Feeling Activities for Kids: 50 Social-emotional learning activities to teach kids about feelings and emotions (Many activities mentioned in this article are included in our (Printable) Emotions Mega Bundle!)
Being able to identify, label, express, and manage feelings and emotions plays a crucial role in children’s social and emotional development.
Feelings are at the core of emotional intelligence, as they involve recognizing, understanding, and managing one’s own emotions and the emotions of others.
Mayor and Salovey (1990) described emotional intelligence as the “ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”
Although feelings and emotions are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.
Emotions Vs. Feelings
An emotion is a psychological process. 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’ primary function is to help us adapt to a constantly changing environment.
Feelings are subjective and evaluative experiences evoked by sensations, thoughts, personal beliefs, memories, or images. Feelings are personal inner experiences.
According to the American Psychological Association, feelings differ from emotions in being purely mental, whereas emotions are designed to engage with the world.
Reading these definitions (and many others you may find), you can easily understand the difficulty of differentiating them.
The objective of today’s post is to provide you with a selection of fun activities for kids that can help:
- expand/develop an emotional vocabulary
- identify and label feelings/emotions
- express feelings/emotions
- improve their social skills
- develop social-emotional skills
From that perspective, we will use both terms interchangeably.
50 Fun Feelings Activities for Kids
Feeling activities can help children explore, understand, and express their emotions in a fun and engaging way.
The list of social-emotional activities that you will find below includes plenty of activities to engage kids of different ages, big and small groups, or one-on-one activities.
Remember to adapt these emotion games to the age and developmental level of the children involved.
👉 Many activity ideas listed below are included in our Feelings Printable Pack (Emotions Mega Bundle). Remember to check it out!
Feelings Activities and Games to Expand Kids’ Emotional Vocabulary
1. Emotions Word Search
Create a word search puzzle using emotional words and have kids find and discuss them.
A word search puzzle can help kids learn new emotion/feelings words, and by using this type of interactive activity, the new emotion words may be easier to use and remember in the future.
2. Feelings Crossword Puzzle
This fun activity helps kids learn some feelings definitions.
3. Emotions Word Scramble
An emotions word scramble is a great activity to help kids build their emotional vocabulary and spelling skills
4. Spot The Feelings Words
Spotting feelings words in a written text can help kids understand the importance of emotion words to help us describe and express better how we feel.
5. Synonym Challenge
Ask your students to write as many synonyms as possible for a particular emotion.
Learning emotion synonyms can help better express and understand their feelings. It provides a nuanced vocabulary for describing emotions, enhancing communication and emotional intelligence.
6. Connect The Antonym
Ask your students to identify the antonym for a list of feelings words. It will help them reflect on opposite emotions.
7. Emotions Taboo Game
Taboo is a word-guessing game where players describe a word without using certain “taboo” words or phrases while their teammates guess what it is. It’s a fun and challenging game of communication and wordplay.
In this case, the suggested theme is emotions. Select several emotions, and ask a player to describe them without using a list of “forbidden” words.
8. My Mixed Feelings
Sometimes, we may experience more than one feeling at the same time.
Mixed feelings can be confusing because you’re experiencing different emotions simultaneously.
Identify what new feelings may emerge from two different emotional experiences.
9. A To Z Emotions Words
Try to find emotions or feelings starting with each letter of the alphabet. Discuss what each emotion means.
10. Connect The Feelings
Connect a visual image of an emotion or a feeling face with its label.
Activities to Help Kids Express & Recognize Their Emotions
11. Emotions Spinning Wheel
Emotions wheels can be helpful tools to support various emotional learning activities.
Create a wheel with different emotions. Spin the wheel and start a discussion about:
- Situations that might trigger the feeling that comes up
- How do they feel it in their body and mind
- Coping strategies to deal with big feelings.
We’ve used feelings wheels for emotions activities such as:
- Identifying emotional states
- Explore how a child feels in everyday situations
- Emotions Games (Charades Game)
- Starting conversations about feelings
12. Emotions Role-Play / Pretend Play / Dramatic Play
Emotions role-play creates the perfect opportunity to express a wide range of emotions in a safe environment.
13. Feelings Charades
Act out different emotions and have others guess what you’re feeling.
Playing feelings charades allows kids to display different facial expressions and body language to express different feelings. It’s a fun way to explore how people show their own feelings in different ways and to develop your child’s emotional intelligence.
14. Feelings Check-In
A feelings worksheet is a great resource when teaching emotions.
A “Feelings Check-In” presents a selection of emotions that serve as prompts to help the child identify and process emotions.
15. Feelings Thermometer
Another great tool to help kids express their feelings.
A feelings thermometer is a visual tool that assists kids in:
- communicating emotional states
- labeling their feelings
- expressing intensity or levels of a particular feeling
- understanding how their feelings may change or escalate
- starting conversations about feelings, emotions, triggers, and coping strategies.
Related reading: 11 Anger Thermometers (Printable PDF)
16. Feelings Pictionary
A drawing and guessing emotions game!
Ask kids to draw pictures representing emotions, and their teammates will try to guess what emotion they are drawing within a time limit.
17. Feelings Bingo
Play a bingo game where kids match emotions to the corresponding pictures.
18. Feelings Chart / Emotions Chart
An Emotions Chart is a visual resource that features emoticons, pictures, or face drawings describing different emotions.
Emotions charts are widely used because they provide a simple way to assist young children in identifying, labeling, expressing, and grading their emotions.
Create an emotion chart appropriate for your child or student’s level of development.
- If your kid is still learning to differentiate basic emotions, you may need to start with a sad face and a happy face.
- Suppose you are working on dealing with strong emotions like anger. In that case, you may need a 5-point anger scale that moves from a happy face to an angry face with different levels of anger.
- Or you could work with a chart that shows a broader range of basic emotions. You may opt for a chart with different faces portraying joy, fear, sadness, surprise, and anger.
19. Emotion Drawings
Ask your kids to draw faces with different emotions. For younger children, it can be as simple as emoji-like faces in different colors.
As they grow older, they can start adding more details and identifying the signs that indicate different emotions.
20. Emotion Play Dough
Modeling with playdough is a fun activity that may help kids work on their social and emotional skills, creativity, and fine motor skills.
21. Emotion Sculptures
Use modeling clay to sculpt different emotions.
22. Emotion Art Gallery
Create an art gallery with different artwork representing various emotions.
23. Emotion Diary / Emotions Journal
Keep a journal where kids can write or draw their emotions each day.
24. Emotion Stones
Paint or draw different emotions on stones and use them for storytelling or discussion.
25. Emotion Storytelling / Story-Crafting
Have children create and share stories with different emotions.
26. Emotion Poetry
Can you think about poetry without thinking about emotions?
Encourage kids to write poems about different emotions, using descriptive language and imagery.
27. Emotion Reflections
Have kids write or draw about a recent experience and reflect on their emotions.
28. Emotion Memory Game / Emotions Marching Game
Create a memory game using emotion cards with different emotion faces.
We use our printable emotions cards for this activity. Each time we match a set, we read the definition of the emotion. We ask questions about that emotion (When did you last feel that emotion? How do you recognize it? How does it feel in your body?) It’s a great way to learn different types of emotions and expand emotional vocabulary.
29. Emotion Sorting
Sort pictures or cards into different emotion categories (we use the same feelings cards we mentioned in the previous activity.)
30. Emotions Conversation Starters
And one more feelings activity that we play with our emotions flashcards.
Create a deck with your flashcards.
Take turns taking a feeling card from the deck. Read it aloud and share a situation when you experience that feeling or emotion with others.
31. Feelings Collage
Create a collage using magazine pictures representing different emotions.
32. Emotion Walk
Take a walk and identify different emotions in people’s facial expressions and body language.
33. Feeling Faces Game
Play a game matching facial expressions to different emotions.
34. Emotion Guessing Game
Describe a situation, and kids guess the emotion it might evoke.
35. Emotion Puppets
Make a puppet show to act out a range of emotions.
36. Emotion Mad Libs
Fill in the blanks of a story with different emotions and share the resulting silly stories.
37. Emotion Mirror
This is a fun emotions activity!
Use a handheld mirror and practice making facial expressions to match various emotions.
Or you can also make this a fun class activity by asking your student to stand in front of a large mirror and represent a wide range of feelings.
38. Emotion Mind Maps
Draw a central emotion and create branches with related words, memories, or images that connect to that emotion.
39. Emotions Worksheets
We use our basic emotions worksheets to explore basic emotions and facial expressions and learn how each emotion feels in your body and mind.
(It includes six basic emotions: joy, sadness, anger, disgust, fear and surprise)
40. Mood Charts
A mood chart is a powerful tool that helps keep track of emotions at regular intervals.
Some examples of a mood chart can be as simple as a journal, a printable emotions chart that hangs on the fridge or in their bedroom, or an online app.
A mood chart helps families or teachers identify, track, and be mindful of any big emotions. Whether it is a temper tantrum, excitement or feeling overwhelmed, this tool can help children express their big feelings.
Related reading: Mood Chart for Kids (Printable PDF)
Emotional Regulation Activities
41. Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing is one of the most important self-regulation strategies.
Breathing techniques are powerful tools to help kids learn how to cope with big emotions. Start by having them take a deep breath to release negative emotions. Ask them to picture their feelings in their minds and let their breath release them.
I have a very detailed post with different breathing techniques for kids.
42. Calm Down Yoga
Practicing yoga has multiple benefits for our health and our emotional development.
It offers an opportunity to channel physical energy and physically express emotional states.
Try some fun yoga poses to help channel negative emotions!
43. Calm-Down Jars
A Sensory Bottle (or a Calm Down Jar) is a bottle or jar container usually filled with a liquid solution where different materials can float and flow creating a visually soothing and pleasant experience that may help kids calm down.
Related: DIY Sensory Jars (7 different projects, including soap. oil, and glitter jars)
Other Fun Feelings-Themed Activities
44. Feelings Fortune Teller
Make a fortune teller origami craft with different emotions and have kids play with it.
45. Feelings Scavenger Hunt
Turn this fun game into an emotions activity!
Create a list of emotions and have kids find objects or pictures representing each feeling.
46. Emotion Freeze Dance
Dance to music and freeze in poses that represent different emotions.
Our printable pack also includes some other fun emotions activities, such as:
47. Feelings Sudoku
48. Emotions I-Spy
49. Decode An Emotions Message
50. Acrostic Emotions Poems
51. Coloring my Emotions
Remember to check out the Emotions Mega Bundle!👇