Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Emotions

Carter had his first temper tantrum in public a couple of weeks ago.  I knew his blow up was most likely due to being overly tired as his sister's crying woke him up in the middle of the night and then he woke up early that morning as well.  But with the temper tantrum and the huge life change of getting a sibling and splitting his attention with her, I thought it would be a good time to talk more about emotions.  Carter already does a great job of verbalizing his feelings, telling us when he's scared or sad.  He also talks about other people's emotions as well asking if I'm mad, worried, or crying (which he uses for sad).  I wanted to give him words to share how he's feeling in more situations as well as understand how others might be feeling by reading their facial cues.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives from the original ones we focused on because Carter mastered those skills.  I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually.  The highlighted objectives are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Take turns in a simple game.
  2. Understand the meaning of mine, his, hers.
  3. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).  
  4. String beads or other objects.
  5. Count to 3 and understand what the numbers mean.  
  • Using half a paper plate, I made feeling masks.  I drew a nose and a mouth on the plate and then taped a popsicle stick to the back.  Normally Carter doesn't like paper plate masks because he doesn't like the holes for his eyes, so I thought he'd prefer these masks.  He ended up putting the plate up high enough it covered his eyes which defeated the purpose of them being half a plate, but oh well.  I made happy, sad, mad, and scared.  Carter liked putting one in front of his face and telling me what feeling it showed.  He even ran up to Thomas when he came over exclaiming "Happy!!!!" while holding up the smiling face.

  • We also used the feeling masks to role play.  When Carter had a mask I'd tell him by looking at his face I could tell he was feeling sad/mad/scared/happy.  Then I'd tell him what I would do to help him by acting it out.  After he'd had some time to see what I would do if a friend were feeling a certain way, I'd hold up a mask and have him act out what he would do to help me.
  • For further practice on reading other people's emotions, I would make a face and then ask Carter how he thought I felt.  It was actually quite a bit harder than I expected to make some of the faces.   Carter does pretty well reading happy and sad, but beyond that he isn't quite sure.
  • I saw an idea for playing with Play Doh and making face emotions on plug protectors here.  I ended up drawing the faces just like she did because I'm not much of an artist so it was easier for me to just copy.  Carter loved sticking the plugs into the Play Doh, but didn't quite get putting the faces together.  I'd ask him which eyes went with the emotion the mouth he had chosen was showing and he'd just guess.  It was a fun activity for him anyway.
  • I drew faces to show happy, sad, mad, and surprised on small squares of paper.  Then I showed Carter one of each and talked about what feeling the face showed.  Then I had him sort the rest of the faces based on the feeling expressed on the face.  He did really well sorting them, but again had a little bit of difficulty identifying the emotion displayed.  When we had them all sorted we counted them to see how many were in each pile.
  • Throughout the week when something would happen and I could see Carter showing an emotion, I would ask him, "How does that make you feel?"  There were also times something would happen to someone else and I'd ask him, "How do you think _____ feels?"

  • To help Carter further identify how someone else might be feeling I showed him body language to go along with the faces that might be made.  He really enjoyed it when I would get mad and fling my hands.  I think his favorite was when I was surprised and I would put my hands up by my mouth.
  • I made a feelings chart with sad, mad, happy, and scared.  My plan was to get Carter to make those faces to put on the chart, but he didn't want to so I made the chart with my face.  I pointed out the different faces and told Carter what feeling was displayed.  Then we talked about what was going on with my face.  How did my mouth look?  How did my eyes look?  

  • I used the same pictures to make cards.  Then I had Carter sort the cards based on the facial expression shown.  He did pretty well.  I could tell it was his 2nd time doing it!  Then we counted to see how many cards we had in each pile.

  • We also used the emotions cards while reading books.  I would tell Carter how I thought the character in the book was feeling at different points and would show him the emotion card that correspondedIt would be a great activity for him to do later on to practice more with figuring out other people's emotions, but he just wasn't quite ready for that yet. 
  • When we were working with the pictures of me displaying different emotions I told Carter I would have used his picture if he'd been willing to take pictures.  He got excited and wanted to do some.  I told him if he'd make different faces I'd make a book of feelings using his picture.  We went to the mirror and I made a face and asked him to show that emotion.  He did really well with happy, but struggled to recreate any other facial expressions.  I know he makes them when he feels that way, but he was just feeling too darn happy I guess!  Afterward we were getting ready to go somewhere and Elise got really upset as I was putting her in her car seat so we talked about how she was feeling and I took pictures of her face to use in Carter's feelings book.
    Happy face
    Another happy face

    His sad face
    Elise's sad face
  • We talked about how when you are mad there are different ways you can try to calm down.  I had Carter take some long, slow breaths with me to practice.  We also practice relaxing our bodies and pushing our feet into the ground.  
  • I saw an idea for making snowmen out of marshmallows and using different emotion faces on one of the marshmallows here.  We didn't end up doing it, but I would like to in the future.
  • We created feeling face stress balls with balloons and rice.  Carter helped me fill the balloons with rice and then I drew faces on them.  Each one was a different emotion.  I drew happy, sad, mad, and scared.  He really enjoyed playing with them.  I've had students in class who really benefited from squeezing a stress ball when feeling anxious, mad, or sad.  I figure I'll try pulling one out when Carter is upset or throwing a fit to see if it helps him.
    Filling the balloon with rice.
    Playing with his happy face stress ball.
  • I saw an idea for creating toilet paper roll emotion characters here.  This was another activity we didn't end up doing, but I would like to do in the future.
Special Snack:
  • For breakfast one morning I made Carter face pancakes. I used raisins as the eyes and peanut butter as the mouth. One pancake had a smiling face and the other had a frowning face. I asked Carter which one was happy and which one was sad. He pointed at the correct pancake for each.
    Ready to eat his feeling face pancakes.
Make Believe:
  • We would pretend to feel different emotions.  I'd show Carter a feeling card.  Then I'd act that feeling out with facial expressions and body language.  Then I'd show him a card and ask him to act that feeling out.  His favorite to act out was scared because he'd make a frightened face, squeal, and run away. 
  • We sang "If You're Happy and You Know It" switching out the emotion listed.  For example, "If you're sad and you know it, make a frown," or "If you're mad and you know it, calm down."  With mad we'd practice our breathing when we said "calm down".
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went to a musical storytime at the library.  During storytime we sang "If You're Happy and You Know It" which Carter loved dancing to and acting out.  After storytime we headed into the children's section of the library where they had smiley face pages for the kids to color and tape to the wall for display.  I showed Carter the page and called it a smiley face.  We talked about how someone would feel if their face looked like the picture.
    Coloring his happy face page.

I found an awesome list of books to read to children about all kinds of emotions on this website.
  • No No Yes Yes by Leslie Patricelli
  • Hands Are Not for Hittinig by Martine Agassi
  • A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
  • Happy by Miles Van Hout
  • Little Monkey Calms Down by Michael Dahl
  • Nobunny's Perfect by Anna Dewdney 
  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
  • Elephantantrum by Gillian Shields
  • Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • If You're Happy and You Know It by Raffi
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
  • Feelings by Aliki 
  • The Great Big Book of Feelings by Mary Hoffman
  • Is My Face Red! by Naomi Kleinberg
  • In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
  • The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! by Mo Willems
  • Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boynton 
  • Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner
  • Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off A Little Self-esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
  • Finn Throws a Fit by David Elliott
  • Use Your Words, Sophie! by Rosemary Wells


  1. Carter always has happy down!

    1. He's like his Opa, he'd like to pretend happy is the only emotion out there, haha!

  2. Your little ones are adorable! And I really love this lesson...tons of great ideas! I'm going to have to try them with Mabel since I think she'd really enjoy them + I've been in the same boat with a few temper tantrums in public...this will probably help her understand how she's feeling and be able to better express herself. :)

    1. Thanks!!! I love planning out our weekly learning themes, it is so much fun!