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Emotional and social learning (SEL) materials for children 0-8 years old based on Pikkuli stories develop children’s emotional skills amazingly quickly. The result was observed in a study by the University of Helsinki, which compared two Finnish methods of emotional skills to conventional small-group lessons in kindergartens.

According to research, Pikkuli content strengthens children’s socio-emotional abilities, such as emotion and interaction skills, in up to 10 weeks. The children showed fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and withdrawal than the control group. The children also helped and supported other children.

Pikkuli’s SEL curriculum is built around the Pikkuli character and the Pikkuli’s imaginary world that children love. Animation episodes, books, music, and Emotional Cards are used in the exercises. The curriculum includes, among other things, storytelling, games, visual arts, music, and drama-based games, which are used to learn how to process and regulate emotions, as well as social skills both at home and in early childhood education.

How was the research done?

The research material was collected in 15 kindergarten groups during spring 2021. Of these, five groups of early childhood educators participated in Pikkuli SEL training and then started a ten-week trial period, during which Pikkuli materials were used in the kindergarten at least three times a week. The educators could carry out the exercises freely or develop new lessons based on them.

The research results are based, among other things, on survey methods developed by Reunamo Education Research and work diaries kept by educators.

The creator of Pikkuli, Metsämarja Aittokoski, says that according to the Pikkuli Group’s own survey, children knew how to talk about their feelings better than before after the experiment, and that the weekly Pikkuli sessions were favorite moments of both children and adults.

– After all, it certainly supports learning, that you have fun with Pikkuli, Metsämarja Aittokoski rejoices.

The research was part of the CREDU project funded by Business Finland.

Read more about the CREDU project here:

Silja Martikainen, Mirjam Kalland, Tanja Linnavalli, Kaisamari Kostilainen, Metsämarja Aittokoski, Jyrki Reunamo, Zoi Vasileiou & Mari Tervaniemi (2023)
Supporting social-emotional development in early childhood education and care – a randomized parallel group trial evaluating the impact of two different interventions, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research
Full article:

A child is reading a Pikkuli book.