The Worrywarts
by Pamela Duncan Edwards

lesson ideas
& activities

The Worrywarts 

Lesson Idea: Worry Dolls
(idea from Jennifer L, 1st grade teacher)

Jennifer says: "A few years ago, I went to Guatemala on vacation and discovered that they have a tradition of giving 'worry dolls' to young children to help them deal with their worries. The tradition says that if you tell one of the little dolls a worry, that doll will worry for you so that you don't have to. Mostly it's used at night--children tell the doll their troubles to help them sleep soundly. I bought 

some worry dolls and brought them home.

worry dollsIn first grade, we have a unit on emotions, and worrying is a big one for children this age (all ages, probably). I read The Worrywarts aloud to my students (they like it!) and then we discuss how they deal with their worries. I then share the Guatemalan dolls and share that strategy. What I try to reinforce is that this works because when you are worried, it helps to talk to someone who cares. The children tell their dolls their worries, and that helps them feel better. I don't necessarily have the kids make their own worry dolls, or encourage them to adopt this tactic, but my message is:

worrying is a normal thing, people all over the world worry about things
 (2) sharing your worries can help (like the Guatemalan worry dolls)
 (3) confronting your worries helps you overcome them (like the characters in the story)."

(We found this picture of worry dolls online, and Jennifer confirmed that these are exactly like the Guatemalan dolls she uses in her classroom. If you'd like to show this picture by photographer Leena to your students in your own classroom, you can find a bigger version here.

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