My Changing Emotions

  • Time Length
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    < 1 hour

  • Mess Level
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    A Little Messy

  • Cost

    Materials or Fees

  • Difficulty
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Note to parents and caregivers on how to do this activity with babies: Make faces that express different emotions and talk about what baby is seeing. Even tiny babies will mimic facial expressions. Talking about what those expressions mean gives them the words to frame their feelings as they grow. 

Question and Wonder:

  • What does love mean to you?
  • If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?
  • What do you dream about?
  • Are there things that make you happy? Sad? What are they?
  • Why do they make you feel that way?
  • How do you express how you feel?

We all have feelings and moods. Some days we wake up ready to conquer the world and other days we just want to pull the covers over our heads and go back to sleep. Everyone gets mad and sad and happy and….. Sometimes it is hard to put our feelings into words.

Imagine and Design:

  • What does joyful look like?
  • How do you make a confused face?
  • Does scared have body language?
  • How can you tell someone how you feel when you don’t have the words?

Make a grid on your paper. In each space, write an emotion. Cut the grid apart, making sure there is only one emotion on each piece. Then fold the pieces and put in the container. Grab a parent, sibling or caregiver and go sit or stand in front of a mirror. Draw an emotion from the bowl and each of you make a face and pose to best express that emotion. Examine your faces in the mirror and talk about what you see.

When all the emotions have been used, try making faces and poses and guessing what emotion is being expressed.

Test and Discuss:

  • How are your faces and poses the same? Different?
  • Were there any that were drastically different from each other? Why do you think that?
  • What does this teach you about emotions?
  • How does playing this game make you feel?
  • Were you able to guess what emotion was being expressed by looking at your partner’s face and body language?
  • What clues did you pick up on?
  • Are there certain facial expressions that really help identify feelings?

Try this:

  • Take two paper cups. On one cup draw something with a face – it can be an animal or person.
  • Draw a square around the face and carefully cut out the square leaving a window.
  • Put the second cup inside the first cup. Trace the square onto the second cup. Rotate until the square is hidden and trace the square again. Do this all around the second cup.
  • Take the second cup back out and draw a facial expression in each square.
  • Color and decorate the first cup.
  • Color the second cup to match and place inside the first cup.
  • Rotate the cup to show the different expressions.

Did you know:

The best way to teach children about emotions and how to appropriately express them is to model it! They will do what you do. If you show them it is okay to feel whatever they are feeling, but not okay to hurt people because of it, they will follow your lead.

By the time infants are five months old, they can match the facial expression with the corresponding tone of voice. By five years old, children are as good at identifying and labeling the emotion from facial expressions as most adults.

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