Learn about feelings activities for toddlers to help them explore different emotions. Learn how you can use games, books, and songs to teach facial expressions and help your toddler learn to recognize different emotions.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see the disclosure statement for further details.
Feelings activities for toddlers are an important part of their development and help them to understand themselves better. It is essential that children learn how to identify, express, and manage their feelings from an early age in order to develop healthy coping skills as they grow up. By engaging in feelings activities with toddlers, parents can not only help their child learn about the different emotions but also build a strong bond with them. Through these activities parents can teach their toddler how to recognize feelings in others too, thus helping them become more empathetic individuals.
Why Teaching Feelings to Toddlers is Important
Teaching feelings to toddlers is incredibly important for their emotional development. It helps them to understand themselves better, recognize and express feelings in a healthy way, build strong relationships with others and develop empathy. By teaching feelings to toddlers, parents can help their children to cope more effectively when faced with different emotions and feelings, as well as learn how to build stronger connections with the world around them.
Through feelings activities, toddlers can begin to understand concepts such as frustration, happiness, and sadness. Teaching feelings also helps toddlers develop social-emotional skills such as communication, problem solving and conflict resolution. As children get older they will be able to apply what they have learned about feelings in order to create healthier relationships with peers and family members.
The Benefits of Teaching Feelings to Young Children
Teaching feelings and emotions to toddlers has numerous benefits that can help them in the long run. Not only will they be able to recognize, express, and manage their feelings better, but they will also develop empathy for others.
Teaching feelings from an early age also helps toddlers learn more about themselves, creating greater self-awareness and self-confidence. It provides a safe environment for them to explore emotions without judgement or fear of failure, allowing them to grow at their own pace with the support of their parents or caregivers.
Finally, feelings activities allow toddlers to better understand their emotions so they can make sense of them and communicate effectively with others. All these benefits make teaching feelings an essential part of any toddler’s development that should not be overlooked.
How to Teach Emotions to Toddlers
I know it can feel overwhelming to teach emotions to toddlers and I want to try to help make it a little easier for you. Here are some ideas you can use to help teach your toddler emotions through every day interactions.
Model the Emotions for Them
The number one tool we have in teaching emotions to children is modeling; expressing our own emotions, labeling feelings, and talking about them out loud. Tell children when you are feeling pleasant and tough emotions; we all have feelings and it’s important that children understand that it is a normal experience. Model what you want to see and hear from children. Show and talk about your own facial expressions and the way your head, heart, and body feel as you experience your emotions. Children are always watching and listening, so do your best to model what you want to see from them.
Meet your Child at Their Level
Getting on children’s eye level shows an important message of safety, trust, and care. Move gently, use a calm voice, get down on the child’s level, and make eye contact. Eye contact might be difficult for some children, especially in a state of heightened emotions, so please do not expect them to make eye contact back with you.
Use Supportive Statements
Help young children learn to label their emotions by supporting them with statements like:
“It looks like you are feeling sad that daddy had to go to work”.
“I can tell you are feeling happy with your big smile.”
“It looks like you are frustrated you can’t get your shirt on by yourself”
“It looks like you are angry that you can’t have a cookie right now.”
“It looks like you are mad that your brother took your toy.”
Give them a Safe Space and Permission to Feel all of their Feelings
Giving your child a safe space to feel their emotions means that you will allow them to feel all of their emotions. You don’t want to shut them down when they are crying or angry by saying “stop crying”, or “go to your room” when they are really upset. You want to stay with them and help them work through those emotions with them. If you tell them to stop or send them away to be by themselves they won’t be able o learn healthy ways to deal with their emotions. They will learn to suppress them and that it isn’t okay to feel sad or mad.
Feelings Activities for Toddlers
Helping your toddler to explore different emotions and feelings can also be fun with different games, activities, songs, dance, videos, and toys! Take a look at all of these fun and interactive ways to talk about and explore emotions with toddlers.
2. Puppet Show: Use puppets to act out different feelings and emotions for toddlers to observe and discuss. Talk about the feelings being expressed by each puppet, such as anger, happiness, sadness etc., and how those feelings can be expressed in different ways through body language or facial expressions. You could also make paper plate puppets with different facial expressions to help show the different emotions.
3. Storytelling: Read stories that involve feelings so that toddlers can begin to understand what each emotion feels like in a safe environment free of judgement or fear of failure. Ask questions throughout the story as you go along to encourage your toddler’s understanding of different emotions and how they are experienced by others too!
4. Emotion Charades: Play charades with your toddler using various feeling words such as happy, sad, angry etc., while acting them out for them to guess correctly! This will help your toddler better recognize these words used in daily conversations related to expressing feelings or managing situations effectively involving emotions.
Make Faces with Food
5. Make faces with food: You can use snack time as a fun way to teach emotions. You could use a piece of bread or a rice cake and spread on peanut butter. Then you can use raisins, chocolate chips, banana, or blueberries to make different expressions with the food. You could make angry, happy, or sad faces. If you are wanting to use veggies you could spread hummus on the rice cake and then cut up veggies such as shredded carrots, peppers, or tomatoes to create the different facial expressions.
Emotions Matching Game
6. Emotion Matching Game: Use this free emotions matching game to play with your toddler. You can work on sorting the emotions, making a pair, and talking about the facial expressions. You can also work on talking about daily scenarios where you would feel those certain emotions. Such as you might feel sad or mad if your brother takes your toy or you may feel happy when mom gives you a hug.
Arts and Crafts Projects
7. Arts & Crafts Projects: Set up some art projects that allow toddlers to express their feelings through drawing, painting or other creative activities. Add feelings labels to each project and discuss what feelings your toddler was trying to express in their artwork. This will help them better connect with the feelings they may be having and allow them to express those feelings more easily in words too.
These are just a few of the many feelings activities you can use with toddlers that will help them learn how to recognize and manage their own feelings as well as understand the feelings of others around them. With a little bit of creativity, you can find tons of fun ways to get your toddler learning about emotions!
By using these feelings activities with toddlers, parents and educators can ensure that these young children have the right tools to become emotionally aware individuals who can interact and express themselves in healthy ways. With our help, toddlers can grow up to be well-rounded and emotionally intelligent adults.
Facial Expression Activities for Toddlers to Learn more About Emotions
Teaching your toddler to recognize facial expressions is one step to helping them identify and recognize emotions. Here are some more feeling activity ideas for toddlers to help them learn to recognize facial expressions.
1. Mirror Game: Have your toddler stand in front of a mirror and imitate different facial expressions while talking about what they are feeling. You can also make different faces in the mirror for them to copy you.
Emotion Picture Cards
2. Emotion Pictures: Use these free emotion card pictures to help your toddler learn emotions. Print out the pictures of the kids expressing various emotions, including happy, sad, angry, surprised and scared. Talk to your toddler about the feelings depicted in each picture and how they can relate to them personally.
3. Role-Playing Games: Engage your toddler in role play activities that involve using facial expressions to express feelings or situations such as being afraid or being excited for a surprise birthday party! This will help them better recognize when someone else is showing these feelings through their own body language as well.
Faces Playdough Mats
4. Feeling Faces Playdough Mats: Use these free playdough face mats to help your toddler learn to identify different facial expressions and emotions. Plus playing with playdough has tons of benefits for kids!
Feelings Matching Game
5. Feelings Matching Games: Play this free emotions matching game with your toddler and help them learn to recognize the different facial features for each emotions. Talk about times during the day when you are feeling those emotions.
These feelings activities for toddlers will help them better recognize facial expressions and feelings within themselves and those around them, which is an important part of emotional intelligence that should be developed from a young age. With the right games and activities in place, your little one can become well-versed in expressing their feelings as they grow older.
How to use Facial Expressions and Music to Help Teach Feelings to Toddlers
Facial expressions and music are two great ways to help teach feelings to toddlers. When using facial expressions, make sure your toddler can see how you show different feelings with your face. You could also use puppets or characters in a story to help demonstrate feelings too.
With music, play songs that show different feelings like happy, sad, angry or scared and talk about what the lyrics mean. Also ask your toddler which feelings they think are being expressed in the song and why they think so. These activities will help toddlers understand their own feelings better as well as those of others around them.
Furthermore, by adding a fun and engaging element to feelings activities you will keep your toddler engaged and interested for longer. By incorporating facial expressions and music into feelings activities with toddlers, parents and educators can help these young children learn more about feelings in a way that is enjoyable as well as educational. Not only will your toddler be able to express themselves better, they’ll also be learning valuable lessons in empathy, understanding, self-awareness and emotional intelligence – skills that will stay with them for life!
Music and Songs to Help Teach Emotions to Toddlers
We have put together some of our favorite emotions and feelings songs for you to check out! Songs and music are a great way to help your toddler learn and explore different feelings!
“If You’re Happy and You Know It” by Super Simple Songs
“This is a Happy Face” by Super Simple Songs
“The Feelings Song” by Miss Molly
“Feelings Song” by Mooseclumps
Feelings and Emotions Song Animation with a Little Spot
Videos to Help Teach Emotions to Toddlers
Below I have provided you with some of our favorite videos to watch to learn more about feelings and emotions.
Cosmic Kids Yoga has a great and interactive video to help your toddler learn to explore feelings through yoga! This can be a great video for you to watch and do yoga together.
Ms. Rachel at Songs for Littles has a fun education video about teaching emotions to toddlers and preschoolers! We love watching this together and then talking about the emotions.
We love watching Blippi videos at our house. He has a fun and interactive video teaching toddlers and preschoolers all about feelings. You can check it out below.
We love watching Sesame Street and they have several fun videos to talk about feelings and emotions for toddlers. You can check out this cute one with Elmo below.
Feelings Toys to Help your Toddler Learn Emotions While Playing
A Little Spot of Feelings
A Little Spot of Feelings comes with 9 plush toys and a corresponding activity book. This set will encourage your child to process negative emotions as well as positive emotions in a fun and engaging, hands-on way.
All About Me Feelings Activity Set
All About Me Feelings Set is a fun social emotional learning game for toddlers and preschoolers. They offer a fun way to talk about feelings and learn to identify different emotions. They can also work on counting, sorting, and colors.
Feelings Bean Bags
Use these adorable feelings bean bags to help your toddler identify different emotions with tons of different games and activity ideas!
This Feelings Pineapple toy can help your child learn to make different faces with 26 pieces. They can learn to recognize and express their emotions and allow opportunities for you to talk about the emotions with them. They can also develop fine motor skills by putting the pieces into the pineapple.
Feelings Activity Set
Use this Feelings Activity Set to help your Toddler learn a variety of emotions and feelings. The game includes 2 plastic question cubes, 4 plastic character cubes, 12 character cards, 18 ABA flashcards, and 1 feelings poster. Identify feelings with the situation and character cards, explore empathy and self awareness with the 2 question cubes, and character cubes allow kids to match facial expressions to body language.
Ways Parents can Encourage their Toddler’s Feelings Exploration at Home
Parents can help their toddlers explore feelings by doing activities like sorting pictures according to feelings or playing a guessing game about feelings. Parents can also make an emotion chart or feelings book with their toddler to learn more about feelings.
1. Create a feelings chart with pictures or drawings of different feelings.
2. Play feelings guessing games together, such as charades or “I spy” emotion recognition games.
3. Have conversations about feelings and emotions.
4. Make a feelings book together using photos of family members expressing different feelings.
5. Sort pictures according to emotions (happy, sad, angry).
6. Read stories that explore how characters are feeling in different situations.
7. Sing songs that emphasize feelings like happiness and love.
8. Role play scenarios where parents can model appropriate ways of responding to certain emotions.
9. Participate in activities outside the home that promote empathy, such as volunteer work.
Books to Teach Toddlers about Feelings
Grumpy Monkey :Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it–how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They have lots of suggestions for how to make him feel better. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy?
The Color Monster
The Color Monster : One day, Color Monster wakes up feeling very confused. His emotions are all over the place; he feels angry, happy, calm, sad, and scared all at once! To help him, a little girl shows him what each feeling means through color. As this adorable monster learns to sort and define his mixed up emotions, he gains self-awareness and peace as a result.
The Feelings Book
The Feelings Book: Vibrantly illustrates the wide range of moods we all experience. Kids and adults will appreciate Todd Parr’s quirky intelligence as he pays special attention to the ever-changing, sometimes nonsensical emotions that we all feel. Targeted to young children first beginning to read, this book will inspire kids to discuss their multitude of feelings in a kid-friendly, accessible format, told through Parr’s trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes.
How Do you Feel?
How Do you Feel?: There are a lot of emotions on the playground. A girl is happy when playing with a puppy. Another girl is angry when a boy knocks over her drink. And the boy who knocked over the drink is sorry.
The Benefits of Introducing Feeling Activities Early on in Life
Introducing feelings activities to toddlers is an important part of helping them develop emotional intelligence. By incorporating feelings activities into their daily lives, toddlers will learn to recognize facial expressions and feelings more easily, as well as understand how different feelings can be expressed through body language and facial expressions.
Games such as feelings guessing games and feelings charades are also great tools for teaching emotions in a fun and interactive way. Additionally, feelings memory games help children remember how each feeling looks like so they can quickly find its pair before their opponents do. Such activities not only foster emotional development from a young age, but also allow children to gain critical life skills that will better prepare them for the future.
Furthermore, by introducing feelings activities early on in life, parents have the potential to make a significant impact on their toddler’s mental health and wellbeing. You can learn more about the emotional needs of a child here.
I also think it is important to learn about the emotional stages of development to really understand your toddlers emotional development and how to help them at each stage. You can learn more about the emotional stages here.
Resources for Teaching Toddlers Emotions
Social-Emotional Learning Materials from Edutopia