Preschoolers are at a unique age because they are learning to express their feelings in a socially appropriate way, and at the same time, they are learning to read and understand the feelings of others. Being able to learn about and understand how feelings work is essential because these are skills everyone will need as they go through life. There are many activities that can be used to teach preschoolers about feelings.
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Teaching Feelings Through Vocabulary
Ask students to come up with words that mean the same thing as the feeling being taught. For example, "happy" means the same thing as glad, cheery and joyful. Ask students to come up with ideas that can be associated with that feeling. For example, "happy" brings about ideas of "sunshine" and "smiles."
Teaching Feelings Through Art Projects
Have students create a piece of artwork by drawing or painting things that make them feel or associate with the feeling being taught. For example, a student might draw a picture of a sad child with a broken toy.
Use colours to teach the meaning of the feeling. Often, yellow and orange are attributed to happiness, while darker colours like black or a deep purple or blue are attributed to sadness. Ask students to use the colours that make them feel a certain way in their artwork.
Use various art materials to make masks of faces that exhibit the emotion or feeling that is being taught. For example, a student might use straight eyebrows and a straight mouth on an angry face. Have students share their masks with their classmates, or throw a "feeling" parade or party in honour of the feeling being taught. This is especially useful when teaching "happy" as a feeling. You can incorporate things that make the children happy and have them wear their happy masks.
Teaching Feelings Through Stories
After reading a story, ask students which characters felt the feeling being taught, why they felt that way and how they could tell that these characters felt that way. For example, after reading the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," ask students who in the story was angry, why they were angry and how they could tell these characters were angry. Ask students to develop their own stories with characters that feel a similar way, and encourage them to develop why the characters feel that way.
Teaching Feelings Through Personal Experiences and Example
Ask students to share a time when they felt the feeling being taught. Give them a prompt to follow. For example, "It makes me feel sad when __ because __." Later, you can build on these statements. For example, if teaching about feeling scared, ask students how they can conquer their fears. Have them draw a picture of overcoming their fears, or have them act out conquering their fears.
Ask students to identify ways they can handle themselves when they feel the feeling being taught. Have students act out these methods of dealing with their feelings for the class.
Ask students to identify who feels the feeling being taught. For example, have them think of ways they can tell that people or animals are scared. You can also have students act out these ideas for the class.
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