My preschoolers are labeling their feelings more often lately, and it’s great.
My daughter recently said, “I feel nervous,” which helped me provide support to her in a new situation. My son (who has various special needs) has been signing when he’s “happy” or he’s “sad” with greater frequency.
Helping our preschoolers express their emotions helps them better deal with those emotions (and reduce scream- and cry-fests).
While they’re both bursting into this newfound understanding of base emotions, it seems like the best time to do a feelings and emotions preschool unit. So we have. And they’ve rocked it!
Read below to find the activities we used, along with other websites and book recommendations. These activities are geared toward preschool age, and you’ll notice a few modifications and activities I used for my son’s special needs.
Feelings and Emotions Unit for Preschoolers
Our General Plan
We love book-based units, and my kids (my son, especially) learn and retain information well when we read a book first, then do a complementing activity. So during this unit, we read a new book about feelings each day, and then completed an accompanying activity or two (20-30 minutes each day).
Because this is our first time doing a concentrated feeling unit, we kept it to just one week. Next time we do an emotions theme (probably in the fall or next spring), we’ll expand on it.
Feelings Books and Activities for Preschool
Book: The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (Parenting Press, 2000)
Activity: Emotion identification – We used feelings charts from this “emotions management tool” and this “feelings words” poster on Teachers-pay-Teachers to discuss each emotion. I quizzed my kids on each emotion, and they were both able to distinguish and pinpoint the emotions much quicker than I realized. I’ve created a simple poster accessible to the kids so they can point at which emotion they feel if they can’t first express it (especially helpful for my son who has apraxia).
Book: My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Knopf, 1996)
Activity: Color and Count sheet from 2 Teaching Mommies feelings printable pack
The kids loved this activity and practiced fine motor skills, following directions, counting, and distinguishing emotion.
Note: I recommend checking the second book first for a few possibly questionable references for preschoolers.
Activity: Make a Shape Face activity from 2 Teaching Mommies feelings printable pack
Another activity my kids loved! This was the first focused activity we’ve done with both kids where they needed to replicate something from a small card onto a bigger display. My daughter wanted to keep playing around with the faces after we completed each card. This activity would make a great felt board game, too.
Book: Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner (Millbrook, 2003)
Activity: “Look, See, Spell: Feelings Words” worksheet from 2 Teaching Mommies feelings printable pack with letter stamps
Feelings Sticker Prewriting Activity
I saw a sticker matching activity on Pinterest similar to this and modified it for this feelings unit. I didn’t get to the store to find emotions-themed stickers yet, so I just made my own emotions on small squares of paper. (You could have your kids help cut the squares for scissors practice!)
I set up two columns of matching emotions “stickers” and modeled for my kids how to find a matching pair and draw a line connecting the two. We spent time going over each emotion together (with my kids labeling each emotion), and then finding its match. The kids did great, plus this activity provided prewriting practice my son both needs and enjoyed!
- Signing Time offers an episode on feelings that we highly recommend (and LOVE) for increasing vocabulary (both signing and verbal).
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS has a pair of episodes on helping others when they feel upset and other feelings. They have accompanying activities on their website, too. When my son watched this episode, he kept grabbing Percy Gets Upset and “talking” to me about it during the episode.
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How do you help your kids express emotions? Share your ideas in the comments below!
This post was featured at Generation iKid!
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