Mercer Island native Marcelle Waldman had the idea for FeelLinks nestled in her head for a few years. It wasn’t how she intended it to enter the world, but when she launched her social-emotional resource for children at the end of January, the timing was right.
During the pandemic, “I really felt like there was so much talk around social-emotional skills for our children for the remote setting that our kids are in,” she said.
FeelLinks, which includes four double-sided and soft feeling dolls — which feature expressions — and a feeling journal, is geared toward children ages 4 and up. Waldman’s mission is to present more words for kids to use and help them to better understand their feelings and those of others.
“It helps us as parents or caregivers to know what our children need,” said Waldman, adding that kids can also learn how to express if they’re feeling happy, sad, excited, angry, calm and more. Kids can squish, throw and breathe with the dolls, said the Issaquah resident who has a 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.
Waldman, who graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1998 and later taught kindergarten at Lakeridge Elementary and was a teacher and lead at Pixie Hill Preschool, said that families, preschools and therapy offices have ordered sets of FeelLinks. She’s received positive feedback and some customers have sent her photos of their kids using the items.
The FeelLinks seed was sown at Pixie Hill, where they were already using beanie baby dolls to express feelings. Waldman expanded on that activity and added in journaling, which she put into play with her Lakeridge students.
Waldman — who earned her degree in elementary education from and also studied psychology at the University of Arizona — possesses a deep passion for social-emotional learning for kids and wanted to create a resource that was tangible and usable in multiple settings.
“I wanted it to be very kid-friendly, wanted it to be a bright and predictable journal that children could use, but also have kind of some extra fun to it, making it personalized for themselves,” she said.
For more information, visit www.myfeellinks.com.