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Children’s social and emotional well-being sets the foundation for their ability to successfully navigate life as they grow. Children have a strong need to be heard and have their feelings understood.
As such, helping children to identify their feelings and giving children tools to talk about their emotions is of crucial importance.
In this post I am sharing several feelings activities you can do with your children to help them learn more about feelings.
These activities coincided with work my husband and I have done over the years to get our children to use “I statements” when they are feeling sad/upset/angry with each other. (For example, “I felt sad when you stepped on my doll” or “I felt angry when you didn’t include me in the game.”)
As a parent, it is tiresome to hear your children screaming at each other when one annoys the other. So my husband and I have worked hard over the years to give our children practical tools and words to use when they are feeling big emotions.
I hope these ideas below will be a positive springboard to more productive conversations about feelings in your home or classroom as well.
Reading about feelings
As part of our learning we read books about feelings. I’ve got a post sharing 45+ books about all sorts of different feelings where you will be sure to find a few books you can use.
For our feelings sort activity, I decided to focus on five primary feelings: happy, sad, angry, surprised, and scared.
Toward that end, I found and printed pictures from the internet representing each of those emotions.
I started the activity by presenting an exemplar of each emotion to the kids so we could talk about what people’s faces look like when they feel a particular emotion. We noticed, for example, that scared and surprised faces both have similar wide eyes but their mouths make different shapes.
Then the kids took all the pictures and sorted them into separate piles for each emotion.
The kids did a great job of sorting the feelings into piles, only getting confused by a few of the pictures.
At the end, we had five piles representing each of the feelings.
Update: I have now created an Emotions Printables Pack that is a fabulous tool to continue working on emotions and feelings with your young children. This pack includes plenty of activities to identify and match emotions.
After sorting the feelings pictures, we then played feelings charades. The kids took turns drawing a feeling card and then acting out that feeling. They especially enjoyed acting out surprised and shy. My daughter, in particular, thought that surprised was a very fun emotion to act out. For weeks after, every time she heard anyone say the word “surprised,” she would make a very dramatic surprised face. 🙂
We did not use these, but I imagine the Todd Parr Feelings Flash Cards would have been a nice addition to our feelings charade and feelings sort activities.
And of course, there are resources in my Emotions Printables Pack that could be used for this as well.
Feelings stress balls
We also decided to make feelings stress balls. I started with four balloons and some homemade play dough.
The kids helped roll the play dough into thin snakes to make it easier to get the play dough into the balloons. (Although later we found it was easier to get small balls rather than thin snakes into the balloons.)
Once our play dough was rolled in to thin snakes, I held open the balloons while the kids inserted the play dough inside.
It was hard work to keep the balloons stretched open while my kids shoved the play dough in! After making two, my arms were shaking and I decided we would take a different approach to making the rest. (I also rationalized this by deciding that comparing the sensation of a feelings stress ball made from play dough with one made from rice would be a worthwhile endeavor as well. :-))
So I gathered two more balloons, some uncooked rice, and a funnel.
We inserted the funnel into the top of the balloon.
As I held the funnel, the kids poured rice in to their balloons. I found it worked best for the kids to pour and then for me to take out the funnel and blow a bit of air in to the balloon to get the rice to move down, then re-insert the funnel to pour more in.
When the balloons were full, we drew faces on them using a Sharpie marker to represent the emotions of happy, angry, surprised, and sad.
The kids had so much fun playing with their feelings stress balls.
I have created an Emotions Printables Pack with more than 120 activities related to children’s emotions.
This pack is designed for children in preschool and kindergarten, and it features an inclusive cast of racially and ethnically diverse children.
The pack includes:
- Activities to Identify Emotions
- Activities to Match Emotions
- Emotion Sorting Activities
- “I Feel” Creativity Mats
- Emotion Puzzles
- Emotion I Spy
- Emotion Cutting Practice
- Emotion Graphing
- “I Feel” Sentences
Want a copy of my Emotions Printables Pack?
Get this product by clicking the button below.
More Social Emotional Resources
More social and emotional posts from Gift of Curiosity: