emotions activities for preschoolers, teacher showing emotion card to girl sitting at table.
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Emotions Activities for Preschoolers: Engaging and Educational Ideas

Emotions play a significant role in a child's development, and it's essential to introduce activities that help preschoolers understand and manage their feelings. By engaging in activities that focus on emotions, preschoolers can learn to express themselves effectively, identify their feelings, and develop empathy towards others. These skills will not only benefit their personal lives but also lay the foundation for their future social interactions.

In our article, we will explore various activities that have been designed specifically for preschoolers to nurture their emotional intelligence. These activities will cover different aspects, such as recognizing emotions, understanding facial expressions, and managing feelings. We hope that by incorporating these activities into your child's daily routine, they will develop the essential skills needed to navigate their emotional landscape confidently and empathetically.

We're about to embark on an exciting journey filled with emotional activities for preschoolers. Our kiddos might be small, but their feelings certainly aren't! So, roll up your sleeves and prepare to plunge into a world filled with vibrant colors of emotions and feelings.

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Understanding the Importance of Emotions in Preschoolers

Why Does it Matter, Anyway?

Let's face it; emotions can be tricky, even for us adults! Now, imagine being a preschooler, experiencing a flurry of feelings for the first time. It's like being on a rollercoaster ride without knowing what a rollercoaster is! That's where emotions activities for preschoolers step in. These activities not only help kids understand their emotions but also teach them appropriate ways to express and manage them.

When it comes to preschoolers, understanding emotions plays a crucial role in their emotional development and social interactions. As educators and caregivers, we can help children learn about their feelings by providing them with emotional activities and opportunities to express, name, and describe various emotions.

One effective way to help preschoolers grasp the concept of emotions is by introducing emotional vocabulary. For instance, we can create Emotions Write Feelings Charts to teach them words like “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” and “surprised.” Expanding their emotional vocabulary enables them to better communicate their feelings and understand others' emotions as well.

Another essential aspect of understanding emotions is empathy. We can encourage empathy in children by involving them in emotion-based activities and games, such as role-playing scenarios where they have to assume different emotional states. This practice helps them recognize and respond to the feelings of others, fostering a sense of empathy for their peers.

Other emotion-focused activities can also be incorporated into the preschool curriculum, like creating emotion-themed crafts or utilizing picture books that illustrate various feelings and situations. These interactive and visual methods can make learning about emotions enjoyable and engaging for children.

Lastly, one of the crucial components of understanding emotions is providing opportunities for children to express their emotions in a healthy and constructive manner. It's important that we create a safe and nurturing environment where preschoolers feel comfortable expressing themselves and discussing their feelings with peers or grown-ups.

By implementing emotional activities, fostering emotional vocabulary, and promoting empathy in our preschoolers, we can set the foundation for their emotional development and social skills. Remember to always approach these lessons with a confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear tone of voice, allowing children to better comprehend and embrace these critical life skills.

The Impact on Social Skills and Relationships

Think of emotions as a universal language. By learning about emotions early on, children can communicate better, build healthier relationships, and navigate various social situations. What's more, it helps them develop empathy, a critical life skill!

Activities for Identifying Emotions

Helping young children identify different emotions is important for their social and emotional development. By creating a variety of engaging activities, we can make this process fun and interactive. In this section, we will explore some activities that are great for helping preschoolers identify and understand emotions, such as picture activities, matching and memory games, and emotion masks.

Picture Activities

Picture activities are an effective way to teach preschoolers about facial expressions and emotions. We can use emotion faces printed on cards or create our own using craft supplies. By showing these pictures to the children, we help them recognize various expressions and associate them with the corresponding emotions.

We can make this activity more engaging by creating different scenarios with emotion pictures. For example, we might ask the children to choose a facial expression that matches a given situation, like being happy when receiving a gift or sad when losing a toy. These scenarios will help kids understand the context in which emotions are experienced and expressed.

Matching and Memory Games

Matching and memory games are excellent for enhancing preschoolers' cognitive and fine motor skills while also teaching them about emotions. One activity is the free printable emotions matching game, where children must match the emotion cards showing faces to the corresponding emotion word cards. This game not only teaches them to recognize different emotions but also helps them practice their memory and concentration.

Another option for a matching game is to use emotion faces and using corresponding situation cards. We provide a set of facial expression cards and you can create a set of scenario cards. The kids must match the facial expression that goes with a specific situation. This encourages them to think critically about the context in which emotions are experienced.

Emotion Masks

Creating and using emotion masks is a fun and hands-on way for preschoolers to learn about facial expressions. By having them draw different emotions on paper plates and attaching them to popsicle sticks, we engage their creativity while teaching them about emotions. The We Are Teachers activity focuses on four primary emotions: happy, mad, sad, and silly.

Once our emotion masks are created, we can have the children role-play scenarios using their masks. This allows them to practice recognizing and expressing emotions while building their confidence and social skills.

In conclusion, picture activities, matching and memory games, and emotion masks are valuable tools for teaching preschoolers to identify and understand emotions. By incorporating these activities into our lessons, we can help young children develop a strong foundation for their emotional and social well-being.

Emotions Printables

Emotions Faces Printable

Emotions faces printables are a delightful and engaging way to introduce emotions to your preschoolers. These printables, depicting a variety of expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised, provide children a visual understanding of each emotion. They can point to the face that best represents how they're feeling, promoting emotional awareness and expression.

Emotions Chart

An emotions chart serves as an excellent tool for daily check-ins. Place it at a child-friendly height and encourage your preschoolers to identify their current feelings by marking on the chart. This helps in tracking their emotional patterns and opens a dialogue about managing different emotions. You can get your own free emotions chart here.

Social-Emotional Activities

Story-Based Activities

We can use books to help preschoolers explore their emotions and social-emotional skills. For example, we can read a book about feelings and engage the children in discussions on what emotions the characters are experiencing. Creating emotion-themed hats with construction paper is also a fun activity in which kids can wear the emotions demonstrated in the story.

Another option is to use music to supplement story time. Playing a song related to the emotions expressed in a book can enhance the learning experience. This can make it more engaging for the little ones while teaching them about social-emotional skills.

Group Activities

Group activities are essential for teaching preschoolers how to navigate social interactions. Small group exercises, like creating a feelings check-in chart, can help children express their emotions more openly. For instance, students can draw how they feel each day and place their drawings in designated boxes. This helps them understand their own emotions as well as those of their classmates.

Incorporating music and movement into group activities adds excitement to the learning process. Children can act out emotions through dancing and engage in guessing games to identify feelings based on their classmates' movements and facial expressions. This encourages empathy and emotional recognition in a fun, interactive setting.

Role-Playing Scenarios

Role-playing is a powerful tool in teaching social-emotional skills to preschoolers. We can create pretend scenarios using familiar situations like sharing toys in a play area or helping a friend who is sad. Splitting children into small groups can help facilitate these scenarios and encourage active participation. This practice not only teaches kindness and empathy but also allows children to explore different ways of resolving conflicts and understanding the perspectives of others.

Guiding our preschoolers through an array of story-based activities, group exercises, and role-playing scenarios allows them to build essential social-emotional skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. By incorporating creativity, music, and interactive elements, we are empowering children to develop empathy, express their emotions, and navigate their social world with confidence.

Emotions Activities for Preschoolers: Engaging and Educational Ideas

Developing Emotional Vocabulary

Helping preschoolers develop their emotional vocabulary is crucial for their social-emotional development. In this section, we will discuss two effective methods to foster emotional awareness and understanding in young children: Books with Emotional Themes and Interactive Emotional Storytelling.

Books with Emotional Themes

One of the most powerful tools for teaching emotions to kids is by reading stories with characters experiencing varying emotions. Preschoolers can benefit greatly from these types of books as they promote literacy and develop emotional understanding.

Some popular books that address emotions include:

In My Heart: A Book About Feelings by Joe Witek

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr.

The Color Monster: A Story about Emotions by Anna Llenas

When reading these stories, we encourage one-on-one reading sessions to enhance the learning experience. During these sessions, take the time to discuss the emotions that the characters are experiencing and how the actions of the characters relate to their feelings. This will help children connect emotions with actions, facilitating their understanding of various emotions.

Interactive Emotional Storytelling

Another way to engage in emotions activities is through interactive emotional storytelling. This approach involves using various tools and resources to create a more hands-on learning experience. Some great resources for this type of activity include:

  • Emotion cards: These cards allow children to match emotions with images and expressions. By using emotion cards, children have a visual representation of emotions, making it easier for them to understand and retain information.
  • Story stones: Story stones are versatile teaching aids that allow children to create their own stories using picture prompts. To focus on emotions, paint or print images of various emotions on each stone. These stones can be used for various activities, such as matching games or storytelling.
  • Board games: Board games focused on emotions can provide an enjoyable and interactive way of practicing emotional vocabulary. These games often involve reading emotions based on facial expressions, situational context, or character actions. You can check out our emotions board game in this emotions bundle!

In summary, using books and interactive emotional storytelling can significantly help young learners develop their emotional vocabulary. By engaging in these activities regularly, children can better understand, recognize, and express their emotions effectively.

Self-Regulation and Expression Activities

Emotional Monitoring

We believe that emotional monitoring plays a crucial role in developing self-regulation and expression skills for preschoolers. Engaging in emotional activities can help them understand their own feelings and the feelings of others. For instance, practicing happy and sad face expressions using mirrors or illustrations can help children identify various emotions. We also recommend incorporating age-appropriate social skills exercises, such as role-playing activities, to help kids recognize social cues and adapt their behavior accordingly.

Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

Breathing techniques are essential to fostering self-control and emotional balance in young children. In our experience, introducing age-appropriate breathing or relaxation strategies – such as deep belly breathing or guided imagery – can help kids regulate their emotions during challenging situations. We find it useful to engage children with fun, visual aids like bubbles or pinwheels to demonstrate slow, controlled breaths. Practicing these techniques regularly can help preschoolers develop essential coping skills during their early years.

Emotion-Focused Yoga

Incorporating emotion-focused yoga into our preschoolers' routines offers various benefits, including promoting self-regulation, self-control, and emotional awareness. By combining yoga poses with emotions, kids can associate physical movements with emotional states. For instance, pairing a “happy tree” pose with a smiling face enables children to connect the physical act with positive emotion. To enhance the experience, we can utilize stories or scenarios that encourage children to relate the poses to different feelings. Ultimately, integrating emotion-focused yoga into our curriculum helps nurture young minds and instill healthy emotional habits in preschoolers.

child doing calm yoga pose, emotions activities for preschoolers.

Promoting Emotional Development

As parents, guiding our preschool-aged children through their social-emotional development is crucial. We can make this learning process fun and engaging by introducing activities that appeal to their interests. In this section, we'll discuss four effective activities: Beach Ball Expression Activity, Puppet Play, Emotions Discovery Bottles, and Paper Plate Emotion Masks.

Beach Ball Expression Activity

A simple yet effective way to teach children about emotions is by playing the Beach Ball Expression Activity. We can draw different facial expressions on a large beach ball and let our child throw it around. When they catch the ball, ask them to identify the emotion they see where their hands are placed. This activity not only helps develop their emotional vocabulary but also encourages physical activity.

Puppet Play

Puppets are a fantastic tool for encouraging emotional understanding and developing social skills. By incorporating puppet play into our children's daily activities, we can create a safe environment for them to explore different emotions and practice expressing themselves. We can also use puppets to teach our little ones about body language and how to pick up on the feelings of others.

Emotions Discovery Bottles

Emotions Discovery Bottles are a creative way to explore feelings and emotions. We can help our children create these discovery bottles by choosing ingredients that represent various emotions. For example, colored water can represent happiness, while small stones represent anger. As children shake the bottles and observe their contents, they learn to associate the ingredients with corresponding emotions. This can be a great visual and sensory learning experience.

Paper Plate Emotion Masks

Paper Plate Emotion Masks provide a hands-on approach to learning about emotions. By working together with our children to create different facial expressions on paper plates, they build an emotional vocabulary and become more adept at recognizing others' feelings through visual cues. These masks can be used in creative dramatic play, which allows preschoolers to explore and practice expressing different emotions.

Emotion Fine Motor Activities

Fine motor activities, which involve the movement of smaller muscle groups, can play a significant role in teaching children about emotions. Encourage children to draw different facial expressions or use playdough to create 'emotion faces'. These activities improve hand-eye coordination while teaching about different feelings.

Emotion Gross Motor Activities

For a more physically engaging approach, use gross motor activities. For example, a game of ‘Emotion Simon Says' will get the kids moving while learning about emotions. Simon might say, “Simon says, show me how you stomp when you're angry” or “Simon says, jump up and down when you're excited!”

Emotions Arts and Crafts

Feelings Crafts for Preschoolers

Crafting is a creative way to engage preschoolers in learning about emotions. They can create ‘Emotion Masks' using paper plates and craft supplies. Each mask can represent a different emotion, offering a fun, hands-on method of exploring feelings.

Emotions Pretend Play Ideas

Pretend play allows children to role-play different scenarios, which is a powerful way to understand and manage emotions. Setting up a ‘Pretend Doctor's Clinic' can help children explore feelings of empathy, care, and concern.

Emotions Sensory Activities

Sensory activities like ‘Emotion Slime' or ‘Feelings Discovery Bottles' incorporate touch, sight, and sound to explore emotions. These activities allow children to associate different textures, colors, or sounds with various emotions.

Songs about Feelings and Emotions

Songs about feelings for preschoolers

Songs are an effective way to teach about emotions. Tunes like “If You're Happy and You Know It,” “The Feelings Song,” or “I Have Feelings, So Do You” are not only catchy but also effectively teach children about different emotions. Below is our current favorite feelings song on You Tube.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are some effective games for teaching emotions to young children?

There are plenty of games that can effectively teach emotions to young children. One popular activity is playing a matching emotion game where children try to mimic faces depicting different emotions. Another fun game involves drawing feeling faces on the concrete with chalk and having kids trace them with wet paintbrushes to make the faces “disappear,” as described on the OT Toolbox.

How can art projects help preschoolers understand their feelings?

Art projects offer a creative outlet for preschoolers to express and explore their emotions. For instance, children can use clay or playdough to create facial expressions that represent different feelings. By engaging in these art activities, children can gain a better understanding of their own emotions and develop empathy for others.

What are suitable role-playing activities to foster emotional awareness in kids?

Role-playing activities serve as a valuable tool for teaching emotional awareness to children. Kids can act out real-life situations or fictional scenarios that involve various emotions, such as feeling happy, sad, angry, or scared. Through role-playing, children can practice identifying and expressing emotions in a safe and controlled environment, helping them become more emotionally aware.

Which writing activities can improve emotional development for 3-5 year olds?

While 3-5 year olds may not have the writing skills yet, there are activities that can improve emotional development through simple writing tasks. For example, preschoolers can practice connecting words or phrases with emotions, such as “happy” with a smiley face or “sad” with a frowning face. As they grow older and develop better writing skills, they can start expressing their feelings through journaling or storytelling.

How can play-based activities be used to teach emotions in kindergarten?

Play-based activities enable kindergarteners to learn about emotions in a natural and fun way. Examples include puppet shows, where children can express different emotions through the characters, and group games that encourage social interactions and emotional development. Play-based activities create opportunities for children to explore emotions while engaging in creative and imaginative play.

What are practical activities to promote emotional well-being in preschoolers?

Practical activities that promote emotional well-being in preschoolers include regularly discussing and acknowledging their emotions, as suggested by Penn State Extension. Encourage preschoolers to share how they feel about various experiences, and respond with empathy and understanding. Additionally, creating a calming environment with items like sensory bottles or calming jars can help children soothe their emotions when feeling overwhelmed.


Emotional awareness and expression are vital for preschoolers as it not only helps in understanding their feelings but also in empathizing with others. These activities provide a playful yet educational way to explore emotions. By integrating these fun-filled activities into the preschool curriculum, we can foster emotional intelligence from a young age, helping to nurture well-rounded, emotionally aware individuals.

So, pick a few activities and start introducing the world of emotions to your preschoolers in an engaging, comprehensible way. Remember, it's okay for children to experience a wide range of emotions. The goal isn't to eliminate emotions, but to provide tools for understanding and expressing them healthily.

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