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All Kinds of Feelings: A Lesson for PreK–2nd Grade


How can educators and care providers help young children learn to identify their own and others' feelings and emotions?

This activity provides an opportunity to assist children to creatively explore feelings through reflection, discussion, art, and dance. The activities help children to understand how they can promote positive feelings in one another by practicing kindness in their daily lives. Children work together to create visual representations of feelings to use as catalysts for discussions throughout the year.


  • Children will reflect on, explore, and share their feelings about starting a new school year, meeting new children and teachers, and experiencing new environments.

  • Children will learn about the connection between words, actions and feelings.

  • Children will create visual representations to depict a variety of feelings, which can be used as a catalyst for future discussions.

  • Children will develop empathy for other children through sharing personal experiences and exploring commonly-shared emotions and feelings.

Lesson Interfaces with the Following Subjects:

Language Arts, Art, Dance/Movement

Estimated Time:

1-3 class meetings (approximately 20 minutes each)

Materials Needed:

Chart paper, markers or crayons, magazines containing pictures of diverse people showing a wide range of emotions, glue, instruments or music and cassette or CD player.

[NOTE: If magazines are not available, teachers will need drawing supplies, such as paper, crayons, pencils or markers so children can draw their own pictures of people with different emotions].

Teaching Procedures

Preparation for this Lesson

Ask children to bring in magazines that they can use to create the "Class Collage" part of this lesson. Encourage children who can to bring more than one magazine so they can share with children who may not be able to bring in magazines. If magazines are not available, have children draw pictures to use in the "Class Collage" part of this lesson.

Group Discussion Component

1. Discuss the concept of "feelings" by leading a discussion that invites children to reflect on their own feelings about starting a new school year, meeting new children and teachers, and experiencing new environments. Use some of the questions below to prompt discussion.

[NOTE: Modify questions when necessary; some children may be attending a brand new school or program while others may be continuing in a school or program they previously attended. Avoid equating feelings of sadness and/or anger as wrong or bad with children; reassure children that all people experience anger and sadness sometimes.]

  • What are feelings?

  • Does everyone have feelings?

  • Does everyone have the same feelings? Does everyone express them the same way?

  • How did you feel about meeting new children in your class this year?

  • How did you feel about already knowing some of the children in your class?

  • How did you feel about having a new teacher?

  • How did you feel about already knowing some of the teachers you have this year?

  • How did you feel coming to a new place for school?

  • How did you feel coming to a familiar place?
2. List all the feelings discussed on a large sheet of poster board or chart paper, leaving adequate space between the words for the "Class Collage" component of this activity.

3. Lead a discussion to help children gain an understanding of how their words and actions can promote certain feelings and/or actions. While all feelings are acceptable, help children understand that some actions are not acceptable. For example, name-calling, hitting, biting may be a result of feeling angry or hurt, but these actions do not help lead to a resolution of the original problem. Use some of the below questions to prompt discussion.

  • How do you feel when someone shares his or her toy with you? What might you do?

  • How do you feel when someone will not share his or her toy with you? What might you do?

  • How do you feel when someone says that he or she likes the block tower you just built? What might you do?

  • How do you feel if someone knocks down the block tower you just built? What might you do?

  • How do you feel if someone calls you a name? What might you do?
4. Ask children to identify the feelings on their list that result from different behaviors and actions (such as being kind to one another, inviting or excluding someone from play, etc). Circle those particular words using a brightly colored marker or crayon.

5. Ask children to think about or demonstrate the facial and body expressions they might have while experiencing each of the circled feelings.

"Class Collage" Component

1. Explain to the children that they will work together to create a "Class Collage" that depicts the various feelings on the list they created during the group discussion component of this lesson. Explain that they will hang the collage in a prominent place in the room so it can be used as a visual catalyst throughout the year to continue reflection about how their behaviors towards one another can trigger various feelings. Explain that it will also be used to help them create a "Feelings Dance."

2. To create the collage, separate the children into several small groups and distribute magazines containing pictures of diverse people showing a wide range of emotions. [NOTE: If magazines are not available, use drawing supplies.]

3. One word at a time, point to each feeling on the list; as you read the word, have children search through their magazines and cut out (or tear) pictures of people showing that emotion. [NOTE: If magazines are not available, have children draw pictures that express that emotion.]

4. One by one, have the children paste their pictures next to the word of the corresponding feeling on the group list.

"Feelings Dance" Component

1. Lead the children in a discussion of the different expressions and body language illustrated in each picture on the "Class Collage." Use some of the below questions to prompt discussion.

  • Which feelings do you see in people's faces? Tell us more about that.

  • What other parts of the body were used to express feelings? Describe and have children pantomime.

  • How is posture used in expressing feelings?

  • What feelings are easy to express through pantomime?

  • What feelings are easy to express in real life?

2. Explain that by working together, the children will create a "Feelings Dance" of the words listed on the "Class Collage."

3. Read each word on the "Class Collage" and have children pantomime each emotion using facial expressions and body language. Repeat the list of words and again have children move their bodies and faces to express the feeling; this series of words and movements becomes their "Feelings Dance."

4. Help children play musical tapes, CD's or use instruments to accompany the movements for their "Feelings Dance."

Assessment Recommendations:

The success of this activity rests on the children's ability to understand, discuss and depict various feelings. Assess their ability and effort by observing their:

  • participation in group discussions,

  • contribution to the class collage, and

  • use of facial and body movements to express emotions.

Extended Activities:

1. Have children make a "Feelings" book by having them draw or cut out pictures of places, things, or people that make them feel different emotions. Assemble all the pictures into one "Class Feelings Book" which can be shared during group time. For a home/school connection, display the completed book where adults who pick up children at the end of the day can see it.

2. Have children use art supplies to create "Feelings Masks" that depict the emotions listed on the "Class Collage" from the previous lesson. Provide an opportunity for children to share their masks with a partner or in small groups. After the students have shared their masks, display them on a bulletin board somewhere else in the room.

3. Invite children to paint or color pictures of people showing different feelings and emotions. Have them discuss how colors can be used to express emotion. Ask them how each color makes them feel.

4. Play music with different tempos and moods and ask the children to describe how the music makes them feel. Have them move to the different music while expressing the mood the music evokes.

Lesson Meets the following National Standards

Head Start Child Outcomes Framework Domain 1: Language Development

Domain Element: Listening and Understanding (3-5 year olds)*

  • Demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.

  • Shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.

  • Understands an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.

Domain Element: Speaking and Communicating (3-5 year olds)*

  • Develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions and for other varied purposes.

  • Progresses in abilities to initiate and respond appropriately in conversation and discussion with peers and adults.

  • Uses an increasingly complex and varied spoken vocabulary.

  • Progresses in clarity of pronunciation and towards speaking in sentences of increasing length and grammatical complexity.

Head Start Child Outcomes Framework Domain 5: Creative Arts

Domain Element: Art (3-5 year olds)*

  • Gains ability in using different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expression and representation.

Domain Element: Movement (3-5 year olds)*

  • Expresses through movement and dancing what is felt and heard in various musical tempos and styles.

Head Start Child Outcomes Framework Domain 6: Social & Emotional Development

Domain Element: Self-Control (3-5 year olds)*

  • Shows progress in expressing feelings, needs, and opinions in difficult situations and conflicts without harming themselves, others, or property.

  • Develops growing understanding of how their actions affect others and begins to accept the consequences of their actions.

Domain Element: Cooperation (3-5 year olds)*

  • Increases abilities to sustain interactions with peers by helping, sharing and discussion.

Domain Element: Social Relationships (3-5 year olds)*

  • Progresses in responding sympathetically to peers who are in need, upset, hurt, or angry; and in expressing empathy or caring for others.

Head Start Child Outcomes Framework Domain 8: Physical Health and Development

Domain Element Fine Motor Skills (3-5 year olds)*

  • Progresses in abilities to use writing, drawing and art tools including pencils, markers, chalk, paintbrushes, and various types of technology.

Domain Element Gross Motor Skills (3-5 year olds)*

  • Shows increasing levels of proficiency control and balance in walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching and galloping.

*Standards provided by Head Start Child Outcomes Frameworks (

McRel** Language Arts Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 1, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Uses writing and other methods (e.g., drawing pictures, using letters or phonetically spelled words, telling, dictating, making lists) to describe familiar persons, places, objects, or experiences.

Standard 2, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Uses descriptive words to convey basic ideas.

Standard 5, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Understands that print conveys meaning (i.e., know that printed letters and words represent spoken language).

  • Creates mental images from pictures and print.

Standard 8, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Makes contributions in class and group discussion (e.g., recounts personal experiences, reports on ideas and personal knowledge about a topic, initiates conversations, connects ideas and experiences with those of others.

  • Asks and responds to questions.

  • Follows rules of conversations (e.g. Takes turns, raises hand to speak, stays on topic, focuses attentions on speakers).

  • Uses different voice level, phrasing, and intonation for different situations (e.g., small group settings, informal discussions, reports to the class).

  • Uses level-appropriate vocabulary in speech (e.g., number words; words that describe people, places, things, events, shape, color, size, location, actions; synonyms, antonyms; homonyms, word analogies, common figures of speech).

  • Gives and responds to oral directions.

Standard 9, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Understands the main idea or message in visual media (e.g., pictures, cartoons, weather reports on television, newspaper photographs, and visual narratives).

McRel Thinking and Reasoning Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 5, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Identifies simple problems and possible solutions (e.g. ways to make something work better).

McRel Health Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 4, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Identifies and shares feelings in appropriate ways.

Standard 10, Level 1 (Grade K-2)**

  • Understands individual differences (in terms of appearance, behavior).

McRel Art Connection Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 1. Level 2 (Grade K-4)**

  • Knows how ideas (i.e. sibling rivalry, respect) and emotions (e.g. sadness, anger) are expressed in the various art forms.

McRel Visual Arts Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 2, Level 2 (Grade K-4)**

  • Understands how different compositional, expressive features (e.g., evoking joy, sadness, anger), and organizational principles (e.g., repetition, balance, emphasis, contrast, unity) cause different responses.

  • Uses visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Standard 3, Level 2 (Grade K-4)**

  • Knows how subject matter, symbols, and ideas are used to communicate meaning.

Standard 5, Level 2 (Grade K-4)**

  • Understands that specific artworks can elicit different responses.

McRel Dance Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 1, Level 2 (grade K-4)**

  • Knows basic actions (e.g., skip, gallop) and movement elements (e.g., height of the dancer in relation to the floor, directions), and how they communicate ides.

Standard 2, Level 2 (grade K-4)**

  • Improvises, creates, and performs dances based on personal ideas and concepts from other sources.

  • Knows how improvisation is used to discover and invent movement and to solve movement problems.

Standard 3, Level 2 (grade K-4)**

  • Knows how a dance may elicit various interpretations and reactions that differ from the meaning intended by the dancer.

Standard 4, Level 2, (grade K-4)**

  • Knows how a variety of solutions can be used to solve a given movement problem.

McRel Working With Others Standards and Benchmarks

Standard 4, Level 4 (Grade K-12)**

  • Display empathy with others.

  • Displays friendliness with others.

  • Uses emotions appropriately in personal dialogs.

**Standards provided by McRel (

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