The Feelings Parking Lot is a great tool to use with kids to both identify the feelings they are experiencing and to discuss different coping mechanisms that can help with those emotions. On top of that, it’s always fun to play with Matchbox Cars.
Here’s how to build it:
- On a large piece of paper, poster board or foam board, draw a series of lines on either side to create “parking spaces.” Leave some space between the space for a driving area. Have fun decorating your parking area.
- On one side of the parking lot, write the name of one emotion in each parking space. We also includes a simple emoji for each emotion to help younger kids who may not be able to read the emotion names (a list of the emotion names we used is included below, but you can use whatever emotions you want to include).
- On the other side, write various coping mechanisms kids can use to deal with difficult emotions (again, the list of coping tools we used are listed below). Depending on how artistic you are, feel free to draw pictures representing the coping skill to help younger kids.
You can use the feelings parking lot one-on-one with an individual child, leave it out as an emotional “check in” for a group of kids at the beginning of a class or group with an adult to talk through the process, or just leave it out for the kids to explore and play with themselves.