Feel Brave Teaching Guide

By: Avril McDonald

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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234 x 286mm
Pages : 64
ISBN : 9781785830167
Format: Paperback
Published: May 2016

The Feel Brave Teaching Guide is the perfect companion to the Feel Brave series of books, and is designed to help 4- to 7-year-olds explore emotional intelligence, positive psychology and some of the challenging feelings which they might experience in everyday life in an engaging, creative and non-threatening way. 

The books help children deal with anxiety, confidence issues, bullying, fears, change, loss and grief. These “little stories about big feelings” will help children develop the resilience they need in order to cope effectively with these important issues as they grow up.

The teaching guide is split into five sections, covering the themes addressed in the seven individual Feel Brave books and provides activities and guidance on how to explore these issues in the classroom or at home. 

Activities include guided visualisations, physical exercises, drama games, mindfulness exercises, craft activities and card games. The teaching guide also includes the text from the seven books, meaning they can be read aloud in class or at home.

The Feel Brave series was a finalist in the 2017 Education Resources Awards in the Educational Book Award category

The Feel Brave Teaching Guide was a finalist in the education category in the 2016 Foreword Indies Awards.

Picture for author Avril McDonald

Avril McDonald

Avril McDonald is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Feel Brave series of books and founder of Feel Brave, a company with a vision to give all children access to tools that help them manage tough emotions and reach their potential. Avril has a Diploma of Education from Wellington College of Education, New Zealand, where she trained as a primary school teacher majoring in music and dance. She then had a varied career in digital entertainment before launching Feel Brave to give teachers and parents simple and practical strategies to help children with their emotional well-being. Her free ‘1 Dose/Day’ emotional well-being programme for children is now used in more than 350 schools across ten countries. Avril is an official partner of the New Zealand Life Education Trust and Patron of Westminster Children’s University.

Click here to read a feature on Avril's Feel Brave series on New Zealand's Stuff' website.

Click here to listen to UKEdChats podcast with Avril McDonald.

'Emotional tools for kids taught through books and songs.'

'Teaching children empathy.'

'Empowering kids to feel brave and tackle tough emotions'


  1. With the importance of PSHE and the need to discuss feelings and other matters relevant to all children comes this excellently well produced teachers' book. It details an approach to teaching PSHE through stories in five accompanying sympathetically illustrated children's books. The themes covered in the stories include loss of a loved one (The Grand Wolf), how to deal with people who are unkind (The Wolfs Colourful Coat), worries (The Wolf and the Baby Dragon), fears (The Wolf and the Shadow Monster), and being left out (The Wolf is Not Invited). The text of each story is included in the teachers' book, as is a CD which has everything too, including emotions cards and yoga pose cards. Links are made to other curricular areas such as Religion, DT and Science with plentiful suggestions for activities. All in all, an excellent resource for the KSl classroom, and also for EYFS.
  2. Children love the Feel Brave books. The books help children learn about difficulties in life but in a way that makes them easy to understand and accept through the rhythm, rhyme and repetition, the beautiful illustrations and the very clear messages and strategies that are subtly put across in each story. The accompanying Feel Brave Teaching Guide curates great ideas, games and activities for teachers to build on the stories' messages and the Feel Brave -˜Emotion Cards' (which are made up of the Feel Brave characters) cleverly provide meaningful and fun ways for teachers to help build emotional literacy. The app demonstrates outstanding innovation around being able to combine ICT time with PSHE.

    As a teacher, I cannot praise these books and the teaching guide enough. My Year Three class love the books. They have listened to every story and we have even done a class assembly based on The Wolf is Not Invited using the CD-ROM with all of the book illustrations in the back of the teaching guide. My class performed this during the week leading up to anti-bullying week and the message was shared with the whole school. Children as old as 11 came out of the assembly wanting to read the books. We at Woodford Green Preparatory School were also very fortunate to have Avril visit the school during that week and the children could not get enough of her stories, which were an absolute hit. We created our own Feel Brave -˜Tree House' to support all of the PSHE work we continue to do around the Feel Brave books.

    The Feel Brave reading books, accompanying Feel Brave Teaching Guide, Emotion Cards and app make learning and teaching fun for children, and simple and practical for teachers. The stories can be used in so many cross-curricular ways, and with children falling in love with the characters there is a deep meaning for them in what they are doing which enhances their learning. To find stories that can open up conversations around self-confidence; anxiety and fears; change, loss and grief; worries and calming down; making relationships; and provide activities to support PSHE is such a great support for us as teachers.

    The series is great value for the amount of use a school can get out of the resources across many curriculum areas. The teaching guide has a CD-ROM containing all of the book illustrations, and each chapter has the stories written with page numbers which means that they can be projected onto a big screen for assemblies or classroom sessions and easily read aloud to children. Each book covers various current PSHE objectives for the Key Stage One group, which is often a challenging age to find really engaging and meaningful content for in emotional well-being.
  3. The Feel Brave books and resources demonstrate creative innovation for teachers and children in PSHE and across other curriculum areas. The resources are both physical and digital which make them both current and relevant for children. The books are wonderfully written in verse with beautiful and engaging illustrations so the resources really resonate with children, teachers and parents.

    The resources are a great way for children to learn about critical issues in their lives, such as resilience, friendship, anxiety and loss. The stories (which are based on sound psychological research) enable teachers and children to have conversations about such topics and integrate them into their PSHE objectives. The Feel Brave Teaching Guide offers both creative and cooperative activities and strategies to help build emotional well-being whilst also providing a lot of cross-curricular learning potential in areas such as literacy, art and physical education.

    The ideas for teachers in the teaching guide can be used as five-minute exercises during circle time or easily adapted into longer lessons so teachers can easily pick and choose what best suits their timetable and easily integrate PSHE into their day. The -˜Emotion Cards' and app provide ways for children to be independently learning and improving the way that they communicate their feelings and emotions. The CD-ROM with the book's illustrations allows teachers to be creative and flexible in how they use the stories and messages and create lesson plans around them.

    Just having a set of the Feel Brave books and teaching guide alone in a school provides great value in giving teachers fun and engaging ways to help children develop emotional well-being. We were fortunate to have Avril carry out an author visit at our school where she told the stories and demonstrated some of the activities with the children, which was of huge value to us. The feedback from her visit was extremely positive and attracted media attention based on the importance of tackling the alarming trends in children's mental health right now, a campaign which St John's fully supports.
  4. Avril McDonald is an amazing author and I love her books.
  5. I love her books because there is so much detail. They are the best! 
  6. I love the books because they make the sad things in life more happy.
  7. I am writing this review with 2 hats on!

    As a mother of 2 children aged 3 and 11, I love these books. Both my children enjoy listening to the stories and they learn about difficulties in life but in a way that makes it easier for them to understand and accept. My 3 year old loves the rhythm of the stories. The first time I read The Grand Wolf, I couldn't stop the tears however it was written in such a way that even death seemed okay, and that was for me as an adult. Avril writes her books with so much passion and thought and I will recommend her books to anyone who has children.

    As a teacher I cannot praise these books and the teacher guide enough. I teach Year 3 and my class love the books. They have listened to every story and have even done a class assembly based on The Wolf is Not Invited. They performed this during the week leading up to anti-bullying week and the message was shared with the whole school. Children as old as 11 came out of assembly wanting to read the book. We at WGPS were also very fortunate to have Avril visit the school during that week and the children could not get enough of her stories. An absolute hit! The teacher's guide is full of ideas that support each of the books and is a must have for any PSHCE lesson.
  8. Avril visited Windlesham School in June 2016 during our annual celebration of reading. During her visit Avril presented her books to parents and shared her Feel Brave characters and series of books with the children in Reception and Key Stage One.

    The books and characters are engaging and really unpick the feelings and emotions that children (and adults!) experience during difficult times. During her presentation Avril showed the children some techniques to help with anxieties and these and other strategies are shared in the Teaching Guide.

    The Feel Brave books are brilliantly observed and help children to acknowledge and process their feelings. This is particularly relevant with regard to a greater need for understanding children's mental health and wellbeing.

    Since Avril's visit I have recommended this series of books to many friends and parents for a range of differing issues ranging from friendship problems to grief and death. I personally found The Grand Wolf to be particularly helpful with my own young children.

    We are looking forward to a return visit from Avril this academic year to further explore emotions and share more strategies with staff, children and parents to support children in both their academic and emotional literacy.
  9. Avril - I have loved using your books and the creative strategies suggested to bring about positive change for the children I work with! All of the children have made very positive comments about both the books, feelings cards and techniques used to teach them new concepts (we are making a lot of cheeky monkeys and wise owls at the moment!). Many of my families and schools are keen to purchase the books. I'm so excited for you! You have created a resource that resonates with children - what a gift!
  10. Avril led fantastic sessions for our KS1 classes and a KS2 assembly. The characters in her stories truly come to life and the messages they convey are so important to the emotional wellbeing of young children. I highly recommend Avril and her Feel Brave series to address issues such as self-confidence, anxiety and worries. The sessions were interactive and pitched perfectly. Thank you so much, Avril, for your visit and providing us with such wonderful resources!
  11. All primary schools' literacy and PHSE subject leaders should be fully embracing the Feel Brave series of stories into curricular practice. Everyday emotional and personal challenges are woven into the most absorbing stories that children and teachers alike will marvel from. The cross-curricular learning potential is far-reaching.
  12. The Wolf and the Baby Dragon (Finding Calm) is actually my favorite of all the books since learning to self-regulate and to be OK with self is central to healthy living. No one lives a stress-free life, so it is critical to learn these skills.  The story demonstrates how to calm oneself and to identify feelings. The idea that Wolfgang is not able to carry his backpack is one a young person can readily relate to.  The spider gives good advice in learning to breathe and the magical spell can easily be memorized and used by parents or teachers as a reminder. I especially like that Wolfgang's friends actually return for him, something that shows their kindness and their willingness to be good friends and share his burden.  In return, he shares his magical spell with them so everyone is able to address their stress. Cool!

    The teaching guide is great in this chapter and gives hands-on, developmentally appropriate, exercises to do with children as individuals or as a class.  The questions at the end would serve as excellent starting points to see how children react to the story and what they can learn from it. I enjoyed reading the excerpt on how our brains work and how this might encourage adults to share their own worries with children. My favorite exercise is changing the channel, something most children can relate to along with specific behaviors that can help a person to calm themselves. The teaching guide is also very helpful in not only giving ideas for activities to address this concept, but is extremely thorough by including recipes and addresses to obtain resources.  

    The Wolf is Not Invited (Self-confidence) helps children to build resilience and to develop a positive voice about themselves and others. Positive self-talk is critical to mental wellness and leads to independence. What makes this story so valued comes from the fact that it is commonplace in children at this age, children who are mean to friends or shut them out to be with another friend.  The words are powerful: “Don't let your heart break though Catreen has left you”. Children get stuck and don't know what to do (adults too!) when they experience such hurt. The message is that you can move ahead, make new friends or even be alone for a while. Again, the kindness factor is there; when Catreen returns she is sorry for what she did and Wolfgang lets her back into his life. The element of forgiveness is also strong.  

    In the teaching guide is a wonderful poem that helps a child learn yoga moves to accompany the poem.  This can be repeated daily to become a natural way to address stress and anxiety. Here is where the emotion cards are introduced.  As a classroom teacher or as a counselor these would be used extensively to help children both identify and to talk about their feelings.   The fact that they can be manipulated, held, touched, and moved is important at this age. Helping children identify all the feelings that are projected in this story is also a safe way to help them learn this. It teaches children that having a feeling is OK and that we should be able to share these openly. The self-confidence activities can be used with an individual or in a classroom.  The specificity of the activities is very helpful and would assist a teacher or a parent in accomplishing them. 

    The Wolf's Colourful Coat (Making relationships) is important to understanding the difference between being kind and being mean. Children are often mean to one another and it is hard to fathom why this is happening. The reaction of Wolfgang is very realistic as he runs inside and hides.  He becomes afraid to come out and to engage with others.  He personalizes what happened to him and is hurt by the action of others.  This experience can be so strong that a child may never engage with another person again. The story helps children realize there are better actions they can take - sharing your feelings, rejoining with your friends who miss you, and playing where the child feels safe. But the heart of the learning comes when Wolfgang is again confronted by the bully and, in spite of the first encounter, is able to do the -˜kind' thing and to reach out to the dog.  Mighty powerful lesson. Lots of transformation in this story for all the characters. 

    The teaching guide suggests some excellent story questions at the end of each story that allows children to explore their own thoughts about the characters and what has happened.  This is a critical follow-up to each of the stories so that many options of kindness can be considered.  Each child can strategize how they might react to such a situation when they are faced with it. Again, some good uses for the emotion cards with this story.  One of my favorites here is to encourage children to do -˜random acts of kindness' especially if they know they will get nothing in return, but are doing it because it is the right thing to do. I also think the tree house game can help remove the child from his or her direct involvement in the situation in order to consider alternatives or different perspectives. Great activity. 

    The Wolf and the Shadow Monster (handling anxiety and fears) demonstrates how to handle fright and fear that looms under the bed for children. I like how the other characters first poke fun at Wolfgang, which covers up their own fears, but when they are faced with the unknown they also experience their own fear.  It is Spider to the rescue who teaches Wolfgang and all of his friends how to cope with their fear in that moment.  Of course this response also needs to be presented with the facts that there may be times when fear should not be addressed but when a child should get an adult or even run away if safety is at risk. 

    In the teaching guide, the activities continue to offer new ideas, or the teacher or parent can go back to earlier exercises to address emotions, what to do when feeling anxious, and how to calm oneself in order to know what to do. The use of creativity including movement, art, music, poetry, play to the developmental level of children, who are much more likely to express themselves in these ways than in writing or even talking. I like -˜draw your brave' as an example of this. Also, I especially like the section for adult care givers on -˜managing anxiety or an anxiety attack'. This offers suggestions on what adults can do if they recognize that a child in experiencing anxiety at that time. Good resource. Also referring the child to someone appropriately trained to handle anxiety may also be recommended in case a stronger intervention is needed.

    The Grand Wolf (Change, loss and grief) accentuates a topic that is very difficult to present to a 4-7 year old child. Learning to deal with loss and grief is a composite of many of the emotions already discussed in the previous books including strong feelings, loss, anger, need to calm, etc.  Since the child has had the opportunity to master exercises and activities that they already know and acknowledge, these exercises can be reworked around this concept. I like the idea expressed at the start of the lesson that states, “If we make grief less of a taboo subject, we can help children to become more open about feelings around loss”.  Bravo to this idea. Parents, teachers, and others can present this topic in a caring and sensitive way to help children develop the social and emotional tools they need for mental wellness. I like how spider gives Wolfgang permission to cry, which is sometimes discouraged in small children. The characters in the story also continue on after learning of the loss to show what they can do next such as put up photos, tell stories, hold the person close in their hearts. 

    In the teaching guide, the exercises around how things change and helping others are excellent in operationalizing the concept of loss.  The life of a caterpillar is often used as an example since its stages can easily be observed. Even more, the activity that promotes building compassion and empathy is critical to developing a sense of wellness. All children can develop these skills and the list of -˜how to do this' such as giving a hug, listening, etc. are important skills children can freely learn to give. Adults can benefit as well. 
  13. This series of books is truly amazing - wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated. They will help parents, caregivers and teachers support children, young and old, in developing emotional literacy. I see teaching emotional literacy as one of the most important things we as parents/teachers can do to help ensure our child's sense of well-being and future success.  

    You know you are in good hands with Avril too - with her background as a teacher and having a diploma in education, this depth of experience shines through!

    I couldn't recommend these captivating books more highly, a must for every child!
  14. Avril's Feel Brave series of stories for 4-7 year olds are perfectly pitched. The stories are engaging, funny and and sensitive. I have read them with a few children now, they've giggled out loud, asked questions provoked by the stories and used some of the terminology afterwards too - like -˜my magical mind'. Avril's stories are based on sound psychological research. The message is delivered in a simple way, often by the wise words of the friendly spider. The accompanying book for parents/teachers is excellent too. She expands on the themes from the stories and offers additional practical ideas to enhance learning and development. These books are a great way for kids to learn about resilience and emotional well-being.
  15. The Feel Brave stories provide teachers with a valuable hook on which to address critical issues in children's lives such as friendship, anxiety and loss. Conversations about such topics can be tricky to manage so it is essential that discussions take place in a safe and positive environment. The activities provided in the teaching guide offer both creative and cooperative strategies for building resilience, confidence and emotional literacy and are easy for teachers to incorporate in their classes. The earlier that children learn to understand their emotional selves and how important it is to support each other through challenging times the better for their future well-being. Well done, Avril and Tatiana, this is a brilliant and very welcome resource.
  16. Avril visited Mead Road School and shared some of her Feel Brave stories with our staff and children. The stories deliver powerful messages about managing emotions which all children can relate to. The children were mesmerised by Avril's retelling and they were hooked in by the beautiful illustrations that accompany the stories. We hope to use these stories alongside the teaching guide to deliver outstanding PSHE sessions across the school.
  17. At St Paul's Cray CE Primary School, we were privileged to have a visit from the author Avril McDonald. She shared her wonderful Feel Brave books with our two year 1 classes. The children responded in a really positive way and the stories encouraged them to talk about their feelings and what they can do to help themselves and others. We showed the whole school these books in an assembly following Avril's visit and we all agree that they will become an integral part of teaching feelings within our PSHE curriculum. This is an area that children do struggle with and Avril's motivating books with their beautiful illustrations and wonderful rhymes will go a long way towards helping young children improve the way that they communicate their feelings and emotions.

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