This post comes from Jenny Knappenberger, an art teacher and very good friend of Gina Wilson from All Things Algebra!
Emotion Sensory Bottles:
Recently I watched the movie, Inside Out with my daughter (who is 3) – okay, who am I kidding, we’ve watched it MANY times. I truly think this movie is genius. It’s like a college course on emotions, our brain, memory and dreams all rolled into the perfect movie for kids and their parents. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t worry, I don’t have any “spoiler alerts.” However, the movie is about how each and every one of our emotions is important. We NEED all of our emotions – they protect us and help us in different ways. Children should be validated for the emotions they have. How they react to their emotions is a different thing. For kids to be told to “brush it off” or “suck it up” and not have a particular emotion is unhealthy for the child.
As a mom to a toddler and as an art teacher, I found there to be many valuable teaching points for discussion and activities from this movie. My daughter and I started talking about creating the characters from this movie in different ways. After seeing something on Pinterest with different colors of water bottles we decided to see what we could come up with. You’ll find the full tutorial in this blog post on how we created different color sensory water bottles for the “emotions” represented by the characters in the movie.
Supplies: Clear water bottles, liquid watercolor paint or food coloring, beads, buttons, glitter, permanent marker, silly eyes and anything else that is small, shiny and colorful that could fit in the bottles. This is a great time to look through little junk drawers for knick knacks in shades of red, blue, yellow, green and purple.
Each emotion is represented by a color so you’ll want to have beads, buttons, glitter and paint in these colors: red (anger), blue (sadness), yellow (joy), green (disgust) and purple (fear).
Whatever supplies you have collected, have your child or students sort them by color. For example if you have a big box of buttons first let them sort them into the 5 colors. They could do this by putting them right into the correct bottles or in piles. Then do the same with the beads and any other small objects you are adding. Kids will use their fine motor skills to pick up the small objects and then put them in the small opening at the top of the bottle. They also will work on sorting – which they love to do. They’ll have to predict if certain button sizes will fit through the opening of the bottle and then test it to see if they were correct or not. You’ll have great conversations about “what color” a certain button is – as most buttons are not a pure hue but rather a shade or tint of a color. Children will enjoy deciding what color the button most looks like. If you are adding glitter to your bottles you’ll do that at the end to keep the mess down and save your sanity.
After the child has included everything they want to include in the five different colored bottles, then add a few drops of the appropriately colored liquid water color or food coloring. If you only have primary colors (red, blue, yellow), don’t fret, you can mix blue and yellow to make green, and red and blue to make purple. Just add an equal number of drops of each color to the appropriate bottle.
Now the magic! Add water to each one – being careful not to overflow the bottle and lose the contents. You could pre-measure water (depending on the age of your child/student) and turn this part into a volume measuring activity. However you decide to go about it, fill each water bottle to the top and place the cap on (TIGHTLY), and shake. Super sparkly and fun – and sure to bring gasps of delight (from you and your child)!
You will now have 5 beautiful bottles of colored water with hidden buttons, gems and glitter inside of them. The sounds the objects make in the bottles also add to the sensory experience. Kids will enjoy shaking them to mix up the contents and then looking for the objects inside. If you stopped here you’d have a really great activity. But if you’d like to make a direct connection to the five characters of Inside Out – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust then you can do we did…
Every emotion has a facial expression. Have the discussion about facial expressions. How do our eyebrows look when we are angry? Or sad? Or mad? Kids will eagerly demonstrate each emotion to you on their face if you ask them to. My toddler was too little to draw the faces on each bottle but she could certainly tell me how “happy” looks and how “sad” looks. Depending on the age of the kids or, if siblings are involved, you can decide together what type of eyes and mouth each character should have to properly represent their emotion. I decided to write the names of the characters on the bottle since we are working with letter recognition lately. This is what we ended up with…
Since emotions are such an important part of who we are as people this activity is a great way to connect a sensitive subject like our emotions to the developmental skills a child needs like fine motor skills, decision making, predicting, color recognition, sorting, etc. Parents, teachers and guidance counselors could do so many things with this. I know in my house when my daughter is mad she’ll say things like, “Anger is in my head and I can’t get him out!” This is a great invitation for her father and I to talk about WHY anger is there and what she can do about it.
Long before I saw this movie, I introduced the students in my art classes to art and emotions by playing music that invoked different feelings and had them paint or color based on the emotions they felt from the music. I created a power point slide show for this activity and I’ve made it available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for FREE. If interested, you can grab a copy of this power point HERE.
Thanks for reading.
Jenny Knappenberger is an award-winning educator who has taught art to middle school, elementary school and gifted children in Virginia and in Arizona. Jenny is the author of www.jennyknappenberger.com and the owner of Art with Jenny K. Jenny creates original art related resources that foster creativity and collaboration in the art room, regular classroom and at home!