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Feeling and expressing

These activities help students learn about feelings, how to express them in a positive way, and how to manage negative emotions. This is an important early stage for developing awareness, sensitivity and empathy towards others and improve their tolerance and ability to cope.

Choose one or more ideas from each phase.

What's going on?

  • Reflect on feelings about starting a new school year, meeting new children and teachers, and experiencing new environments. Discuss: What are feelings? Does everyone have feelings? ...the same feelings? ....express them the same way? How did you feel about meeting new children in your class? ...already knowing some of the children? ...having a new teacher? ...already knowing some of the teachers you have? ...coming to a new place for school? ...coming to a familiar place?
  • Talk about experiences which generate particular feelings e.g. Can you tell us an example of a time you felt sad? How would you feel if... your friend said he likes your new haircut? ...your sister won a new bicycle? ...someone took your ball from you at playtime?
  • List all the feelings discussed on a large sheet of paper, leaving enough space for a collage of pictures cut from magazines, or photographs of students demonstrating their "feelings faces".

Think about it

  • Make lists of comfortable and uncomfortable feelings (e.g. happy, proud, excited / angry, sad, embarrassed)
    Discuss: How do we show (each of these feelings) to other people? How do other people feel when we show our comfortable feelings? How do other people feel when we show our uncomfortable feelings? How does expressing our feelings help us get along better with each other?
  • Play games. Place your list words or this feeling words list (PDF, 45KB) on separate pieces of small paper in a bag or a hat, or use pictures of various feeling faces. Play music and stop at intervals for students to draw one out and show that feeling in their face, voice and body. Classmates guess the feeling expressed. Talk about what the student did to show the feeling and how that expression made others feel. Students can also describes a time when they felt that way.
  • Make a large cardboard dice or a spinner board and glue on feeling words or pictures. Students take turns to roll or spin and demonstrate and give examples of the feeling shown.
  • Use mirrors to see expressions of different feelings in conjunction with discussions or while listening to a story with many feeling words in it.
  • Cut out, paint or colour pictures of people showing different feelings and emotions.
  • Draw and embellish feeling words. Discuss how colours, lines and shapes can be used to express emotion. Draw and embellish feeling words.
  • Make a "Class Feelings Book". Get students to draw or cut out pictures of places, things, or people that make them feel different emotions. Assemble all the pictures into the book
  • Play music with different tempos and moods and ask the children to describe how the music makes them feel. Have them move to the different music while expressing the mood the music evokes.
  • Sing "If you're happy and you know it..." introducing new feeling words and actions e.g. "If you're mad and you know it use your words - I'm mad", "If you're scared and you know it get some help, HEEEELP!"

Make a difference

  • Create a class collage that depicts the various feelings on the list they created.
  • Discuss how words and actions can promote certain feelings and/or actions. Explain that while all feelings are acceptable, some actions are not acceptable. Ask the following questions: How do you feel when someone shares his or her toy with you? ...someone says that he or she likes the block tower you just built? What might you do if ...someone will not share his or her toy with you? ...someone knocks down the block tower you just built? ...someone calls you a name?
  • What would you do if...? Make a class list of possible bullying type / bystander scenarios and responses which would help to stop the behaviour in a fair way.
  • Brainstorm possible acts of kindness and affirmative statements. Write them on special cards. Post them around the room. Pick one from a box each day to keep on your desk.
  • Generating positive emotions: Put each student's name on the top of a blank sheet of paper. Pass the sheets around the class and ask each student to write or draw something kind or complimentary about that person - what they like about them / nice things they have done. Try to emphasise behaviours rather than appearance. Take up the sheets for checking before distributing them to their owners. Students may wish to paste / place them somewhere for frequent reference.
  • Practice steps for problem solving: e.g. Recognise your emotion, Breathe deeply / slowly count to 10, Think about your choices. Express how you feel in a calm way, Act out your best choice.
  • Display the class collage or word wall to support continual reflection about how behaviours towards one another can trigger various feelings.
  • Display the class collage or word wall to support continual reflection about how behaviours towards one another can trigger various feelings. Display collage / masks / book in a public place in the school.