Product gifted. Review was of my own initiative.
Curly has some cool fans around the interwebs. They heard I was looking for fun strategies to help him learn about and understand how to control his emotions and to better express himself with words instead of screams, kicks or tears. So they sent him some Kimochis (said KEY.MO.CHEE).
Kimochis are unique, huggable characters designed to help introduce children to emotions and feelings in a fun, and playful way. Kimochis is Japanese for ‘feelings’, ‘moods’ or ‘sensations’ and so fall right into the theme I had already started to use when choosing videos, emotions magnetic charts, books, and my own silly grimaces.
From their action or the look on someone’s face, Curly is pretty good with identifying what a person may be feeling. For example, he seems to understand very well when I’m angry, sad or annoyed. He puts two and two together by connecting the word ‘sad’ with the facial expression (and tone in my voice) if I say “Stop it, you’re making me sad”, and that seems all fine and peachy.
The main challenge for Curly is knowing when he should be expressing himself with those same words. Simply saying new words to him, such as “I feel anxious” is not good enough when teaching a five-year-old, but showing and pointing out occurrences of these emotions when they are in that moment actually help them realise that they, too, experience these emotions and feelings.
Sometimes he chucks a fit or physically pushes people away if he is feeling a little bit overwhelmed by their constant attention or noise. This also happens when he wants to be left alone. I, too, have these moments. However, I use my words. So my goal is to help him to do the same.
Now with the Kimochis we are helping him learn to pay attention to his own feelings, moods and emotions instead of just focussing on other people’s vibes and expressions. We want to help him get in touch with his own emotions and feelings. His new Occupational Therapist is also familiar with Kimochis. She was excited to learn that Curly now has his own, and she’ll be using the set when we start therapy this month.
About the Huggtopus set
Curly received Huggtopus and her ‘feelings’ pillows: Happy, Frustrated and Silly. To help learn the corresponding words as well as the facial expressions, each Kimochi pillow carries its name on one side and the expression on the other.
Huggtopus, called so because of her six arms for big warm hugs, has a welcoming smile that even mums and dads would fall for. She is as tall as 30cm while her accompanying pillows are 15cms. The cute little pillows can be stored inside Huggtopus’ mouth at bedtime, as it’s designed to function as a pouch.
The set came with a Feel Guide to help identify one feeling at a time. It also tells the background and story of the characters, including the many other feeling pillows like Jealous, Loved, Scared, Sorry, Uncomfortable, Surprised, and Left Out.
Besides Huggtopus (Curly says the ‘Mummy’), the other protective Kimochi characters available are as follows: three male Kimochis (Cloud, Clover and Bug) and three females (Cat, Lovey Dove, and Bella Rose).
The How to Feel guide book describe the characters as if they have ‘proper’ human qualities with mood swings. Because children tend to use their imagination and pretend that their toys have emotions, it’s been easier than I thought to explain to Curly that the pillows at times have other emotions. This way, the set has been a great tool in helping Curly connect with Huggtopus and her feeling pillows.
What I think of the Kimochis
Curly won’t let me keep them on me for long. However, I’ve hugged them a few times and they felt nice in my arms and very squishable.
Huggtopus is the right size for Curly’s little arms and lap. The little feelings pillows are as cute and easily handled. I can hold one with one hand and place it in front of my face to show Curly my feelings when I’m happy, frustrated or want to be silly.
The bunch fit into his school backpack if we want to take them out and about. They don’t feel fragile, and seem well-sewn. I don’t see any small pieces that could pose a danger to small children. However, they are most suitable for children aged 3 years and up.
The Kimochis website provides resources that I can use to assist me with ideas. The Kimochis and available resources are also good for teachers, parents and carers.
What I would’ve liked
If the set came with a storage bag it would have scored 100% with me because then the Kimochis would be kept from dust. A bag would also provide space for when I buy more feelings, and make it easy for Curly to take them out the door when he goes to visit his Nanny and Grandad.
Should you buy it?
Absolutely. If it’s helping my son, it can help your child as well. I highly recommend the Kimochis for children struggling to express their feelings. Parents can also use the set to teach how to role-play and to tell made-up stories. Suitable for children aged 3 years and up.
Meet the fantastic Kimochis at www.kimochis.com.au, where you can also find a list of stockists.
What I’m hoping to find next to help build on Curly’s learning
I have noticed that when we use the I-say-it-you-repeat tactic with the Kimochis, Curly tends to learn new phrases faster. I think that’s because phrases like “I’m sad!” are repeated to him each time we play, and therefore he’s allowed to practise the pronunciation. I’m yet to find educational or special needs toys that repeat such useful phrases that a child can use in real life and that can help empower him so he can become more verbal. Yes I can find figurines or toddler books that scream lines from movies, but it would be great if we could find some toys with built-in audio à la Learn to Speak [insert language here]-style.
Disclaimer: Kimochis approached me seeking a mention on the blog // I was about to email my husband the link to their website to get a nod from him so that I could order the Huggtopus when they sent a second email offering Curly his own Kimochis set! // Curly was full of emotions when he saw me pull them out of the box. // Reviews on SillyMummy.com are 100% my own opinion.