There are times in life when we all worry. Worrying isn’t always problematic, but when it starts to interfere with your day-to-day, it can become a nuisance. We started this week’s art therapy with a reading of the picture book, “Don’t Think About Purple Elephants” by Susan Whelan and Gwyneth Jones. It is a story about a girl named Sophie who worries.

She doesn’t worry during the day when she is busy with family and friends, but at night when everything is calm and quiet. Her family all try to help, but somehow they just make her worries worse. Until her mother thinks of a new approach … that might just involve an elephant or two! But wait, don’t think about purple elephants, whatever you do! Whimsical and humorous, this little girl’s story of finding a way to ease her worry will resonate with children and parents everywhere.

After our story we made our own purple elephant masks to put on when WE get too worried! It’s hard to worry when you’re wearing a purple elephant mask, let me tell ya!

This is an all-ages craft that is simple to construct and lots of fun. Simply take a paper plate and cut two holes in it for the eyes. Paint the entire plate purple with tempera paint and set aside to let dry. Take one sheet of purple construction paper and fold in half long-ways, then cut it into two pieces. Take one of those pieces and accordion it for the trunk. Take another sheet of purple construction paper and fold it in half short-ways. Draw an elephant ear on the end and cut it out so you have two matching ears. Attach the ears and trunk on with glue dots and voila! You have yourself a bonafide purple elephant mask.

We made our own elephant ear tracers, but you could do whatever you’d like. The simplest way is to imagine a letter B without the holes in it. Some of the classes hung up their purple elephants outside of their rooms.

The kids did a great job and everyone enjoyed the story! If you have a student or child who worries, helping them to create unique, new coping mechanisms can open up a whole new world for them. Don’t be afraid to be silly, get messy, or rely on something like a purple elephant! We all have days where we could use one.