Exploring Feelings Through Interactive Play

Exploring Feelings Through Interactive Play

Feelings. We all have them. Some of us show out much more than others when expressing them. What about our children? What is your child's level of emotional intelligence? Do you feel confident that he/she is prepared to identify and express/manage their emotions when in situations that perhaps you will not be present for? 

It is a tough world out there. As Occupational Therapists, the amount of referrals we receive for difficulties in the areas of social-emotional skills has sky-rocketed. In recent studies, it was found that 22% of children between the ages of 3-17 will have one or more of the common mental, emotional, and behavioral health conditions that are assessed. 

We have gotten pretty good at preparing our children to excel in areas of academics, art, or athletics. But what about ensuring our child is prepared emotionally for disappointment, loss, friendships, failure, success, and so much more? I feel pretty confident that if our emotional foundation is dented or broken, it will not matter if your child receives oodles of scholarships for their academic success, gets the top rating musically, or wins the state championship. They will suffer the consequences of struggling either outwardly or silently with their mental health.

Our April 2024 Big Play in a Box is themed around Exploring Feelings. We believe it is just that important. Giving your child the gift of emotional security and the tools to decipher when and how they can manage those feelings as they mature, is likely one of the biggest gifts we can ever provide. 

Here is what is inside:


Each of our activity boxes includes a full-sized children's book. We felt Foodie Faces was the perfect introduction to our approach to hands-on learning into emotions. While reading it and giggling at the creations the authors made using common food items, it becomes even more valuable when attempting to re-create the pictures in your home. 

Did you know that picky eaters benefit greatly from interacting with non-preferred foods in a safe and fun manner? Often those who are struggling to expand their diets have sensory sensitivities that limit their ability to see, touch, hear (crunch, crunch), smell, or taste food. Providing playful interactions with food can decrease the anxiety surrounding trying new things and desensitize the reasons behind the struggle. 

Either way, reading this book together allows you to discuss feelings, non-verbal expressions, and situations in which one may feel like the emotion depicted on each page. 


All About Me Feelings Activity Set is a comprehensive and extremely open-ended manner in which to explore feelings. 54 colorful people are included with 6 various emotions. The extension ideas of this brilliant toy are endless! Work on color sorting, counting, identifying emotions, dominoes, or pretend play. Slip in the included picture cards for gaining increased emotional intelligence. Throw the people into a sensory bin and watch your kids interact. I have used these recently in multiple venue events that I have attended. It has been crazy fun to watch the different ways the kids have played with this incredible toy from Learning Resources. 

Our Feelings Otie Game was created by none other, than myself, the owner/founder of Big Play in a Box. It is jam-packed with two separate games with 80 questions to creatively use with your child to learn more about one another, identify feelings, problem-solve together on how to muddle through sticky situations, as well as discuss how to get through some of those BIG feelings. Play it in the format of a board game. Take the questions along for a long car ride. Throw the questions along with the cute feelings guys from above into a sensory bin and you and your child will be able to have some very meaningful (as well as entertaining) conversations. This is a tool that can be helpful for the whole family. 


Here at Big Play in a Box, we are FIRM believers in sensory play! As an OT, I have witnessed thousands of times how introducing sensory play in some format can change emotions instantly. It allows those who have a difficult time focusing to engage in an activity for a longer time. It opens up those who are feeling shy. It calms those who are having some big feelings. It desensitizes those who have a difficult time touching. It provides a safe spot for kids to talk, increase their communication, and practice the art of a conversation with peers and/or adults. This quarter we added colored rice to our activity box. Either throw it in the box that your play came in or find a nice-sized plastic container with a lid to store in when you or your child needs some uninterrupted play time.

Are you concerned the rice will end up everywhere? Well, it could. However, preparing by taking the box outside will help. Are you hopeful to keep it indoors? Lay down a large flat sheet or tablecloth and place your sensory play in the middle. Giving your child a visual of where the rice is to remain will help as well. 

Each quarter we try to provide a take-n-go sensory kit to add to your collection of tools. This quarter we created a Spring addition. Our Slimy Sand is an extremely addicting form of kinetic sand. It is not nearly as messy as typical kinetic sand as it sticks together and stretches for so much tactile satisfaction. Included are silicon molds to create additional spring scenes with, 2 spring critter finger puppets, and a small bracelet kit to create an adorable project with. Heading to Grandma's house? Bring the kit! It will surely be a hit!


Crafts allow time for creativity, and the development of fine motor, cognitive, and visual skills. They also provide a means for people who struggle with emotional health to decompress and take their minds off of stressful situations. Instilling outlets such as projects when your child is young will continue to benefit them as they mature and discover other means of hobbies or activities that provide them with outlets. 

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks? This fun and honestly quite miraculous project will delight any age. We give you the tools to create this adorable and useful feelings tree. (Minus the nature walk to gather the perfect fallen limb). Use it as a centerpiece on your kitchen counter or table. Discuss your day by grabbing a representation of it based on these adorable little emojis. You will have created memories and discussions that will benefit all of you!

Kwik Stix Paint Markers plus a few other unique add-ins are included as the last project in this quarter's box. If you have not discovered these paint sticks, you all will be in for a treat. I feel they glide onto paper like if you were to paint with lipstick. So smooth! In the past, I have used a similar brand, but they honestly, made such a mess on the kids, their clothes, etc. that I stopped using them. However, this brand dries within 15-30 seconds and leaves no residue behind. 

Drawing, scribbling, or writing with a variety of tools spices up paper/crayon tasks. Many children and adults use coloring as a form of decompressing as well. Hence, the multitude of adult coloring books out there. Included in our directions is guidance on extension activities to use with the included stand-up figures to assist with your social-emotionally engaging activities. 

Whew! That is a box filled to the brim with goodness that can be brought out for months and months when you have a rainy day, need to discuss some tough topics, longing for some peace to drink a cup of coffee, or just because. 

Upon writing this, we have a few of these boxes left. If you want to get in on this opportunity to impact how your child manages their emotions through creative and engaging play, this is your opportunity. Take a look HERE.

Back to blog

Leave a comment