Hello there, I would like to introduce you to My Mood Stars!
My Mood Stars are 8 plush stars depicting different emotions, a perfect resource for PSED, Communication and Understanding The World. The stars can pop on and off their own ‘My Mood Stars board’ to extend play and help develop hand/eye coordination. Not only are they great props for story sacks, creating endless story but they encourage understanding and empathy.
It was whilst childminding that I came up with the idea for My Mood Stars. I had some resources that covered the three areas of learning above, but there was nothing on the market that was in an affordable price range that was tactile, cuddly and innovative. So I decided that I would make some. I bought some felt and sewed facial expressions onto cut out stars, which then created the eight emotions; sad, silly, surprised, shy, cross, scared, sleepy and happy. There were originally only seven stars, as I didn’t consider “sleepy” a mood or emotion, but so many children replied as I asked “What mood are you in today?” that they were “sleepy” so I had to include it.
They covered those areas of learning as well as providing soft, safe and tactile toys for the children to play with. I found that the Mood Stars helped children recognise their feelings, as well as those of others, by learning the names of the mood and expression on each Mood Star. I first introduced Cross Star to the children when the minded children would drop their cutlery on the floor. It used to drive me to distraction and I'd grab Cross Star and shake it at the children who then fell about laughing!
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As I observed the children playing with the stars, I soon noticed that they began to develop empathy with Sad and Shy Star consoling them in their imaginary play which in turn helped them to come to terms with how they were feeling. With the help of the Mood Stars, communication with the children became easier. Children were able to relate to the star that expressed the mood that they were in at any particular time.
The Mood Stars quickly then became part of the children’s everyday routines. Sleepy Star was often carried to bed at nap time, Sad Star would be cuddled when Mum and dad left for the day and Happy Star was sometimes handed to me just to say “I’m feeling happy!”
They are perfect props for story sacks:
"Happy Star walks to school then falls over....Oh dear. How do you think he's feeling?"
"In the class the teacher says that the class have to talk about their weekend. He doesn't like speaking in front of the class, how is he feeling?"
"He stands in front of the whole class but can't talk. Why Not?"
The teacher sits next to him which boosts his confidence. How is he feeling now?
The children’s parents would ask me to make sets of My Mood Stars for them to use at home as a useful learning tool, a way of de-stressing night time routines and for behaviour incentives.
They were particularly effective for the non-verbal children in the setting as it gave them a way to expressive their feelings without talking, reducing stress. Because of their appeal from parents, I set about getting My Mood Stars manufactured. As I carried out my market research, it became apparent that a board for children to have in their room or play area would be a useful accessory.
I wanted to avoid scratchy hook and loop type substance on the soft stars so I invented a board made from a gentle form of hook and loop material onto which the stars could pop on and off. The sensory experience of this was an added benefit that the children can enjoy.
What also became clear, through my test and from parents of children on the autism spectrum, was that these children need more help than others recognising facial expressions and facial clues. They then find social situations difficult because of this, which is where my Mood Stars came in. I got a lot of feedback from parents of autistic children, saying that the simplicity of the stars’ facial expressions allow these children simply to focus on the expression on the face of the stars which would help with their social development.
Want to buy a set of Mood Stars?
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More about me
The whole My Mood Stars project has produced a lovely toy, as well as a highly useful learning tool and with no small parts, safe for children of all ages.
Please follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and visit my website for a free ‘Games to Play’ download and a video of me talking about My Mood Stars.