The kids huddled around me as I opened the game and examined all the pieces, which included a large variety of magnet eyes and mouths of different expressions, a mirror, some pads of paper, pencils, a bunch of cards and a bag of Silly Bands.
Fighting over the game pieces ensued and I almost had to put the game away while I refereed the fight. The irony of my kids fighting over a game aimed to teach social awareness was not lost on me. Still, this can actually be seen as an endorsement of the game; my kids were so excited to check out the game, they had no patience for sharing or taking turns.
The game is a kind of mix of charades and Pictionary. A player chooses a card which has a picture on it. The players need to decide how the situation depicted on the card would make the player (whose turn it is) feel. They then either draw a picture of the emotion on a pad or they choose magnet eyes and a mouth that would illustrate their chosen emotion.
At first glance, I thought the game might be too simple for my kids. After all, they are a bit older, and we have already spent a great deal of time working on identifying emotions with my son. I was wrong, though. This game had so much room for variation. First of all, the emotions depicted on the magnets were much more varied than I would have expected. Included are silly, calm, and confused and other emotions I hadn’t ever thought to cover with my kids.
Also, there are so many opportunities to talk with your kids about the different emotions. What surprised me was that at times, my kids had wildly different opinions about the pictures. For example, one picture is of a child whispering in another’s ear. My daughter thought that was fun, while my son was freaked out by it. He absolutely hates people whispering or coming at all close to his ears. This gave us a chance to discuss that people have different feelings often over the very same situations. I think it helped my kids see things from each other’s perspective, and that is always a good thing.
It also occurred to me that this might be a great game to play with extended family. My kids’ cousins and other relatives could get a better picture of how certain situations affect them, especially with both my kids having SPD. Another example was a kid screaming at another kid. This situation would totally terrify my daughter, who is extremely sensitive to noise. Talking about this with other family members or friends might help them gain a better understanding of what it’s like to live with SPD, which is an unexpected bonus of this game.
Other times, we were able to discuss not only how a person would feel in a particular situation, but also what they should do if confronted by, say a bully at school. I liked that the game encouraged a lot of great conversations about feelings. It is sometimes difficult to have regular conversations about emotions, especially with my autistic son. Playing this game made those conversations seem much more natural and less threatening.
I would recommend this game for any family who is looking for a fun way to discuss emotions and emotional situations.