary.
In Yetzirah, we asked children for synonyms (a second grader explained the concept of “synonym” to everyone) of “happy” and “sad.” Using our new vocabulary list, children looked at five different faces from magazines and wrote down what they thought a person was feeling. (Read this blog post for a full picture of what we did.)
In Beit Nitzanim, we added a new feelings board so we could start matching our new vocabulary to feelings inside ourselves. When children enter Beit Nitzanim, they can choose magnets to describe how they’re feeling (if they’d like to share; it’s not required). Later, at pegisha (meeting time), children who put magnets on the board may share a sentence about why they chose that word to describe their feelings.
We’re seeing children identify feelings inside themselves that they hadn’t named before. Children are asking each other about their feelings. Through all of the discussions, we’re practicing talking about emotions in a nonjudgmental way, emphasizing that whatever someone feels is simply their feeling, not good or bad. Talking about our feelings in a nonjudgmental way helps us create a safe community, one in which children trust each another and so feel comfortable trying new things.