Sometimes feelings get…all tangled up. This can be confusing and sometimes we need help untangling them and sorting them all out. Enter “The Color Monster” by Anna Llenas! This book is AMAZING and as I talk about here and here bibliotherapy is such a wonderful practice that is so adaptable to provide as a therapeutic approach in all sorts of settings – office, in home, at school, and of course Tele-Play!
This book is a wonderful story about a “Color Monster” who is full of mixed up colors and emotions. A little girl takes the monster by the hand and gently helps the Color Monster untangle and separate out all of these feelings and put them into jars.
The level of compassion in this book is SO wonderful. One of my favorite things to tell young people is that feelings aren’t good or bad – they are just our bodies way of letting us know what is going on in the world around us! For a lot of the littles (and teens too) that we work with there can be a lot of judgement that comes with anger and a portion of the therapeutic work can go towards decreasing shame about this real, normal, human emotion. This makes sense as to why my most favorite line in the book is “Sometimes, you want to take out your anger on others. But I’ll be nice to you, Color Monster, and your anger will disappear!”. My heart just melts on this page!
The book also emphasizes being able to feel and honor whatever feeling comes up and tell us that it is OK to feel all of these feelings, it is okay to listen to our bodies, and it is okay to cry! So powerful, especially for young people who often get flooded and want to repress feelings.
Another thing that is just fantastic about this book is the use of metaphor. It compares anger to a fire you might want to stomp out, sadness to a rainy day, and calm like leaves swaying in the wind. If you are doing any sort of metaphor work with kids this is a GREAT book to get the wheels turning!
When I am reading this with young people after I will pause, ask them what they noticed, and most of the time go into a Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy activity about feeling identification and levels! I have included a free download of these worksheets HERE! I had so much fun creating these printables and thank goodness for all the Amazon packages I have been getting lately - there was no shortage of cardboard for this project!
So, after we read the book I have them select colors (up to eight - but let's be honest you could add more boxes and print a duplicate of the feelings jar page if you needed more) and color code and write in what feelings came up for them today or in the week using The Color Monster Check In download. The book identifies five feelings of happy, sad, angry, fearful, and calm, but I wanted to make sure if other feelings came up there would be space for them so I included eight.
One thing to notice is how the feelings are being drawn. As opposed to a color your heart activity (where the feelings are separate) the Color Monster’s feelings can be mixed up. Are some feelings darker (like pressed down harder when drawing) and what feeling are more prevalent? Do some feelings have just one line and are there obvious feelings that are missing? Do the feelings spill out of the color monster and onto the rest of the page? These are all great things to notice and process along with how it feels in their bodies when the feelings are mixed up, any thoughts that might come up for the Color Monster, and the choices the monster may make when feeling all mixed up! Oh, it is also a fantastic externalizing technique!
The next sheet is all about taking time to separate out and honor each feeling. With the My Feeling Jar worksheet you can clearly identify each feeling experienced and how much of each feeling. You can go deeper with young people and identify triggers, how they felt it in their bodies, warning signs of these feelings, and choices that might be helpful vs unhelpful to honor what is going on for them over the week.
This exercise is also a great tracking technique. If you engage in this activity with clients periodically how does their Color Monster change over time? What about levels or ranges of feelings? Does their emotional literacy increase where they could initially name three feelings, but now it’s five?
Now, although this activity is for younger children, teens also have tangled up emotions too! The teen version of this? This fantastic Tangled Ball of Emotions Download you can snag HERE from Sources of Strength. I have been using this drawing activity for a prompt of how teens feel currently and having them fill out a second for how they desire to feel. From that point we can spring board off into processing how to get from here to there!
Here’s hoping this activity brings you and your clients some superpowers to help untangle those messy, chaotic, and confusing feelings!
Want more training on how to use Bibilotherapy in your Play Therapy practice? Check out this training HERE!
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5/4/2020 04:14:11 am
Love this its always my check in book with children in therapy.
7/22/2020 11:56:11 pm
This looks fab please could i have a copy
12/21/2020 02:31:53 pm
That is one of the worst free downloads I have ever seen. A template would have made much more sense. I really hope you aren't going to spam my inbox for that. Not worth it at all.
1/29/2021 05:05:55 pm
I agree, no template just a photo .
2/1/2021 05:56:27 am
Hi Erin! Can you tell me more about what a "template" would be? I try to be very transparent with what is in the free download and include a picture of both of the worksheets - again to be as transparent in what is included in this free download.
3/1/2021 06:49:43 am
Is it possible to have actual PDFs of these documents and not just photos, please?
3/1/2021 07:52:49 am
Hi Lisa! I might need a little more information.
12/1/2021 08:48:18 am
Right now they just appear as pictures of each page and the monster is on the top half of one page, while the jars are on the bottom half of the same page. It would be more helpful if these printables were on separate pages with a landscape layout. That way, they would be bigger. It would also be more helpful if you provided a copy of the original document instead of a picture of the document. When the picture turned into a PDF is printed, it doesn't look as clean as a copy would.
12/1/2021 10:01:38 am
Hi Jenn! So when I open the document in Google Docs and when I open my PDF copy there are three pages. One is the intro but each of the handout sections has their own page (ie Color Monster is fully on one page and the jars are fully on another). I have tried this on multiple computers so I am thinking the way that it downloaded for you is an individual computer issue (ie both of the worksheets should not be on the same page and are not when I access my copy). You can feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for me to send the PDF directly to you!
9/8/2022 07:08:16 am
I think what she means is the original copy of the monster and bottles that our clients/students can cut out themselves and create on their own. All we can do is print off a copy of your monster that's a picture of your created sheet. Also, an original with the "How are you feeling today" so our students can glue the monster onto and the original "My Feelings Jars" sheet that our students can glue the bottles onto. Does that make sense? I'd like these original templates as well. What you sent looks like a great picture of the resource, but the actual sheets that our students can use would help a lot.
9/8/2022 02:28:34 pm
Hi Dena! So (see above) the document is housed on my Google Drive as a PDF and then can be downloaded in PDF form. The PDF is meant to be printed off by the therapist (or client if virtual) and drawn directly on in the therapy session to be used with the book.
Michelle Anne Smith
3/2/2021 10:09:53 am
Thank you Ann for taking the time to create and share this free resource. I really appreciate it!
3/3/2021 04:40:30 pm
I love this book It was on a list of suggested books when I was taking my early childhood education classes. Now that i found this site I downloaded the worksheets and activity. I am sure my pre schoolers will love it thank you
6/3/2021 09:40:14 am
Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and these resources!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,