The number of students coming to us in elementary school who have autism, emotional disturbances, or have been exposed to drugs in utero continues to grow. These populations have an unbelievably difficult time with social skills and emotion regulation as they become school-age. One of the foundational necessities of these two skills is being able to identify emotions based on facial expression or body language and to understand what causes us to feel these different emotions. My name is Lauren DiBiase, and as the many resources in my TpT Store suggest, social and life skills are my jam! Today I am graciously accepting the role of guest blogger on HoJo’s Teaching Aventures blog and will be sharing with you my 5 favorite activities for teaching emotions.
First, find pictures on the computer of your students’ favorite cartoon characters making different faces and print out the pictures. You’ll be surprised at how many options you get if you type something in such as “Batman Sad!” After printing out the pictures, I suggest laminating them for durability.
Next, give your students a mirror to hold in front of themselves and try to match the facial expressions of their favorite characters! Make sure that after they copy the face that they also name what emotion matches the face they are making. Each student should get to take a turn with the mirror.
To make sure that your students are getting a wide variety of emotions to try to emulate, have them select a card that is face-down, so it is truly random. This will stop them from always choosing a picture of someone happy. We want our students learning what facial expressions look like for many emotions, rather than just one or two.
Special Note -> I find that mirrors with handles work best for small hands. If you are concerned about students dropping the mirror, or if you work with students who are physically challenged, you may choose to do this activity in a mirror that is already hanging on the wall, such as in the bathroom or on the back of a closet door.
2. Real Life Photos!
3. Role play – Reader’s Theater!
language and facial expressions, rather than literacy skills. This is perfect also for our students who are trying to learn more about how facial expressions and body language reflects feelings.
4. Freeze dance!
For some contrast, show your students they could freeze with their hands on their hips and a scowl on their face to show anger or annoyance. There are so many different ways to shape our bodies and faces to match an emotion!
5. Movie: Inside Out!
Next, have your students separate into five groups, and assign each group one of the characters/emotions. Explain to them that they are going to make a collage based on their assigned emotion. They can use their own creative ideas on a poster board, to display things that make them feel that emotion. They can clip pictures from newspapers or magazines, print images from the computer, draw images, or write the images in bold, colorful fonts. Once completed, the groups will stand in front of the class and present their collaborative collages to their peers, explaining what emotion they had and what makes them feel that way.*Special Note -> Inside Out is a PG movie. Use your judgement on if your students are mature enough to watch the move before showing it. Getting parent permission may be a good idea, if you have any concerns.
What activities do you use when teaching emotions? Comment below and share!
*Looking for more fun ideas on how to teach emotions? Be sure to check out this Identifying Emotions Game
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