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Language and Communication Developing the skills to understand and express different emotions  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


We all express and feel emotions differently. These activities and ideas are to support your child or young person who may be having difficulties with communicating different emotions.

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Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:PSHE and Citizenship
P-scales/Curriculum level:L2
TAP skill:Social Interaction
TAP level:TAP72
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Talking about different emotions

- Photographs of different people showing different emotions - you could get these from magazines, newspapers or by internet search.

- Emotion symbols - click here to print.

- Paper and pens

1. Look through the photographs together - talk about what feelings or emotions the person is showing - you may have different answers from each other. Talk about why they may be showing emotions.

2. Can you match the symbols to the emotions. Talk about the differences you notice in peoples' faces.

3. Can you think of times when you felt this emotion - use the paper and pens to write this down. Compare your experiences.

You may want to start with basic emotion words such as happy, sad, cross and excited, before introducing more complex emotion words.

Feeling Dictionary

- Exercise book/note pad/sheets of paper

- Emotion symbols - click here to print. You can draw your own if you prefer.

Make a feelings dictionary together. Write the name of a different emotion on each page, you can also stick a visual symbol on the page. Write a definition of what the emotion means and other words you can use to describe it.

Talk about times you felt those emotions and draw and/or write about them on the emotion page.

Keep adding to the dictionary as you experience different situations and feelings.


Happy: This is when I feel good about something. I might smile or laugh.

Sad: This is when I don't feel good about something. I might cry. I might show I feel this way by being cross.

Angry / cross: This is what I feel when something is not fair, or is bad. I might feel like shouting or punching or doing something to someone.

Bored: This is when I'm not interested in what is happening, and just want it to finish. I might sigh, or lean my head on my hand.

Upset: I might feel like this when something is not fair, or when someone is unkind. I might cry, or feel like shouting.

Frightened / scared: This is what I might feel if I don't know what is happening, or if I am unsafe. I might cry, or scream, or just try not to move. I might want to find someone I know, like my mum or my teacher.

Surprised: this is what I feel when something good happens that I didn't expect. I might smile, open my eyes wide, and say something like 'wow'!

Excited: This is what I feel when I know something good is going to happen soon. I might smile, move around, and keep thinking about what is going to happen.

If you're happy and you know it...

- Emotion symbols (click here to print)or feelings Dictionary (see above)

- Time-line of a day

Explain that you are going to think about when you all feel happy / cross / frightened.

Put all the Feelings symbols in a bag and pull one out / choose a page of the book.

Put that at the top of the time-line. Talk through the day, and what makes you feel that way at that part of the day. E.g. 'I feel happy at breakfast time when I can have coco-pops for breakfast' / 'I feel worried if my bus is late.'

Discuss what you might do to show that you feel that way. What could you do about feeling like that? (e.g. 'Ask my mum if we will be late for school or not')

You could choose a different feeling each day to work through the timeline.

You could also display the timeline, and encourage the child / children to identify how they are feeling at different parts of the day.

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