Children have the unique tendency to express each emotion they feel as soon as they feel it. It is pretty easy for most adults to determine which emotion is being expressed by a child. However, it may be more of a challenge for a child to identify or understand the emotions being expressed by another child or an adult. This is why teaching children about feelings is a great way to help them relate to others and develop a sense of empathy.
There are many ways to go about teaching children about emotions and feelings. A great way to go about it is to dedicate days to learning about each feeling and or emotion. Many teachers use the station method to teach kids about emotions.
The silly station is for children who are feeling happy and playful. You can set up a dedicated table to explore the concept of happiness. Make puppets with old socks or paper bags. Have the variety of puppets ready to play with and allow your child to take a turn exploring the concept of happiness and how it makes them feel.
Ask your child what it means to be happy or playful and then ask them to act out these feelings of happiness and playfulness using their puppet.
Another great way is to have craft time dedicated to making masks out of paper plates so the children can show their happiness at the silly station.
The cuddle station is for exploring feelings of sadness. Set up some blankets, cushions and stuffed animals. Let the children know that the cuddle spot is where they can go if they are feeling sad. They can invite you to join them to cuddle or feel their emotions along with a stuffed animal.
Ask the child what makes them sad and then talk about what they can do when they are sad to make themselves feel better. Give each child a stuffed animal for a moment of cuddling and ask them if cuddling can help change their feelings from sad to happy.
The steam station is a place where children can let off some steam and express themselves through play. Set up a small table with play dough, crayons, paper, glue and magazine clippings. While playing at the steam station allow the children some time to create a craft of their choice that represents how they feel when they are mad about something.
If during the day a child expresses feelings of anger or frustration the teacher can allow him or her to go to the “Steam Station” to let off some steam.
The glitter jar is also a fun blowing off steam idea. Fill a jar with glitter and water, seal the jar tightly. Let the child shake the jar vigorously and concentrate on their breathing as the glitter settles on the bottom of the jar.
The explore station is dedicated to things that might encourage a child to explore the world around him or her. On a table place a variety of items that will pique their curiosity including a leaf, a Rubik’s cube, a book, a feather, a piece of clay, a plastic jar filled with marbles, manipulative toys, stickers, lego etc.
Then ask each child to pick something that makes them feel curious and then talk about each item with them. The teacher can also ask each child to talk a little bit about why they feel curious about the item they chose.
Emotions can also be explored through creative and artistic play, music, games and storytime. Dedicating a day of the week to a different emotion is an excellent way to ensure a child's understanding of the various emotions a person can feel at any given time.