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2022 – Another year of good work ahead!

Let’s make 2022 a year of growth for ourselves and our students!

January. And a new calendar year. A time to begin fresh, with ideas and resolutions to enrich our lives. Also, the mid-point of the school year. A time to take a deep breath and gear up for the months that will bring us to summer!

In some ways, these 2 ideas are in contrast with each other, and we can struggle to make peace with them. How can we bring new energy and positivity at a time when we can be stressed and tired? How can we start fresh when the challenges of 2021 still surround and, at times, baffle us? But perhaps that’s why the new year comes when it does – to give us hope and the resilience to look for the good, search for new options and ideas, and move forward with a refreshed sense of what is possible.

As clinicians, teachers and parents thinking and working with our students in the areas of social cognition and emotional learning, I wholeheartedly believe that, when our sessions and experiences are fun for our students (and ourselves,) greater learning will take place. Most of you know that I find wonderful engaging social learning material in animated videos – while created for entertainment, so many of these stories give us the gift of stories filled with feelings, relationships, and life! It is rare that I find an entire series full of wonderful material. Many of you remember the Masha and the Bear series, that gave me not only terrific videos, but a number of fun presentations!

Now, I have discovered Maca and Roni, by Kyungmin Woo. For years, there were only 3 videos, and often landed on quite a few of my “Best of” lists. Then, joy, oh joy, in 2021, a whole new channel came out with so many wonderful titles! The possibilities with Maca and Roni animations are limitless.

Of all the animators I have come across, Kyungmin Woo might be the best at portraying mental state verbs. So important for our students, but so fleeting and difficult to concretize. A good freeze frame of his terrific art however, gives us a window into mental processes – see #8 below for an example. Maca and Roni are such incredibly loveable characters, who show such a broad range of emotions – even without eyebrows! Their adventures make for wonderful narrative work. Their relationship is real – with all its momentary interpersonal glitches, ambivalent feelings (so beautifully portrayed,) and fundamental true caring. Their escapades are eternally entertaining. A parent once asked me “Were these videos made specifically to teach about feelings and social relationships?” No, but they sure work for that!

1. Helping Maca’s feelings of sadness and discouragement get better with Feeling Fixers.

2. OK, the flamethrower might not be the BEST idea, but it does represent flexibility…

3. Recording contrasting thoughts and feelings.

4. Discussing similar gestures with very different intentions.

5. Dictated narration emphasizing conjunctions and mental state verbs.

6. Student sketches of character actions.

7. A complicated social sequence.

8. Always on the lookout for portrayals of mental state verbs.

I’ve decided to feature Maca and Roni exclusively on my Best of 2021 list, choosing my 10 most favorite to share with you. This year, my list comes with 3 Quick Picks - suggested YouCue Feelings activities to pair with each recommendation for those days when your therapy planning might benefit from a quick suggestion!

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