Just as learning the alphabet is the basic building block for young people reading and writing, emotional “literacy” is the foundation for perceiving and communicating emotions and thus establishing healthy relationships.
For five years, retired educator Andréa Martin has been rallying Coalition volunteers and teachers to help 2nd graders throughout the County explore and express their feelings.
The bedrock of the Coalition’s Feelin’ Groovy campaign is a lesson plan using Janan Cain’s award-winning book, The Way I Feel. Cain’s beautifully illustrated and zany characters soar, sniffle, and shriek their way through joy, disappointment, boredom, and anger, providing wonderful material for classroom discussion about expressing emotions.
Students then design a bookmark illustrating feelings of their choice. Students at Chariho Vo-Tech School print one bookmark from each school, which are then distributed to participating schools and local libraries. To see the 2012 student bookmark designs, click here.
Martin says, “My favorite Feelin’ Groovy story is about Max, whose design was chosen for publication one year. His classmates lined up to have their bookmarks autographed by him.”
During the month of May – Mental Health Month) – Coalition volunteers conduct Celebrations of Feelings in schools.
Feelin’ Groovy is growin’
When launched in 2008, 15 classrooms in eight schools participated. This year, the number of classrooms more than doubled to 31 in 12 schools from Hope Valley to Block Island. Second graders in 31 classrooms from 12 schools participated. All in all, over the past 5 years, some 2,500 students have been involved in Feelin’ Groovy.
“I want you to know how much fun my children had with this activity,” says now-retired Westerly teacher Peggy Gwaltney,.
“We read the book with much laughter and enjoyment. It also brought feelings to our writing and artwork. We made paper plate faces and wrote about our emotions. On the 100th day, we found 100 faces showing different emotions and sorted them. As a teacher, understanding emotions are important in daily living as well as for understanding those around us.”
This year, too, the Coalition encouraged local libraries to foster emotional literacy by hosting Feelin’ Groovy family events in May. Narragansett Library, for example, held a Feelin’ Groovy story hour.
Martin has special thanks for the Richmond Grange, which has donated money from their roast beef dinner to the Coalition for the past three years. The GFWC Women’s Fund has also been a key funder.
“This project would not have been possible without their help,” she reports.