Here, I am curious to know how the child is feeling? What do they hope for the future? Maybe it's time to review contact arrangements. Maybe the children have the option to return home or live with extended family? Maybe you just want to touch base? Whatever the reason, the blobs series have really helped me along the way in not only engaging and connecting with children, but more importantly, opening up the dialog enabling you to really hear what the child has to say.
Blob Tree was created by Pip Wilson (Group worker and trainer) and Ian Long (artist) and between them both, come up with an inspiring, fun and engaging tool that promotes both communication and Emotional Literacy.
The really great thing about the Blob series for me, is that it does not have to be limited to children. I recently qualified as a Practice Educator and this tool was used with students who were on their second and final year placements. Social Work training as you will know, is a roller coaster of emotions with peaks and troughs occurring by the hour. This tool can be used with students individually as part of supervision, during their reflection time and or as part of a group.
One of my Favourite ways to use the blobs, is to add as much colour as you can. For this, I think about the aspects of the child's life, home and family, placement, school, friends, and personality traits such as, feeling confident, or outgoing Vs shy. For me, sometimes, I want to understand just one or two of these aspects whereas other times, I want to try and focus on it all. This for me, is usually around the time of Looked After Children's Reviews to ensure the child's voice and needs remain at the centre of the meeting.
For one young child I recently worked with, we choose to explore their feelings in relation to contact with their birth family. For this, I gave a series of opening sentences to which the child would need to complete;
- When I know contact is approaching, I feel.........
- When I am at contact with (.......) I feel......
- How I feel about my contact location (community/ contact centre/ family home)
- If contact was increased, i would feel......
- If contact was decreased I would feel......
In addition, the child would answer each question in a different colour and then circle or colour in the blobs that would represent that sentence.
The really great news about this is, you can tailor it to your child. You know them the best and this can really work to your advantage when trying to understand the child's world.
When working with children to support their understanding of emotions, Blob Tree can offer scope for discussion around their expressions and how the blobs may be feeling. Children may be able to give examples of situations that may lead to that specific feeling. Perhaps your child likes keeping their hands busy, so can you cut them out and stick them into categories of different feelings or emotions? Perhaps your child simply enjoys colouring, or using glitter....... You really can get creative with these Blob, as little or a much mess as you and your child can make.
Fortunately for us all, there is now an entire series of Blob resources from books to flashcards, all which offer support with emotions and feelings. There is also a set of flashcards for teenagers. I've enclosed the link here which will take you to the main page for all resources via Amazon.