Wee People, Big Feelings

//Wee People, Big Feelings

Exploring emotional literacy within settings

Starcatcher’s is Scotland’s arts and early years organisation and run inspiring creative projects across Scotland for babies, toddlers, and young children. We’re thrilled to welcome Amy Hall Gibson, Starcatchers’ Early Years Development Manager, as our guest blogger.

Starcatchers is delighted to share Wee People, Big Feelings: A Practical Guide for Early Years Practitioners, which explores the importance of story-telling and creativity in helping our youngest children express how they feel. The guide is the result of artist Skye Reynolds developing play sessions around movement and emotional regulation, with Armed Forces children in the Scots Corner Early Learning Centre near Glencorse Barracks, Penicuik.

Talking about your feelings can be useful, but what if you don’t have the words to describe how you’re feeling? We wanted to see if we could we use creative experiences to help wee ones with the emotional cycle of deployment.

Emotions often start in our bodies – stomachs churn, heads spin, legs are restless – long before we have the vocabulary to make sense of them. So, it made sense to look at creative movement and other non-verbal forms of self-expression. It was also important to recognise that emotional literacy – that is, the ability to recognise, understand, handle and express emotions, isn’t built in times of crisis. It’s a skill we build over time. Sometimes it’s about the chance to express how we feel in the moment so we can recognise it and process it, and sometimes it’s about getting the chance to “practice” lots of different feelings in a way that’s safe – and creative experiences offer fantastic opportunities for both.

The resources developed in the project are brought together in Wee People, Big Feelings. The guide and accompanying creative play kits share practical ideas for building emotional literacy through storytelling, movement and more. Looking through the guide, you will find pages packed with artistic solutions that offer you innovative ways of connecting with the young children you see every day in your setting.

“Wee People, Big Feelings tuned into ways wee ones express themselves and learn about the world – using bodies and faces, movement and music and stories. We listened to what they told us, both verbally and non-verbally. Emotional literacy is not built in times of crisis – storytelling, movement and imaginative play provide opportunities for wee ones to explore and understand emotions safely, at their own pace. By sharing the learning from this project, I hope we will be able to empower more early years settings and more families to do the same.”

Heather Armstrong, , Head of Early Years Development, Starcatchers

You can access Wee People, Big Feelings: A Practical Guide for Early Years Practitioners here:


You can access the Stories and Imaginative Play Creative Play Kit here:

You can access Wee People Big Feelings report and further resources here: