A good read. School students’ research creates wellbeing book

Date 2.05.2024

A group of ‘mini researchers’ are helping children better understand their emotions after a novel research project with University of Northampton (UON) academics.

The Children Researching Wellbeing through the Arts project started in 2021 and is a collaboration between University of Northampton (UON) Education academics and children from schools in the East Midlands Academy Trust.

Guided by the academics, the children designed and carried out research about arts provision and wellbeing and evaluated its impact.

For one ‘arm’ of the research – with Castle Academy – a book was created by the students for their teachers to deliver lessons about how children can understand and explore their emotions. Called Emotibook, it covers:

  • Creativity (the book contains stickers to help customise the book according to their own unique emotions).
  • Words and language (including body language, poetry, and sign language).
  • Mapping (maths and numeracy and using these to map emotions).
  • Games (for instance, snakes and ladders).

Last week, their energies were celebrated with the unveiling of Emotibook, with students receiving a printed copy of the book and, along with their teachers, had a lesson about how to get the most from it.

Senior Lecturer in Inclusion and Special Educational Needs at UON Korrin Smith-Whitehouse was the UON teacher for the day and says: “I’ve been working with Castle Academy on this research for nearly three years, so I have a special relationship with the children. It was wonderful to reaffirm this bond as we saw Emotibook as a real thing the children enjoy reading and using.

“You might not think of children as researchers but, as my colleagues and I found during this project, they can be analytical, creative, intuitive, and passionate about inquiry and methodology, all the hallmarks of adult researchers.

“The next stage of the research is to evaluate the project as a whole and how effective Emotibook is. We’re looking for UON academics to sign up and help us complete this important part of the project, so please email me to find out more.

“We hope Emotibook will be rolled out to other EMAT schools as there are around 5,000 other primary school students in the Trust who will also see the benefits of this great addition to their educational resources.”

Castle Academy Year 5 Teacher Jason Gallier adds: “The children find the book incredibly useful for identifying their emotions and talking about what they look like, as well as the triggers to look out for when experiencing those varying emotions.

“Emotibook provides the children with their own visual catalogue of activities and pragmatic ways of regulating their feelings and provides the perfect opportunity to have therapeutic ‘calm time’ when they need it during the day.”

Daniel Lugg, Executive Leader at Castle Academy and Northampton International Academy, concludes: “To be a part of a project like this has been empowering for our pupils. The mental health of our stakeholders is paramount to us at Castle Academy, and the Emotibook enables our pupils to talk positively about their mental health in a safe, age-appropriate way.

“Working with the University on a project such as this aligns perfectly with the school’s and EMAT’s value of inclusion and has supported our pupils in seeing an authentic pathway into further education.”

See the team’s blog for more about the project.

Email Korrin for more information about Emotibook: Korrin.Smith-Whitehouse@northampton.org.uk