Early play and the development of self-awareness and self-regulation

Introducing Wendy Woo

Wendy holding up a red My Mood Stars board with 8 yellow My Mood Stars attached

Wendy Woo and her Mood Stars

Hi, I’m Wendy Woo (real name Wendy White) and I’m a qualified and experienced childminder, who developed My Mood Stars to support PSED in the Early Years.

Now retired, I remain an avid supporter for children and adults needing support identifying, acknowledging and embracing all emotions, in themselves, and in others.

For many childminders and others working in early years, there has been a growing need for resources that support early language development, particularly in relation to developing an awareness of emotions, and ways that these feelings can be communicated.

Research indicates that this is increasingly an issue, because of the restrictions of Covid and the deprivation of opportunities for social interaction, early play and the development of self-awareness and self-regulation.

My Mood Stars are rapidly becoming an essential resource that young children are readily engaging with, as well as those who are older.

One of the reasons that my Mood Stars are so effective is that there is no distraction of age, culture or gender, simply the expressions on the Stars’ faces. They are soft, plush, child hand-sized Stars that children can carry around with them and include in all their play

I’ve put together a simple checklist and information which will be useful for those struggling with verbal expression, disclosing feelings, and identifying and labelling the emotions that they are feeling.

Key Emotions

I drew on my experience as a childminder, and I compiled a list of emotions that I would observe in young children in my setting. These became the expressions on the My Mood Stars’  faces.

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Scared/Worried
  • Timid
  • Sleepy
  • Surprised/Shocked
  • Silly
  • Angry


When using symbols, and characters, and other resources, it is important that the adult offers a range of synonyms that match to the vocabulary that the child knows and uses, or in the child’s locality, because this then acknowledges that different words can be used to represent the same emotion.

In 2016 I was inspected by Ofsted and my inspector told me that there was a big gap in the market for such a resource and now My Mood Stars are in over 1500 schools, as well as early years settings, autism organisations, hospitals, family homes nationwide and beyond.


eight yellow, plush stars depicting different emotions

My Mood Stars








Key benefits / considerations

Young children benefit from resources that are multisensory and engaging. They need to be:

Tactile: Appealing to little fingers and for those children who may have additional sensory needs

Appealing: Simple primary colours often appeal

Easy to handle: Small enough to be manipulated, large enough for those with visual impairments, for example.

Washable: Of course! We are talking early years here.

Relatable: Consider what shapes are most easily recognised and appealing. Children find it easier to communicate their feelings when they have something to fiddle with. We’ve all seen children fiddling with their jumpers, sleeves or hair when trying to find the right words.

Can the resource be used in a wide range of settings and age ranges? For older students with limited language or communication difficulties, does the resource support them without appearing ‘babyish’?

Durable and affordable: Has the resource been designed to be accessible in terms of affordability and robustness? What provision has been made for easy access and storage of the resources?

Additionally, the resources should enable children to immerse themselves in imaginative play, either by themselves or with others and offer a fun opportunity for children to talk about how they are feeling and to develop their own story scenarios and games.

However, with the on-set of Covid 19 and all it brought, My Mood Stars have been helping all children.

Post Covid

Reinstated activities that include sharing soft toys and engaging in role play can extend children’s way of thinking, ideas, vocabulary, and self-regulation. When a child can identify how they are feeling, and find a nonverbal way to express this, we are providing them with an alternative way to interact and to ask for help. We should not underestimate the importance of supporting all children in becoming more emotionally mature, resilient, and autonomous.

For the online activity sheet click here

For more information, please visit


And please follow me on:

Twitter – www.twitter.com/mymoodstars

Facebook – www.facebook.com/mymoodstars

Instagram  www.Instagram.com/mymoodstars

LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/motherofmoodstars