Family Dinner Activity – Feelings Bowl

by Susan Schroeder, mother and Kimochis expert.

So many of us moms work outside of the home and try hard NOT to bring our work home with us. All parents (working outside the home or not!) crave sacred, uninterrupted, quality time with our children. We want to make sure we stay connected to our kids and make sure they know that we are available for them, even when we have to spend time away—at the office, on the road, on the phone, or even just on a grown-up night out.

As one of the founders and Marketing Director for Kimochis…Toys With Feelings Inside®, I’ve been pretty lucky. Bringing my work home with me has actually helped me stay connected to my kids!

When the first prototypes of the Kimochis® characters and Kimochis® feeling pillows came home with me, my two daughters (ages 7 and 4 at the time) went crazy for the cute characters—getting to know their personalities, play acting with them, dressing them up…the usual. After the initial playtime, I decided to put all of the Kimochis® feeling pillows in a bowl to store them. I could say that I planned to keep the Bowl of Feelings on the dining room table (a high traffic area), but I think it actually ended up there because I was too exhausted from my day to put it away with all the other toys. This was one time that feeling exhausted actually paid off.

At dinner, we passed the Bowl of Feelings around the table. We each picked a feeling (or two) and told a story from our day explaining why we picked that feeling.


I learned so much detail in that one activity about what my daughters’ were doing and thinking during the day. It was a big change from the usual conversation.

How was school today?


And, I realized that this simple activity gave my girls a chance to see that EVERYONE has feelings—even mom and dad—and that there are a lot of ways to handle those feelings.  How did mommy handle feeling EMBARRASSED when she forgot to send my lunch to school? When Daddy felt SILLY during a serious meeting, what did he do to get himself to sit still? Wow, Mommy and Daddy get SAD, SCARED, and SHY too sometimes?

When playground stories come up, the LEFT OUT, SHY, and MAD feelings come to the dinner table. We talk about them together and make plans for the next day. What are some FRIENDLY things we can do to get ourselves included in the highly competitive four-square game? What are some cool-down tricks (instead of hitting!) to use when we feel MAD at our sister or friend? My husband and I invite the Kimochis® characters to dinner and do crazy little role-plays to show the girls tricks for handling challenging moments. Yes, they roll their eyes at us and we usually end up laughing, but we know our girls give our tricks a try. It’s pretty rewarding when your shy child starts to keep a tally of how many kids she says, “Hi (say name / make eye contact)” to each day.

Sometimes we play feeling charades with our Bowl of Feelings to learn that there really is a difference between MAD and DISAPPOINTED. In the heat of the moment, throwing SAD, FRUSTRATED, MAD, and Make-Your-Own ANNOYED feeling pillows into your sister’s room is a lot less painful than throwing punches. At bedtime, we often tuck feelings into the character’s pouches for wishful, hopeful or loving thoughts. On the first week of school (or other challenging school days), I add LOVED, GRATEFUL, BRAVE, FRIENDLY or whatever’s appropriate to their lunchbox to let them know they can handle whatever is coming their way.

So as it turns out, two parenting “no-no’s” —bringing my work home with me and not putting the toys away—have proven to have had an amazing effect on my family!

I wonder what would happen if I left all the dirty dishes in a high traffic area? . . .

For more family communication games, fun activities, or more information about Kimochis®, visit:


Susan’s giving a reader ONE of EACH of the four Mixed Feelings Pack!! (= 24 feelings) I highly recommend you enter – we have lots of Kimochis and they really do help start important conversations. To enter, comment below with your favorite Kimochis plush.

Imagination Soup’s official giveaway rulesDeadline for entering is September 30, 2011, 11:59 EST. No purchase necessary.

Extra entries – leave comments for each:

1. “Like” Kimochis…Toys With Feelings Inside® on Facebook and then comment with how your family stays connected.  

2. Subscribe to Imagination Soup by RSS or Email and comment saying which one.

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  1. Kris says

    We would love to win! My favorite is shy. We are working with our girls on overcoming shyness and selective mutism by talking about their feelings. These would be great.

  2. Megan says

    I think that, based on looks, my son would like the cat best. However, based on personality, he would identify more with the bug. Can you tell I’ve been considering a purchase?!? :) I would love to win the feelings packs and think they would be especially helpful as we work with my HFA/Aspie son on social awareness.

  3. Bridget Sanchez says

    I love this idea. i give classes to parents on Catholic Sacraments. First Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and always ask that they do at least one dinner a week where all is unplugged except kids, parents and conversation… this is such a wonderful instrument that is educatonal and fun… productive in many aspects of family life.. I want to win!!! Great idea!!

  4. Jill says

    Kimochis look like great tools for encouraging sharing and identifying emotions! I have a very sensitive, “heart on her sleeve” child and the Mixed Emotions packs would be a wonderful to incorporate into our daily routines. I really like the Clover and think that my daughter would too. Thanks for the chance!

  5. Lara says

    These are great! We are working hard with our kids (ages 5.5, 4, 1.5) on handling their emotions… these would be great to practice naming their feelings – the first step to handling them better. Thanks!

  6. Camille says

    Hi, My favorite is FRIENDLY. Mostly because that’s what I’m working on with my kids. They are friendly kids but in Kindergarten and 1st grade, a lot of emotions seems to burst forth. Thanks!!

  7. Robin says

    Would love to win this one, my daughter likes to make faces for the mirror then talk about a time when she felt the face she was making!

  8. Elizabeth says

    What a wonderful idea! My two boys tend to answer my questions about their feelings with a nod or one word. It is very hard to get them to open up and talk a bit more. (Bit like their dad)
    I think they would really like these and it might help me to get them talking!

  9. Amber Broda says

    My favorite is mad, that is my 3 year old’s most intense emotional state. These are amazing and I would love to use them to help my kids develop EQ.

  10. says

    What a gift to be able to help little ones process & honor their feelings. As mom of a 2 & 4 year old, it can be overwhelming when their emotions run high & I’ve been wishing for a way to help them work thru it, because even I have a heard time sometimes as our family is going through a huge transition right now. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

  11. Alisha says

    I also “liked” on FB for an extra entry. We stay connected by talking about our favourite part of the day just before bed. I have 3 sons, 6,3 and 1 and i find this an important step in our day to keep the lines of communication open.

  12. Marla Ferguson says

    how fun…it is hard to guess my 4 and 2 yr. state of emotions some times…this would be a great way to communicate on their level :)

  13. Patricia says

    I would love to have a set of these in my classroom to use with my students with autism. I think this would be a great way to get conversations started in the classroom. I think Huggtopus would be my favorite as we are constantly teaching “soft touch, soft hands, etc”

  14. says

    I like Kimochi’s on FB! We bond over dinner each night but my favorite bonding is early Sunday morning when we all cuddle up in bed and watch Calilou.

  15. Dulce Hernandez says

    I like all of the Kimochi’s, I work at a school with many parents and children that would benefit, learn to express and control their feelings with them. Believe me, they will have a GREAT home if we are lucky enough to win! Thank you so much.

  16. Joan Stewart says

    Kimochis – what a great idea! We ask our son how he is feeling very often, but sometimes I feel we put words in his mouth. It would be great if he could pick out how he is feeling, unprompted and explain. Maybe he could throw a kimochi when feeling mad or frustrated, instead of yelling or stomping! I like the Octopus because it reminds me that we can have so many feelings at once. Kimochi are kimochi ii! (feel good!) 気持良い!

  17. says

    I just found this on Pinterest and I LOVE this idea! My son is still pretty young, so I’ll have to try this when he gets a bit older. Thanks!

  18. Sheryl Williamson says

    I am a counseling intern. At the agency where I work we deal with children and families that deal with some traumatic things in life. Part of the healing process is for clients especially children and families to be able to share their feelings and sometimes we have to get really creative in order for this to happen. I can see how this game can be very useful in that process.


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