Introduce toddlers to various emotions in this fun matching game.
Children have emotions from the moment they are born. As we grow, we start to express those emotions in more appropriate ways. Many children grow up thinking that it is only okay to be happy all the time, but that cannot be further from the truth.
It is important for children to learn at an early age that it is perfectly fine to have a range of emotions from happy to sad to angry to scared to embarrassed to silly. It is also important that we never shame students for feeling these things. Children should learn that they can label how they feel and then decide if they want to feel that way. The best way to do this is to expose them to the range of emotions at a young age, even as young as a toddler.
This little matching game will allow you to show children how to label feelings and then practice making the face expressions associated with them. As children get older and start to use words to express, we should encourage them to say, “I feel…” when they are going through an emotion. Labeling our feelings will help with self regulation we grow into adults.
Copy of “Feelings and Emotions” cards cut and laminated on thick cardstock - download PDF above!
Books about feelings
Safe handheld mirror or mirror on wall
Poster of different emotions that match cards
Expression of feelings
Show range of emotions
Identifying self in relation to “feelings cards”
Pretend to make face expressions like teacher or card
Since toddlers may not fully understand all 12 of the emotions on the memory cards, you may want to start with three or four.
Hold up one card and make the face/expression that is on the card. (I.e.- angry and make an angry face) Ask toddlers to make an angry face.
Lay out two other kinds of emotions in front of the toddler and ask them to point to the one that shows the match. “Which one is angry?” Have the matching card in child’s hand to refer to.
Repeat this with as many cards as you think toddler can handle, and practice matching.
To modify this for older children, have this game at a center with mirrors and books about feelings. You can also keep this game in the “calming corner” to play when they need a break and want to identify what they are feeling.
How do I feel right now?
What are some feelings that I like to feel?
When do I feel silly? Sad? Afraid? Tired?
What should I do when I feel angry and do not want to feel that way?
How many feelings can I name?