Where would I be without visuals (seriously, I shudder to think!) Visuals are great for teaching and reinforcing behavioral expectations and academic concepts, but they are also a critical resource in supporting students’ social-emotional development. I like to store all of my emotions visuals on an emotions bulletin board (below) to allow for easy access and reference. I found the emoji poster and border at Lakeshore Learning. I like them because they are recognizable for my students and help make the display age-appropriate.
A close-up of one of my favorite visuals (a breathing visualization poster) is below! I use it to help students utilize proper breathing technique and to provide a little distraction when they begin getting dysregulated. I encourage student to use their fingers to pretend picking a flower and bringing it up their noses to smell. This particular visual is part of my deep breath relaxation pack found here.
The only thing better than teaching emotions is teaching emotions without students even realizing it. You probably already incorporate games into your literacy and math instruction, but they can also be a great strategy for building and reinforcing social-emotional skills. Here are four fun way emotions games and activities:
- Emotions Bingo: Not only is bingo fun, but it incorporates so many fantastic skills in one activity! Bingo is quick way to practice expressive and receptive language skills in addition to word and picture identification and recognition. You can create your own emotions bingo cards or use pre-made cards (I carry the version below here.)
- Emotions Charades: This basically no-prep game is perfect for when you need to fill a few minutes before a transition. Write emotions down on slips of paper or whisper an into a student’s ear. Students then act out the given emotion while their classmates guess.
- Mirror, Mirror: This activity is most appropriate for early childhood or younger learners. Kids love looking into mirrors! Print out pictures of people expressing different emotions and place in a basket in the center of the table. Allow students to pull a picture from the basket. Support students in identifying the emotion. Next, model making the emotion with your face and encourage them to do the same. Pass around a child-safe mirror and allow each child to practice making the given emotion in the mirror.
- Playdough Emotions: Definitely my favorite activity of the bunch! I love to incorporate a hands-on component whenever possible, and especially love to incorporate playdough whenever I can! Give each student a blank face template (laminate first or place in a sheet protector) and some playdough. Students use the playdough to build a face to match the given emotion. The playdough mat below can be found here.
3. this CARPET
Unfortunately having any classroom carpet (let alone a new…or clean one) can be considered a luxury in many of today’s public school classrooms. I was SO fortunate to receive a carpet of my choice through DonorsChoose. In designing my classroom I aim to create one that is functional with each material and space serving a clear purpose that enhances student learning. I also want classroom to be kid-friendly, inviting, and fun. When I saw this carpet, I knew it was exactly what I needed! I love everything about it–from the bright colors to the endless possibilities for learning–and most importantly, my students love it. If you’re lucky enough to choose a carpet for your classroom, I highly recommend it!
Thanks so much for reading about some of my favorite things for teaching emotions in the classroom. I’d love to hear how you incorporate social-emotional instruction into your day. Leave a comment below!