Emotions Wheel Printable for Kids: In today’s post, we will explore what emotions wheels are, we will review some of the most popular ones, and we will share four different emotions wheels for kids to help identify, label and express their feelings, and expand their emotional vocabulary.
“Emotion is a complex chain of loosely connected events that begins with a stimulus and includes feelings, psychological changes, impulses to action and specific, goal-directed behavior … Emotions are not simply linear events, but rather are feedback processes.
The function of emotion is to restore the individual to a state of equilibrium when unexpected or unusual events create disequilibrium.” (“The nature of emotions” Robert Plutchik)
Emotions are complex responses to something a person hears, sees, tastes, smells, touches, remembers, or does. Our emotions can generate:
- affective experiences (pleasure / displeasure)
- cognitive processes (appraisals, labeling)
- physiological adjustments
- goal-directed and adaptive behaviors.
Emotions are so difficult to define that there is no real consensus on a definition.
Sources: A categorized list of emotion definitions (Kleinginna & Kleinginna, 1981)
What is an Emotions Wheel?
Emotions wheels are graphical representations of emotions based on certain criteria.
Emotions wheels have been used as:
- conceptual representations of emotions
- visual measuring tools
- support to build an emotional vocabulary
Plutchik developed the first wheel of emotions but there have been other developments and plenty of adaptations.
Let’s explore some of these graphical representations of emotions.
- Popular Emotions Wheels Examples
- Emotions Wheels for Kids
Emotions Wheels Examples
Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions
Plutchik’s emotions wheel is probably the most famous graphic representation of emotions.
Plutchik came up with this conceptual representation of emotions drawing on the parallelisms between emotions and colors (intensity, gradients, opposites).
Plutchik stated that a color wheel could help visualize the complex concept of emotions:
- Similar emotions could be placed in proximity while opposite emotions could be placed at a 180 degrees distance
- Mixed primary emotions would result in secondary emotions, in a similar way to mixtures of primary colors producing secondary colors
Plutchik suggested eight basic bipolar emotions:
- Joy versus sorrow
- Anger versus fear
- Acceptance versus disgust
- Surprise versus expectancy.
He also added a third dimension, representing the intensity of emotions, rendering a cone-shaped structural model of emotions.
Closer to the center, we find high-intensity emotions, and as we move away from the center locate the lower intensity emotions, within those emotion families.
Plutchik also suggested that we could account for hundreds of emotion terms by mixing two or more emotions at different levels of intensity.
- Joy + Acceptance produces Love
- Disgust + Anger produces Hatred
The Feelings Wheel by Gloria Willcox
Dr Gloria Willcox published her Feelings Wheel in 1982.
In her experience as a psychotherapist, she often encountered clients who lacked the emotional vocabulary to express their feelings.
Inspired by J. Zinker’s description of therapists as artists, and Plutchik’s emotions theory, she came up with her own feelings wheel proposal.
The inner circle represents six common feelings. She initially chose four basic emotions: mad, sad, glad and scared. But decided to expand “glad” into “joyful”, “powerful”, and “peaceful” to create a balance between positive and negative emotions.
Radiating from those six emotions, the feelings wheel presents secondary emotions that relate to the center circle root feelings.
Geneva Wheel of Emotions
The Geneva Emotion Wheel (GEW) is a theoretically derived and empirically tested instrument to measureemotional reactions to objects, events, and situations. (GEW; see Scherer, 2005; Scherer, Fontaine, Sacharin, & Soriano, 2013. Université de Genève)
In the Geneva Wheel of Emotions 20 emotion terms corresponding to emotion families are aligned in a circle, based on two dimensions:
- Valence (unpleasant to pleasant)
- Control (low to high)
There are five degrees of intensity, represented by circles of different sizes, plus a “none” (no emotion felt) and an “other” (different emotion felt) areas in the middle circle of the wheel.
Emotions Wheels (Printables for Kids)
Learning about emotions is an important part of children’s social emotional learning.
Emotions wheels can be useful tools to support a range of emotional learning activities.
I’ve prepared a few emotions wheels printables for kids for this post.
Basic Emotions Wheels
This is a simple wheel representing six basic emotions: anger, surprise, joy, sadness, disgust, and fear.
Illustrations of children provide a scaffold for the identification of those six basic emotions
This is a good starting point to learn about emotions.
I’ve added a second wheel, where those six emotions are graded in different intensities.
We can use this wheel in two different ways:
- We can use the color cues to grade three degrees of intensity for those basic emotions
- We can expand our emotional vocabulary adding degrees of intensity
Plutchik-Inspired Emotions Wheel for Kids
For this modified wheel I’ve taken the same emotions captured in Plutchik’s wheel, but I’ve adapted the emotion words to a more child-friendly vocabulary.
I wanted to use Plutchik Wheel because we:
- add new emotions, additional to the six basic ones
- it opens more possible combinations to discuss mixed feelings.
What happens when we have both happiness and trust? Or sadness and disgust?
Blank Emotions Wheels
I’ve also prepared a couple of blank emotion wheels so that you can:
- add emotions that you may currently be working on
- use emotion words that your kids or students are familiar with.
If you need some inspiration to fill in those blanks, I´ve added the emotion words from our ultimate emotions list.
How to Use Your Emotions Wheels
There are many ways you can use your emotions wheels for kids. These are some ideas:
- Identifying emotional states
You can use your wheel to help kids identify emotional states:
“Today I’m Feeling….”
- Explore your child’s emotions in everyday situations.
We use our basic emotions wheel to discuss everyday situations. for long periods.
My son finds it extremely engaging to go through his own life events, turning the wheel to represent what he may have been feeling in that situation:
“I was happy, but then a balloon exploded, first I got surprised and then afraid because I don’t like balloons popping, but then I got angry”. And, as we discussed how he felt in those situations, we place the wheel in the correct emotion.
- Charades Game
You can spin the wheel and see what feeling comes up. The person who rolled the wheel acts the feeling.
- Develop Emotional Vocabulary / Start conversations about emotions
Spin the wheel and check what emotion comes up.
We can start conversations about that emotion:
-Have you ever felt that emotion? When?
-How did your body feel?
-What were your thoughts?
-What did you do about it?
-How would I explain this emotion to a friend?
- How big are my feelings
Some of these wheels can be used to help describe the intensity of an emotion
💡Fun Idea: The video below shows how to use your emotions wheel printable as a spinning wheel (Video transcript below)
- Print and laminate two copies of your emotions wheel
- Cut out one of the wheels
- Make a hole in the middle of each wheel and insert a split pin (the cut-out wheel is placed on top of the other wheel)
- Now you can spin your emotions wheel!
Other Emotions Resources for Kids
- Emotions Cards for Kids
- Anger Iceberg for Kids (Free PDF)
- Mood Trackers for Kids (Free Printable)
- How to Use a 5-point Anger Scale (Emotion Charts)
- Anger Thermometers (10 different thermometers!)
Emotions Wheel Printable PDF
Download your printable emotions wheels for kid⇓
( I will be very grateful if you pin this article before you leave 😊)