The Switch Witch and the Magic of Switchcraft, book (by Audrey R. Kinsman and illustrated Milena Kirkova), witch figure, and app is a tremendous resource for all schools and homes that deal with life-threatening allergies. It is endorsed by the Teal Pumpkin Project – www.tealpumpkinproject.org, that is a movement initiated by FARE (Food Allergies Research and Education). Their mission is to create a safer happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters by switching out non-food items so that all kids can enjoy the fun of the season. And that mission is near and dear to my heart having treated kids with allergies so severe, that it was a gamble for some families to try to engage in typical activities…like grocery shopping! We may take for granted simple everyday activities that for some turn into life-threatening situations, and for me personally, to raise the flag of awareness only makes sense as a health care practitioner and a mother.
Enter the Switch Witch; she is something like the Elf on a Shelf, but has a mission far more reaching than promoting “good behavior”. The Switch Witch package can be bought at local retailers and online. It comes with the witch figure, a book, and a QR code to download the app. In addition, there are dozens of activities on Pinterest by using a simple search of “Switch Witch”. The app contains 2 games to reinforce the magic of the story. The story is rooted in helping others – and in this case Witches. Alas, it seems they need kid’s candy to fuel their spells, brooms, etc. They especially have a taste for the candy from good girls and boys and offer a “Switch” of candy for a toy. The most striking thing about this lyrical story, is the absence of talk on allergies, bodily reactions to allergens, and preachy rhetoric. Instead, it offers up the choice for all children to “switch” their loot of candy for a toy, and thus creates an equal playing field for those afflicted with sensitivities.
When reading the story to preschoolers, they immediately embraced the concept that some kids can’t eat certain foods, after all, they have seen this at lunch and snack time…but most hadn’t yet connected it fully in conjunction with another person’s experience. And that is why I love this book. It does not separate kids but joins them together in the exploration and variation of human experience. They make a choice to go with their goody bags or trade it in for something else. And THAT also initiates the seed of compassion and the ability to view something outside of the continual reference point of themselves. Our kids that viewed the story and played the games were very curious and asked a lot of questions about what kids experienced that were allergic to foods. You see it’s not about a rash, but the ability to variate a perspective to save lives. Think about it…is something with dairy, wheat, nuts or even shellfish as a remote ingredient worth serving if it jeopardizes the life of a child? …just asking. Go to www.tealpumpkinproject.org or http://switchwitches.com to find out more.
In summary, every school needs a Switch Witch as well as many families. The book and figure come alive when played with and read aloud. The app contains 2 memory games to reinforce the message. I would love to see the book in app form to play it on a whiteboard or big screen and to at least expand on the accompanied app games. The message of Switch Witch is too important to be ignored and helps us to remember those that need our help the most.
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.