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Establishing a character with empathy is important for children. I know that as a parent the road is paved with pitfalls and possible mess-ups. I am bound to make plenty of mess-ups, because no parent is perfect, but I do believe that if my two girls can grow up to have an awareness of the needs of others, and are kind and caring in personality, then I will be the proudest parent around.
For this reason I am excited to be participating in this five part series along with four other awesome bloggers (you can see the full list at the end of this post). For my part, I have created some Empathy Dolls.
I first saw these dolls on Play School
(an Australian early learning TV show) and knew I absolutely HAD to make some. I have also seen an extremely adorable version including a spaceman and an umbrella-carrying lady at A little Learning for Two
This version I have made includes a free printable that you can cut and fold together to make the faces that slide inside your toilet roll. This is how I made them.
You will need
• A piece of heavy paper stock. Ordinary white paper is a bit too flimsy, probably the thickest that will go through your printer is best, or alternatively print on white paper and stick it to a piece of very thin board.
• A standard size toilet roll
• Scissors, craft knife and double sided tape
• Paper scraps and sharpie marker to decorate
• A piece of thick recycled cardboard for a base
Print out the free template at the end of this post
Put double sided tape on the tabs of your print out before you cut it out, it is much quicker this way (trust me!). Cut along all the lines in the bottom tab after the double sided tape is in place. Cut out the disc and also cut the centre-circle out to make a hole in the middle.
Once your pieces are cut out, roll the faces into a tube, bend the bottom tabs into a right-angle and slide the disc piece (with the hole cut in it) over the top. Cover a slightly oversized base with double sided tape and stick the disc & tube on to it, then trim to size.
Use the small circle marked "face" to trace around at the top of your toilet roll and then cut this circle out with a sharp craft knife or scalpel. The trick is to make sure it is very sharp (the kids can definitely not do this part). Mine is about 9mm from the top of the roll, but roll sizes can vary so it's best to double-check how far it needs to be on the roll you have by holding the piece with the faces next to the toilet roll and making a small mark with a pencil of where to put the face hole.
Here you have the base for your empathy doll, now all you need to do is decorate (however you like!)
Isn't she lovely?
Now it's time to play!
The kids can use the dolls to make up little stories. These stories are a bit different, because the characters have feelings just like in real life. They might go something like this ...
I'm certainly no psychology expert, but thinking about the way the dolls are feeling and acting it out might just help them along the way to understanding empathy, which is a very big word for a small child. I find that Miss R is a natural at understanding others because she is such a drama queen by nature. She will often react to everyday occurrences including highs and lows in a completely over-exaggerated way. Miss K is completely different in personality and empathy doesn't come to her as easily. She is only three, and before she can understand the feelings of others she needs to be able to understand her own feelings. These empathy dolls are a small step towards helping her do that. They both LOVED playing with them, but fought over who got the pretty girl and who had to play with the little boy.
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Be sure to check out the other posts in this series
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