Rainbow Worry Dolls
Term: 3 Year: 2011
During a recent morning meeting, Damien shared a terrible dream he’d had over the weekend. This
sparked much discussion amongst the Prep children about recent nightmares that they too had experienced (a common
thing at this age). After reassurance that bad dreams are ‘only dreams’, and that everybody has
them, a child replied: “I know, but it’s still in my head and I just can’t get it out! I always
think about it”.
This comment scaffolded discussions about who we talk to when things frighten or upset us, and who we share our
worries with. Upon development of this, many children identified that they like to talk to and cuddle their
toys when they are frightened or worried.
With this inspiration we researched Guatemalan ‘Worry Dolls’, where “according to folklore, the
doll is thought to worry in the person's place, thereby permitting the person to sleep peacefully”.
The children liked the idea of this and suggested that we make them, with the expert help of our art specialist
Brooke McLagan and Jo Ellis
(Prep Teachers, Eltham College of Education)
There is no doubt the “class’ discussion presented an example of how Visual Arts can be so easily
integrated into classroom experiences and the interests of the children. This worry doll project is a true example of
engaging and immersing students in a project that is relevant and purposeful to them.
Inspiring the students to want to create their own worry doll was my aim. Initial discussions revolved around the
story “You, Me and a Rainbow” by Petrea King. Immediately after I read the story, students lay down and I
covered their hearts with a small piece of fabric that was rainbow coloured. This was similar to the mother in the
story covering her daughter with a rainbow coloured blanket each night. Once the fabric was placed on them, students
were encouraged to close their eyes and partake in a 5 minute meditation. During this time a CD played and I was able
to very gently run a rainbow ribbon across their face, hands or legs. Whilst this happened I asked the students to
think of one colour they would like to have a blanket cover them. What colour makes them feel safe and happy?
Upon opening their eyes, students were asked to peacefully one by one return their rainbow coloured cloth and tell
me what colour they had imagined.
Students were placed in colour groups based on the colour they chose. They were part of the measuring and mixing
dyes as well as dyeing their own worry dolls.
The dolls were wet and then wrapped in elastic bands.
We dyed them and we let them sit for a day or two, then we took the elastic bands off and allowed them to
Then we rinsed them.
Once all dyeing had been completed, we reviewed our progress and determined what materials and resources were most
suitable to decorate the worry dolls.
The next part of the worry doll process was to adorn our dolls with an outfit and features like hair and eyes.
The students were shown a variety of different coloured wools with different textures. I demonstrated to students
how to cut wools in varying lengths and clump together to create a hairstyle. These have been glued with PVA along
with joggle eyes.
Clothing: A large rectangle of felt was cut to create a long top for the worry doll in the colour of the
worry doll. This was then been folded and a slit cut out in the middle for the head to pop through.
Students sewed buttons and beads onto the front of the rectangle. Once completed these were put over the
doll’s head. The top was fastened with a strip of felt to use as a belt to keep it in place.
STUDENT COMMENTS AND REFLECTIONS:
My worry doll takes my worries away, like when I think about things like my bad dreams. His name is Moe, and
he is green. I chose to make him green because it is one of my favourite colours and it makes me feel
happy. I love Moe’s hair, because it looks a bit spiky and a bit straight. He has green everything,
he even has green buttons on him. When I take him home he is going to live on my bedside table.
I like my worry doll because I made him, and I was very careful. His name is ‘Frog’, because I
like that name, and there are frogs in my tiny pond (but only one little one!). Frog is yellow, because I like
yellow, and it makes me feel good. I will sleep with Frog every night because I love him.
My worry doll is pink, and I like her because she is nice. Her name is sleepy, because she goes to sleep a
lot. I made sleepy by doing tie-dye. I had a little bottle and I squeezed pink on her. Lee-Anne
waited until she was all dry and then I got to sew her jacket with beads and butterflies and buttons. I chose
to make her pink, because it is my second favourite colour and it is my mums third favourite
My worry doll’s name is ‘Stella’, she is a girl. I chose the name ‘Stella’
because it is my favourite name. Stella is purple, because I like that colour. Purple makes me think how
much I love my mum. When I take stella home I will play with her a lot, I will make her a house out of
cardboard. My favourite part about Stella is her dress. I made it by sewing beads on.
My worry doll’s name is ‘John’. I chose the name John because I like that name. John
is red, because red is my favourite colour, it makes me feel safe. I love John’s name and his hair.
His hair is made of wool, and it is short, but it’s not spiky. John will stay on my bedside table, and he
will make my worries go away when I have a bad dream.
My worry doll is called Carly, and she is red. She likes to jump and play. I chose to make her red
because I like that colour, and it makes me feel happy. I liked making Carly’s body red. I used a
board and a big bottle with red stuff. I had to squeeze it onto her and it changed her colour. When I
take her home, Carly will make me have nice dreams.
I like my worry doll because she is my favourite colour, which is ‘pink’. I love pink because I
see pink everywhere around. Her name is ‘Charlotte’, because that is my favourite name. The
best thing about her is her hair, because it is a little bit short, but a little bit long. When I take her
home, Charlotte will do ballet with me.
My worry dolls name is Meladin. I chose that name because we have a Maxx at school, and his name starts with
‘M’, so I thought I would make my worry doll have a name with ‘M’ too. Meladin is red,
because I like the colour red. I like Meladin’s hair because it is red, and it’s a little bit
long. I am going to put Meladin underneath my pillow because she is a worry doll.
I like my worry doll because he is my favourite colour, which is green. I like green because my brother
likes it too. He is called Greeny, because he is green. I liked making Greeny’s skin green.
My worry dolls name is Jessica. I chose that name because I like it, and it is my favourite name.
Jessica is purple, because purple makes me feel happy. I liked dying Jessica the best, because we got to choose
a colour. I twisted her body up to make patterns. I am going to put Jessica in my new bed.
My worry doll is purple, because that is nearly my favourite colour. She has purple everything, like all the
beads on her dress, her hair, her skin and her eyes too. I liked making her jumper, because I liked sewing
it. I don’t have a name for her yet, because when I think of it I always forget again. So maybe I will
just call her ‘Worry Doll’, and she can even catch her own bad dreams. I will take her jumper off when
she sleeps, because she doesn’t want to get it wet!
My worry doll is green, because I just wanted green! Her name is Sarah, and I chose that name because it is
a nice name. I like Sarah’s top, it is like a karate top. I sewed beads onto it, and I think that
was the best part about making her. Whenever I have bad dreams I will always whisper them in her ear and she
will make them go away.
I like my worry doll because he is yellow. Yellow makes me feel good, and it is a shiny colour that
won’t make it so dark in the night. My worry doll is called Bane. I chose that name because
‘Bane’ is one of Batman’s enemy’s and I like that name. Bane is very strong, and that
makes him special. I will put Bane in my bed and cuddle him as tight as I can!
My worry doll helps me have good dreams. He is blue, and I chose that colour because it is my favourite
colour. His name is Stella, and I chose that name because I know a dog that’s named Stella and somebody
else named their doll Stella. I liked that way that I put one big eye and one small eye on Stella, it looks
cool. I am maybe going to put Stella on my bed.
My worry doll is Indigo, because it is my favourite colour. Indigo is sort of like a bluey colour. My
doll doesn’t have a name because I just want to call him ‘worry doll’. I loved washing my
worry doll and putting the colour on him the best. When I take him home my worry doll will make my bad
dreams go away, because he has special little balls inside him that makes your worries disappear.
I loved when we sewed on the worry dolls, because it was super easy and I love the colours that we have. I
love the buttons. I think he looks really good because I like the colour. My worry dolls is happy, cuddly, he
would like sewing. He has floppy legs and he is going to flop everywhere. He would like to run around and
play on a DS, and I have a spare one for him. His name is Zak, because he looks like a Zak.
My worry doll is purple. I like him because he doesn’t have a smile because I don’t want him to
have a smile. He is a happy doll. I know he is happy because I can see he is happy, sad or being naughty
from looking in his eyes. My worry doll is going to be called donkey because I’ve seen a donkey and my
worry doll reminds me of a donkey. A donkey is bigger though. I like my worry doll because it’s a
My worry doll is red. I like him because he has eyes. I like the red in his eyes. He is a funny
worry doll because he has eye brows. He is a silly worry doll because everything makes him silly. My
favourite thing about my worry doll are his clothes, I like his stars and buttons. My worry dolls name is
My worry doll is blue. I chose blue because it’s my favourite colour. I made it for my little
sister because she has nightmares and gets scared in the middle of the night. When she gets scared I tell her a
story about ponies and princesses. I won’t be sad to give my worry doll to my sister because I have my
own teddy. I think my worry doll is like me, happy and sometimes angry. My worry doll is called Funky
My worry doll is pink and it is a girl. I like that it has long pink hair. I like it because
it’s very pretty, because I like its dress. I put on all pretty things on it like beads and
buttons. I knitted them to put the button on. My favourite thing about my worry doll is that it is
pink. When I take my doll home I’m going to play with my doll, but I’m not sure what game I will
play with it yet. My worry dolls name is Isabella.
My worry doll is purple and she is really nice and I hope that she put my bad dreams away. I think she will
put my bad dreams in her head, and then she make another kind of brain and make up a nice kind of story. She
will be a happy worry doll. She will be happy because when I cuddle her and play with her outside.
I’m going to play hide and seek, and I think she will find me. I like that she is purple. My worry
dolls name is Sydney.
I like my worry doll because he is nice and I like his colour. He is red. I chose red because I like
the colour red. My worry doll is funny and I’m going to play with him with star bear. I will play
cheddar. My dolls name is cheeky face because he has a weird face. He is nice and he is very, very, very,
very cheeky. My worry dolls name is frog mouth.
My worry dolls is yellow. I chose yellow because it is my favourite colour. I think my worry doll will be
happy because he is the best worry doll and he always like to be happy. I like that he plays with me and that
he loves me. I think he will take my dreams away and then I will wake up. He clears the dreams
away. I like his body and I like his buttons. My worry dolls name Is Donkey Kong.
My worry doll is green. I chose green because I chose the green blanket, because my worry doll said it
wanted green. My worry doll is green and she has hair on her head. My worry doll will be happy because
she wants to play games. She will play lots of games with me. My favourite thing was that I actually made her,
and she will take my dreams away. When I’m having dreams lots of times, I will quickly go and get my
worry doll and I will cuddle her and he will take my dreams away. She will throw the dreams away to my brother.
My worry dolls name is Soaky.
My worry doll is green. I chose green because it is one of my favourite colours. My worry doll has
some green around it and white, and you have to stick some eyes and hair. My favourite thing was sewing
it. My worry doll might be angry, but I don’t really know what it will be like because I’m still
thinking about that. My favourite thing about my doll is it’s buttons. My worry dolls name is
My doll is purple. I like her because she looks nice and she looks too nice to cuddle. She will be a
happy worry doll because she will see me and she will be happy when she sees me. I think she will take away my
bad dreams, and when I cuddle her she will take them away. I don’t know where they will go. My
favourite thing about my worry doll is that she looks so nice. Her name is Leeanne.
My worry doll is blue. Her name is sparks because I like sparkles. I like her because I get scared in
the night so if I get scared I will cuddle her. She is a happy worry doll because she has a friend to look
after her, and she is going to a new home and she will meet lots of new friends because I have lots of friends.
If I have bad dreams the worry doll will take them away and she will put them in a little box where all of the bad
My worry dolls name is Yo, because he says yo all of the time. He is going to protect me in bed. The
monsters won’t scare me. When monsters come I will scream as loud as I can and worry doll will
come. My favourite thing about my worry is that I will play with him. I will play with him with my toys.
My worry doll is indigo. I chose indigo because I like the colour of it. I like that I got to sew the
clothes on her, I sewed buttons and stuff like that. My doll will be happy because I will do stuff with it.
I’m going to go to the park with her and slide down the slide and do the monkey bars and stuff like that.
I’m going to sleep with it. I think it will take away my bad dreams and put them in the bin. My
worry doll is called sparkles because I thought I saw a bit of a sparkle on her.
Suitable for Level 1