Many of my students are either “happy”, “mad”, or “sad”, and miss all the subtle variations of feelings. A larger emotional vocabulary allows children to make distinctions between feelings and communicate better with others about their internal state. As SLPs know, learning vocabulary in the context of conversation and play is a great way to build skills. Here’s a few activities my students love and that I’ve found effective!
1.Musical Feelings: Cut out pictures that represent a variety of feelings and place them in a bag, envelope or other container (you can cut out pictures from magazines or use the feelings pictures here). Have students pass around the bag while music plays. When the music stops, the student holding the bag pulls out a picture, identifies the emotion, and tells a time when they felt that way. I also like to ask them to show the emotion with their face and body. Prompts to label emotions are helpful. You can write these on a sheet of paper or use the ones in my Emotions Vocabulary resource pictured here.
2. Emotions Hunt: Using the feeling faces from the last activity, place the pictures around the room. Give each child a “Feeling Checklist” (download a copy here) and have them cross out the vocabulary words as they find matching pictures around the room. You can tie-in a “social detective” concept by letting them search with magnifying glasses. For nonreaders, provide lots of assistance by reading the words out loud or having kids work together. I love hearing why they chose a picture or the scenarios they create!
3. Emotions Reflection: Give each child a small mirror. As you read a story with many feelings words (you can read my post 5 Books to Build Emotions Vocabulary here), have students make the faces to the corresponding emotion while looking in their mirror. Then have students put their mirrors down and show each other their “feeling face”.
4. Changing Faces: Use paper plates to make paper plate faces. Ahead of time, cut out mouths and eyebrows and attach to the paper plate with fasteners; students can color the rest of the plate. This will allow students to change expressions on their plate by turning the mouth from a smile to a frown, and eyebrows facing in or out. Read a story and pause after important events and ask students how they would feel by changing their paper plate face.
Are there any activities you have found fun and effective for teaching emotions vocabulary?