I thought that learning about identifying and expressing feelings would be a helpful lesson for beginning K students. The majority of our students are EL and learning this vocabulary is very important to their success and well-being at school.
First, I created feeling faces cards with the help of my friend Sally. Sally found these GREAT photos of kids’ faces online that describe 5 basic feelings – happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, and fear. I glued the faces onto pieces of construction paper and aligned the color of the paper with the feeling word (blue for sad, red for anger, etc). Here’s how they turned out…
I start the lesson by using these 5 cards with the students. First, we discuss how we have all different feelings and can even have all different feelings in the same day – or even at the same time! I show students each of the cards and ask them to identify how the child is feeling. Then I ask them HOW they knew how the child was feeling – for example, the happy child is smiling, the sad child is crying. EL K students tend to struggle with this question but they caught on more at the end! Next, I ask them WHY the child might be feeling this way – what might have happened to cause him/her to feel like this? The children were VERY creative with their answers – the funniest two that I got were…Me: “Why does she look so mad?” K Boy: “Because a tiger ate her momma all up!” and Me: “Why does he look so sad?” K Boy: “Because he fell on a pile of walnuts!” The kids never cease to amaze me, haha! We also talked a bit about coping strategies – so if we’re feeling sad or angry or scared, what can we do to feel better? Some of the best answers that I got were play outside, talk to a friend, talk to a counselor/teacher/parent, or take some deep breaths.
After we have talked through the 5 feeling words, I introduce the Magic Coloring Book of Feelings by Robert P. Bowman and Kim (Tip) Frank. I tell students that I will be doing a magic trick for them today to help them learn more about feelings and they get SUPER excited. If you don’t already have this book, buy it now! It is a true counseling staple! Here is what the book looks like:
I hate to ruin the magic, but just so you know…the pages of the book change based on where you place your thumb. So if you place your thumb at the top of the book and skim through the pages, the pages are black and white. If you place your thumb in the middle of the book, the pages are colored. If you place your thumb at the bottom of the book, the pages are blank.
I start the “magic trick” by explaining that we all have lots of feelings. Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are angry, and sometimes we are sad – just like the kids in the pictures that we just looked at. I then show the students the black and white pictures in the book that look like this:
I ask them to tell me how the people in the pictures are feeling (i.e. the family is feeling happy because they are celebrating a birthday and the boy is feeling scared because a mean dog is chasing him). Then, I ask them what the pictures in this book are missing – colors! I then explain how colors are a lot like feelings – I like to think of red as an “angry” color, yellow as a “happy” color, and blue as a “sad” color. This idea was a little abstract for the students, but having the feeling faces card visuals helped a lot! Next, I ask the students to rub their hands all over the colorful carpet and their clothes and hold the colors in their hands. Then, on the count of 3, the students throw their colors at the story. I jerk the book back when they throw their colors as if they have really thrown something. And TADA! I show the students the colorful pages of the book…
When they see that the book has become colored, the students gasp, cheer, clap, and get SO excited! It’s as if they have seen the coolest magic trick of their lives, haha! We then talk more about these pictures and how it is now easier to tell how the people in the pictures are feeling since they are so colorful. Then, I ask the students to stick their arms out and take their colors/feelings back from the book. On the count of 3, the students take them away and I jerk the book forwards. Then I show them the completely blank pages of the book…
Again, the students clap and cheer because they cannot believe that the pictures have vanished! I then ask the students to throw the lines back onto the pages and I show them the lined pages, and later the colors.
Needless to say, the students absolutely LOVE this book and ask me about it for weeks (and months!) later! The older students (3rd and 4th grade) were jealous of the K students and were offended that I didn’t use the book with them, haha! Our assistant principal was so amazed with the book that she could not stop playing with it. The book combined with the feeling faces cards makes for a very memorable (and educational!) lesson that I would highly recommend to any elementary school counselor!