K-2 teacher’s guide to emotions and feelings lessons and resources. Teach social-emotional learning in the classroom with this resource list of activities, children’s book suggestions, videos, and more!
K-2 Teachers Need these Emotions and Feelings Lessons and Resources
We all know that social-emotional development is crucial in the classroom and at home. We need to nurture and tend to the social and emotional needs of our students if we want to see them succeed at school and in life.
But where do we begin? What should we focus on?
As teachers, we tend to notice moods first because they directly affect behavior in the classroom.
When dealing with our students expressing their feelings in the classroom, virtually, or at home, we need to acknowledge a child’s self-awareness. After all, a child’s ability to name and identify feelings comes with being aware of how they are feeling.
Let’s dive deep into the topic of teaching emotions! Read along for activities, resources, books, and videos to add to your classroom. As a result, your emotions and feelings lessons will be packed full of great ideas.
Emotions & Feelings Activities to Use in Your Classroom
There are simple ways to explore emotions and feelings in your classroom.
Teaching emotions in the classroom involves identifying emotions, expressing emotions, connections, brain biology, and mindset.
Here are some simple activities and routines to add to your classroom schedule:
- Journaling – Keeping a journal is a written way to express emotions and feelings about a variety of topics. Grab the free emotions and feelings journal below!
- Easter egg matches – Draw various expressions on Easter eggs – eyes and eyebrows on top, mouths on the bottom. Make a game out of it and have kids match the expressions on the top and bottom. Kids can use these eggs to share their feelings, emotions, and moods when they are frustrated, angry, or upset.
- DIY stress balls – Fill balloons with sand and draw facial expressions. Have them on display so kids can point to their mood for the day upon entering class or at any point to share their frustrations. If kids are noticeably struggling, have them use the stress balls to calm down.
- Read books – Books are a great way to show via stories how others deal with their emotions and feelings. By listening or reading about the characters’ lives and situations, kids learn ways to manage and cope. Try these book companion lesson plans as well.
- Emoji paper plates – Color inexpensive paper plates yellow and glue or draw on expressions. Attach the plates to jumbo popsicle sticks and use them in class as a roleplay activity or a guessing game.
- Inside Out chart – Take inspiration from the movie Inside Out and make a poster with each main character. Then list similar emotions and feelings next to each character. For instance, Joy could have additional feelings, including happy, playful, and courageous. Sadness could include bored, lonely, sleepy, and unhappy. Surprised could be confused, startled, shocked, and excited. Furious, embarrassed, and frustrated could be on Anger’s side. Don’t forget to include Disgust and Fear! Finally, watch Inside Out with your class!
- Charades scavenger hunt – Get the kids moving! Assign an emotion to a few children and have them stationed in the room, ready to act out their emotion. Give the rest of the class an emotion checklist have them hunt for the person expressing that emotion. Make sure everyone gets a chance to act AND fill out the form.
- Emotions wheel – Make an emotions wheel with two wheels that spin around. The first wheel features moods and emotions, while the second wheel offers solutions for dealing with emotions. Make one for the class to discuss how to deal with emotions, or have the kids make their own wheels.
- Sensory bottles or emotions bottles – Find a collection of bottles and add colored water to them to represent emotions (red = anger; yellow = happy, blue = sad, etc.). Decorate faces on them and use them in class to discuss emotions or have a feelings check-in. Kids can make their own sensory bottles that they can use when emotions are running high.
- Play-doh emotions – Make a face template for the kids and laminate it. Have the kids make various faces with play-doh. Eyebrows and tears should also be included. This activity can lead to identifying facial expressions.
- Kids yoga – Teach the kids some basic yoga moves and breathing techniques to start the day, when emotions are hot, or to use as a brain break.
- Matching game – Make cards with sets of expressions and laminate them. Then, distribute them to the students and let them roam the room to find their match. They must also identify the mood or emotion on their card. Get the kids moving while identifying expressions.
- Feelings Bingo – Encourage kids to recognize their emotions during an untraditional game of Bingo. After they experience an emotion, they can color in a section on a Bingo board.
- Emotions freeze dance – Any movement you can sneak into a kid’s day helps with emotional balance. Therefore, get the kids moving with a freeze dance. Assign an emotion for the kids to make before the music stops. Freeze the song and see what they come up with! Encourage them to use more than just their face. This gives kids some insight into body language.
Videos for Emotions & Feelings
Enjoy these videos, including emotion games, read-alouds, and videos that help identify emotions, feelings, and moods.
Name that Emotion Game – 3 scenarios in which to determine the correct emotion. Essentially, kids learn from reasoning and deduction.
Guess the Emotion with Characters from the movie Inside Out – Enjoy using the characters from Inside Out to figure out emotions.
Watch Your Feelings animated short movie (3:00) – This 3-minute short movie shows that love can conquer hate. Afterward, children are empowered to treat others with kindness.
Feelings & Emotions Vocabulary – Learn to interpret feelings and emotions by watching body movement. In other words, children will learn how to be more perceptive to how others feel.
Feelings – This video shows facial expressions with various feelings. Accordingly, kids can match feelings with expected facial expressions.
Teaching Children How to Manage Emotions – Three emotional scenarios are presented in this video. In effect, children learn methods to manage impatience, breaking things and noise.
Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions? – This doodle video shows the brain and its relation to emotions.
The Color Monster read-aloud – The color monster illustrates emotions and some colors that are associated with them.
The Grump Monkey read-aloud – The grumpy monkey shows that it’s okay to express your feelings.
In My Heart read-aloud – This read-aloud highlights various feelings well all experience.
Children’s Books about Emotions & Feelings
Start with this list of 15 books and videos that teach emotions.
Here are additional choices for books that focus on feelings and emotions. They make great options for your classroom or home library.
- Today I Feel . . .: An Alphabet of Feelings by Madalena Moniz – Today I Feel . . . follows a child through a whole range of emotions.
- How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann – A fun way for a child to identify different emotions with the very expressive “faces” of fruits and vegetables!
- F is for Feelings by Goldie Millar – This alphabet book gives children the “feelings words” they need.
- In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek – A full range of emotions are described in this book that helps readers practice identifying their emotions.
- The Color Monster: A Story About Emotions by Anna Llenas – Follow this adorable monster as he learns to sort and define his mixed-up emotions.
- The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee – Meet a boy who experiences and navigates BIG emotions and learn ways to handle and celebrate them at the same time.
- Feelings & Choices FlipBook by Radial Education– Learn to recognize and name 28 different feelings and moods with this fun flipbook.
- My Moods, My Choices FlipBook by My Moods, My Choices– Learn how to identify 20 different moods and corresponding positive actions.
- My Angry Robot by Joey Acker – Mr. Robot teaches kids about anger and how to deal with it.
- Today I’m a Monster by Agnes Green – Discuss mad feelings and the fact that everyone has a bad day.
- Anxious Ninja by Mary Nhin – This is one of 30 books that examine emotions and more.
- My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss – This book helps kids identify their emotions and move on.
- Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis – Watch how moods can change throughout the day through this fun book.
- Feelings to Share from A to Z by Todd Snow – This engaging book reviews a list of emotions so kids can learn to express themselves.
- All Kinds of Feelings by Sheri Safran – This lift the flap book explores feelings and includes a spinner game.
Emotions and feelings are a huge component of social-emotional learning. However, it’s not hard to start a social-emotional unit in your classroom!
Find more social-emotional learning children’s books in our easy-to-navigate lists categorized by topic!
Resources about Emotions & Feelings
Emotions Book Companions
This emotional awareness resource includes 5 book companions on popular children’s books that relate to feelings and emotions (The Color Monster; The Feelings Book; Glad Monster, Sad Monster; F is for Feelings; In My Heart).
Children will participate in classroom discussions and book chats, share their feelings in written form, and participate in fun, engaging activities that build emotional awareness and social skills.
This emotions book companion resource includes a detailed lesson plan, guided questions, anchor chart, writing response, and follow-up activities (printable and digital included) for all 5 books. Great for distance learning and remote teaching of social-emotional skills!
Emotions Self-Awareness Unit
The Emotions: Social Emotional Learning Unit includes 5 detailed, research-based lessons to teach emotions for kids. It is filled with hands-on and mindful activities. The curriculum teaches children about how their brain controls their emotions. It also teaches how to identify and express how they are feeling, and ways to encourage a positive mindset.
FREE Emotions Lesson & Feelings Journal
Help students learn to identify and process their feelings in an emotions journal.
Download a free lesson and activities on identifying and labeling emotions from the Emotions unit by clicking the image below and signing up.
Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum
The mind + heart Social Emotional Learning Curriculum includes 8 units with 5+ detailed, character education, research-based LESSONS filled with TONS of hands-on and mindful ACTIVITIES that encourage children to express themselves and build important emotional and social skills. It includes emotions for kids!
Gather some resources, materials, activities, ideas, books, and videos to focus on your kids’ needs and keep them engaged.
Finally, I’d love to hear your favorite ideas regarding emotions and feelings in the classroom! Leave a comment and let me know.