By: Elyse Jacobs
A recent New York Times article featured an article about the Dalai Lama commissioning Dr. Paul Eckman to create a map of the emotions.
“When we wanted to get to the New World, we needed a map. So make a map of emotions so we can get to a calm state,” the Dalai Lama told Dr. Ekman, consulting psychologist for Pixar’s Inside Out, according to the New York Times.
The interactive map for this Atlas of Emotions consists of the five core emotions expressed in the children’s movie: fear, anger, disgust, sadness and enjoyment.*
Fear is an emotion we grapple with throughout our lives. Much aggressive behavior is motivated by suppressed fear. Learning to name it without loss of power and finding appropriate ways to express it is an important tool of peace.
On week six the Spooky Show of my last blog moved into a new phase while keeping the theme of fear. The children spontaneously made themselves into scary characters from movies or their imaginations. Darth Vader and zombies were among those that came to life in Expressive Arts with only paper, tape and oil pastels. The spark was lit when one child covered himself in construction paper. The idea spread through the room with the fire of great laughter and fun.
Being able to play out their fears, to become what scares them, is very empowering for children. They became comfortable with their fears by playing with them. Play, along with exploration, investigation and inquiry, is how children learn. Learning to express and manage fears at a young age benefits the learner and those they interact with. Having a fun and interactive way to develop this tool of peace grounds the learning.
In Getting Ready for the Show, I made suggestions on setting up an area for ongoing prop and costume making; paper of different textures and colors, scissors, markers, oil pastels and colored masking tape. Having a ‘treasure chest’ of loose parts such as old earrings, beads, special buttons, trim, stickers, etc. adds spark and excitement to their art-making.
Upon completion of a character, the children might want to have a parade to show their costumes to other children or classes. This allows young children to present their art without an actual performance. It also is a catalyst that entices others to join in the fun, making costumes and creating characters of their own. The costumes may then become motivation for creating improvisations.
Update: Today, I heard whispers that the original Spooky Show was being revived. I noticed that the focus was on the audience. Out came the popcorn bags filled with corks and string. The children used long pieces of rope, patiently cut, to cordon off an area for the audience. And then just as I thought they might take a step past getting ready for the show, it was time for the second group of children.
Lots of "Aww"s echoed through the Expressive Arts Room but observing the children's facial expressions I could recognize that some of the children were secretly relieved.
For young children, the fun was in the process of creating. Bringing their own creative ideas to life was where they found joy. Getting ready for the show was more than enough for them.