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Language and Communication Differentiate between similar emotions  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To understand the difference between often confused emotions in a situational context, e.g. 'surprised / shocked', 'upset / angry'.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum skill:PSHE and Citizenship
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum level:L2
TAP skill:Social Skills
TAP level:TAP72
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Emotions and situations pictures

6 baseboards each showing a photograph of a different emotion

4 situation cards for each emotion

Blacksheep press produce a ready made pack of situations and emotions.

Discuss the different emotions shown on the baseboards.

Choose two boards to start with, from the combinations opposite, and lay them out on the table.

Put the relevant situations cards into a bag or box. Take it in turns to pull one out, describe the situation, and put it on one of the two boards.

When one board is full, declare that one the 'winner'. Discuss times when you and the child have felt like that, or what might make you feel like that. Talk about what the people in the pictures could do, and what you could do when you feel that way.

Contrasting emotions to start with:

frightened - worried

bored - cross

cross - sad

happy - bored

worried - cross

frightened - cross

To make this more difficult, use more boards.

You could deliberately put a situation on the wrong board, and see if the child notices.


Notebook / flashcards



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...

Flash cards or definitions book (see "Definitions" activity)

Time-line of a day

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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