Feelings and Emotions: Teaching a Complex Topic in an Age Appropriate Way

Last week’s recap: We traveled the world in the Big Bear Classroom!

Welcome back! If you are new here, every two weeks I write a blog to share with you all the fun, engaging, and educational things my students do in the Big Bear Cub Classroom! I try to focus each of our weeks around a central theme, and then design different activities that reinforce that theme. These activities are also designed to support development of crucial skills such as communication, creativity, math, vocabulary, and self-confidence.

This past week, we took a trip around the world! It was a lot of fun and the Big Bear Cubs learned so much about different countries, cultures, and people from around the world! We read about and looked at pictures of the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer and the Sydney Opera House, just to name a few! We spent time looking at our map to see where these buildings were located and learned some fun facts about them. We also got to taste some traditional cuisines from other cultures which the big bear cubs really enjoyed. If you want to read more about the exciting week of traveling the world you can read my in depth blog here, now on to this week's theme and activities!

This week: feelings and emotions

Our theme for this week was one that is a bit more serious than usual: feelings and emotions. I believe that it is extremely important to develop skills to recognize and understand your feelings and emotions and there is no better time to start than in preschool. Preschoolers are developing so quickly it can sometimes be difficult for them to understand their emotions or why they are feeling a certain way. This week’s theme was designed to help my students learn to understand and navigate their emotions in a positive and encouraging way. Throughout the week the big bear cubs learned ways to express and manage their emotions in a healthy and positive way.

My students took part in literacy activities that helped them build vocabulary and word recognition skills based around topics that relate directly to their daily lives and experiences. We explored what it means to have feelings and emotions via singing, drawing, writing, painting, dancing and listening to music. In my years of experience teaching preschool aged children the younger they start the process of understanding their feelings and emotions the better off they will be.

Emotional development is a process that lasts a lifetime and there are millions of adults that still struggle with this. However, beginning the process early will help your child develop into a thoughtful and mindful person. This week was designed to help my students develop and maintain healthy boundaries with their friends and peers, be respectful to their teachers and parents, and learn to recognize their feelings and emotions. Children who are able to label, express and manage emotions in a healthy manner show incredibly positive outcomes later in life and it is my number one goal to help each and every one of my students be the best possible person they can be! Here are some of our favorite activities for this week in the big bear club classroom.

Understanding and mirroring emotions

Two of my student’s favorite activities this week we're guessing my emotions and mirroring emotions. These two activities went hand in hand and we all had a great time. In the first activity I would express an emotion on my face and my students had to guess what emotion I was trying to portray. The big bear cubs are getting to know me so well that their guesses were quite accurate.

Our next activity was mirroring emotions. This is a great activity for preschoolers helping them develop their communication and interpersonal skills (it's also just a really fun activity for my students!). In this activity I had the Big Bear Cubs partner up and then one student made an emotion while the other student tried to mirror their action. They then named the feeling they were trying to show and talked with each other to discuss their emotions and feelings. All of the Big Bear Cubs were having so much fun that they wanted to keep doing this activity for much longer than I planned!

Art activities

Art is such a great activity for young students to do as it helps develop so many of the skills that are often lacking as students move up to elementary, middle, and high school. Creativity, self-expression, and imagination are just a few of the things that are developed through art and during our theme of feeling and emotions it is an excellent way for my students to express themselves.

We used different colors to express feelings through art, and I explained to my students how certain colors are often used to portray different emotions. However I also explained how art is a form of personal expression and that while red is often used to express anger, some might use red to represent friendship and family. For some of my students the color green meant a feeling of happiness, for others green reminded them of the green grass during Easter egg hunting. One student shouted “ewww green makes me feel gross, it reminds me of green boogers”! I loved hearing about how all of my student’s had their own unique feelings for certain colors.

I also had the Big Bear Cubs draw a picture while listening to different types of music. I played classical music, rock-and-roll, instrumentals, and some techno! I asked my students how the music made them feel while drawing. Some of the responses were “Ms. Sandra, rock and roll music makes me feel happy, like when I’m in the playground”. Classic music made one of my students feel relaxed like a sunny day having a lollipop at the beach.

Literacy Activities

While reading stories aloud, I had the Big Bear Cubs raise their hands when they could tell how a character was feeling and why? A couple of our favorite books of the week were:

-Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, no Good Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

-The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister

The books we read were chosen because they are age appropriate introductions to feeling and emotions, the theme for this week. This theme is obviously very important however the last thing I would ever want to do is overwhelm my students with overly intense or complex messaging. My goal for the week was to gently and positively introduce the big bear cubs to these important themes to start to build a base of knowledge for them to grow off of.

Face tracing

The Big Bear Cubs not only loved this, they didn’t want to stop! In this activity I had them trace over their partners face inside of a plastic box. They absolutely loved doing this over again and wanted to show me the finished product each time. Some of the great benefits of tracing are, it’s fun, it develops fine motor and visual skills, it gives the students a sense of accomplishment when their tracing is accurate, it develops their communications skills, and helps students learn to work together. Overall this was one of my classes favorite activities and I will be sure to bring it back again soon!

Next week in the Big Bear Cubs Classroom: We’re off to Space!

This is ground control to Major Tom, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Blastoff!!! Come join us next week as our big bear cubs will have tons of fun learning our space. I’m so excited to share with you pictures, activities, games and much more all related to one of my students favorite subjects. Space is something that fascinates everyone but especially young students who get to learn just how much stuff is out there. Get ready for an interstellar journey in the Big Bear Cub classroom!

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