Following the positive response of “Five Ways To Use Tissue Boxes in Counseling,” I wanted to share additional ways I use crafts in my therapy practice. Because brown lunch bags are inexpensive, easily accessible, and inspire creativity, they have been my go to for child play therapy. I have narrowed down my list of therapeutic uses into five projects that may be used in groups, individual sessions, and/or even in the classroom.
The Mindless Monster
is a creature that keeps our mind focused on regrets and worries. He steals our attention from the present and provokes careless behaviors. The good news is the Mindless Monster can be tamed with Mindfulness strategies to be fed through his paper bag mouth. After crafting the monster, encourage children to feed their monster with Mindfulness reminders, such as noteworthy index cards or personalized objects. Some examples include flowers, rocks, quotes, chocolate, pictures, or other sensory items discovered from a mindfulness scavenger hunt. In the moment of mindlessness, children may be invited to reach inside the monster’s mouth to choose a strategy and practice mindfulness.
1 paper bag (cut a hole towards the top)
Optional: Decorative crafts
The Separated Homes
is an activity for children of separation or divorce. Simply decorate the outside of lunch bags to look similar to both of their parent’s home. Use the bags as a play therapy tool to promote therapeutic play, or include note cards that share thoughts, feelings, and memories, to be placed inside the bags.
Suggested Note Card Prompts:
- How do I feel living here?
- How we spend time together?
- What do I do by myself?
- What I feel like here?
- What do I wish about this house?
- How we show love here?
- How we fight here?
- How we make up here?
- How do we talk to each other?
- What do I worry about here?
- What am I angry about here?
- What my room looks like?
- What am I happy about here?
- How often I live here?
- How often I wish I lived here?
- What does my other parent think about this house?
- What I miss most about my other house?
- What I do when I miss my other parent?
- Who takes care of me here?
- Where is my safe place here?
- Favorite memories here?
- Uncomfortable memories here?
- Who keeps me company here?
The Giving Tree
is a fun way to introduce gratitude and kindness. Start by cutting 3 inches off the top of a paper bag and then cut 3 inches of strips from the top of the bag. Flatten the bag before you write, “My Giving Tree” on the front of the bag. Next, take out your green construction paper and cut 3-inch strips on the right side. Use a marker to write what you are grateful for or how you show kindness on each strip. Use as many separate pages of green paper as you need. Then, place the construction paper inside the bag with the left side facing down. Gently squeeze the neck of the tree and tug the green strips in between the brown paper bag strips. After the children share their personal examples, have them gift it to someone special, or display it in a location they would benefit from a gratitude or kindness reminder.
1 paper bag
Green construction paper
Sharpie or markers
Optional: paper, tape, glue, ruler
My Anger Volcano
helps children identify personal signs of anger and coping strategies. Start by cutting 5 inches off the top of a paper. Flatten the bag before you write, “My Anger Volcano” on the front. Next, take out your red construction paper and cut 3-inch strips on the right side. Use a marker to write down your signs of anger, (i.e. crying, making a fist, heart racing). Repeat the same steps for your yellow construction paper, although write down ways you can cool down when you are angry (i.e. deep breaths, taking space, asking for help). Use as many pages of construction paper as needed. Then, place the construction paper inside the bag with the left side facing down. Gently squeeze the top of the brown bag and tug the red strips in between the yellow strips. Invite the children to share their examples. For extra fun, have the children blindly point to or rip off one of the strips to role play the coping skills solution.
1 paper bag
Yellow and red construction paper
Sharpies or markers
Optional: paper, tape, glue, ruler
My Grief Journal
is a helpful tool to hold the memories of a loved one. Lay five brown bags on top of each other and fold them in half. In the middle of the bag, punch two holes ¾ of an inch from the top and bottom. Loop a string through the holes to bind the journal together. If preferred, you may use each bag for a separate topic, such as, “things I miss,” “things I wish you knew,” “my favorite memories,” “how I want to remember you,” “years,” or “love notes.” Decorate the bag with craft supplies. Use the opening of bags to place pictures or other memories by topic. Use a mini clothes pin to secure items placed inside the openings. This activity can be used simultaneously with therapeutic discussion and other grief resources.
5 paper bags
Markers or colored pencils
Tape or glue
Optional: Mini clothes pins, Craft supplies