Dealing children a helping hand with Book of Beasties: the mental wellness card game

Michelle Jayman, Annita Ventouris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim(s) Play contributes uniquely to effective learning and the development of socio-emotional skills. This study investigated Book of Beasties (BoB), a school-based, socio-emotional intervention which utilises ‘playful learning’ to improve emotional literacy and wellbeing, to determine its potential as an effective resource for education staff facing increased responsibility for mental health support in schools. Method. A single case study comprising one school (N = 8 Year 4 children; mean age 8.5 years). Four children (two boys; two girls) received the intervention and four comprised a comparison group. Qualitative data from session observations, focus groups with children, and semi-structured interviews with school staff (the delivery agents) and parents/carers were thematically analysed. Proposed quantitative measures to examine intervention effectiveness were administered pre- and post-test to determine their suitability. Findings. Integrated findings from thematic analyses suggested that BoB benefitted recipients in terms of developing socio-emotional skills and improving subjective wellbeing and was socially valid. Findings also elicited specific components, for example, fantastical elements of the game and sensory-focussed activities that had an influence on positive child outcomes. Selected measures of children’s emotional awareness, emotional regulation, and wellbeing were deemed appropriate. Limitations. Data were collected from a single, ‘volunteer’ school. The class teacher (delivery agent) selected the children who received the BoB intervention, potentially biasing the findings. Conclusions. The feasibility of conducting a full-scale evaluation of BoB to examine effectiveness and understand process issues was established. Further research will help address a gap in the school-based, socio-emotional intervention literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-80
Number of pages12
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020

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