Help Kids Identify and Express their Emotions with “A Feeling for All Seasons”

Summer is winding down! Cue the sweaters, the scarves, the fuzzy socks, and of course the Back-to-School rush.

While I am not exactly keen on shorter, cooler days, the changing of seasons does provide a great opportunity to bring some seasonal touches into the classroom or counselling office. One way to do that is with some Fall-themed feeling faces.

I love my emotions charts and generally find myself using them at some point with most of my child clients. The pictures help kids identify and express their feelings, build the ability to recognize and empathize with others’ emotions, and help kids start to problem-solve appropriate ways to handle their unpleasant emotions.

This Fall I decided to take my feeling charts up a notch with pumpkin feeling faces that I can hang on the wall as office decor! From there, I decided to go a step farther and make different faces for each season. I added summer suns, winter snowflakes, and spring flowers to my collection, giving me a total of 40 feeling faces (10 for each season) and labels for each emotion.

Today I will be sharing what I did and how you can make use of this activity in your clients or classroom.

You will need:

  • Feeling faces
  • Laminator and laminating sheets
  • Scissors
  • Velcro or magnets

Steps:

1) Make your feeling faces. You may be able to find images online to purchase or you can create your own. I was able to find free clipart images to use and then I created my own faces in the program GIMP. It did take a while to create the 10 emotions on the 4 different shapes, so if you can, you may want to save yourself some time and find ready-made images to download. If you want to use my images you can purchase them for 2.99 here. They will soon be available in our store as well.

2) Print and cut out the faces and the accompanying feeling labels. Then attach Velcro strips to the backs of the faces and labels. Attach the connecting side of the Velcro to the board or wall where you intend to hang them.

3) Pick your season, hang up the faces, and use them again and again!

Here are some ways you can use these feeling faces:

  • As general room décor, on a wall or bulletin board, to keep emotions in kids minds and help them develop emotion vocabulary.
  • As a check-in: At the start of your session or your class, have the child pick as many of the feeling faces that he feels that day. You can also invite the child to share feelings that he has experienced through the week.
  • As a matching game: Pull the faces and the labels off the wall and mix them up. Have the child practice matching up the faces with the corresponding emotions. In a group or class setting, the kids can mix them up for each other.
  • Toss a ball or shoot elastics at the board. If it hits an emotion, have the child tell a story about a time when they experienced that emotion.
  • As relationships assessment: In exploring relationship dynamics, have the child pick the feeling face that fits with each of his family or peer relationships. Or pick the feeling faces and ask “Which person in your family makes you feel this way?”
  • Make a set of faces to send home with the child and have him practice playing match-up with his parents.
  • Take the faces and labels off the wall and put them face down on the floor. Take turns flipping up a face and a label. When a match is found, the child, therapist, or teacher must tell a story about a time when they felt that way.

I am excited to put my feeling faces to use and hope you will find a use for this activity too.

In terms of age recommendations, I will generally use a feeling chart type activity like this up until about age 10. On the younger side of the scale, even very young children who cannot yet read the labels can still benefit from the faces themselves. I was actually surprised when my toddler found the laminated pages and decided she wanted them for herself. I was able to discuss with her what each of the faces was feeling. When we got to the worried face, she spontaneously told me how she felt “worried” when one of her stuffies fell out of her bed. While I realize clients this age may not find their way into a therapy or classroom setting for a few more years, it’s never too early for parents to start helping their kids to identify and express their emotions.

Beyond this exercise, I have written about a number of other strategies that I use to try to help kids increase their emotional intelligence. So if you are looking for some other free resources that you can use to help kids with their emotions, check out some of the free resources we have posted about in the past.

“Today I Feel Happy”: A Feeling Chart to Build Kids’ Assertive Communication

Mind-N-Mettle Feelings Edition Group Game Show

Feelings Checkers printable game board

Feelings-focused board game variations

Feelings Catcher paper craft

 

Join the discussion: Share your favourite ways to help kids learn about their emotions in the comments box below.

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Carey EmmersonHelp Kids Identify and Express their Emotions with “A Feeling for All Seasons”

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