Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emotional Animals Game: Teach Kids about Emotions

Just in case you missed my guest post over at Craftionary last week...

I'm sharing with you a tutorial and game that you can play with kids ages 2 through 6. (Older kids would probably enjoy it, too, especially helping teach the younger ones.) Young children tend to relate well to animals. So why not use animals to help teach kids about emotions in a charades-style game?

I graduated with my Master's degree in School Psychology 2 weeks before Little Sweets was born and I became a stay-at-home-mom. Now that she is 2 years old, I've been enjoying finding ways to help her learn to recognize and deal with her emotions.

The Emotional Animals Game is played by rolling the "dice" and acting out whatever you roll. Let's let Little Sweets show you how it's done:

Easy as that!

All you really need for this game is a permanent marker and two square solid-colored blocks from a set like this:

I painted two of Little Sweets' unfinished wood square blocks with some craft store paint, but that is totally optional.

Now you're going to want to pick out some emotions to write on one of your dice. There are four basic emotions, from which most other emotions come: mad, sad, happy and scared. Then there are plenty of other options for you to pick from. Just think about which feelings or states you'd want to teach your child(ren) about.

Next, pick six animals that are relatively easy to mimic. We chose: cat, dog, monkey, cow, mouse and elephant. (Elephant is a little harder than the others...maybe a bird would've been easier?)

Now let's see your best "silly dog"!

Hmmm, what would a scared elephant look like?

This game can also be taken a step further, depending on your child's readiness to explore emotions deeper. For instance, when Little Sweets acts out a mad animal, we can talk about the best ways to handle anger. Put it in terms of how an animal might react because, again, young children tend to relate well to animals.

I hope you and your kids enjoy playing this game and learning about emotions together!


  1. This is a lovely easy game to teach emotions! Great idea!!

  2. Great idea! Little Sweets is adorable! :)

  3. Such a cute idea! I love it! If you have time, I'd love to have you link it up to my party at http://scrapbookingez.blogspot.com/2011/09/one-stop-thursday-linky-party.html. Thanks for sharing!

  4. How very clever! I love it! All my kids are older, but I think that this would be a crack up for them to play none the less. I am thinking that it would be funny to play with adults..:)
    Thanks so much for the inspiration!
    Have a happy weekend!

  5. What a great idea! My almost-3-year-old would love this. It might keep him occupied for a while. I'd love for you to link up to my new linky party -

    Creative Genius @ http://www.thecreativepaige.com

  6. I absolutely love this! I am a homeschool mom and sometimes I need new ideas to keep my preschooler entertained. He's going to get a kick out of this. Thanks so much!

  7. so so sweet and a great game for little ones! I love her expressions - those pics are priceless!!!

    would love for you to share on my linky party - http://momto2poshlildivas.blogspot.com/search/label/Sunday%20Showcase


  8. What a cute idea! I have a background in Early Childhood Education and this would be great at home or in a classroom. I am a new follower from Tatertots and Jello. Vicky @ www.messforless.net

  9. What a great idea!
    And I love the pics of your daughter!

  10. Would LOVE it if you would link this project up at my turquoise lovin' party going on right now!! http://www.sweetlittlegals.com/2011/09/turquoise-lovin-5.html

  11. What a wonderful idea! I also have a little girl just turned 2 years old. I found your site from a link on Home Stories A to Z. Thanks for sharing. Renea.

  12. This is so cute! I'm going to feature it in my Sunday Linky Party this week :)

  13. I used this today! I am a SLP and used it in a social skills group with first and second grade boys who are Autistic. They loved it

  14. Hi Tricia, this is a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  15. Just finding this now, but can't wait to create my own set for my 3 year old ... think my 9 year old will even have fun playing it with her when she is being "mommy's helper"!

  16. Thanks so much for sharing this. My children are going through a bit of a hard time right now and I think this will really help. I know what craft and game we are doing this weekend!

  17. Wonderful idea, I am using these for a social/emotional toddler lesson. I took styrofoam cubes, covered them with pieces of a foam sheet and then covered the edges with decorative duct tape.

  18. Looking for some games to teach emotion words to my young EFL class (We're reading "How do you feel?" by Anthony Browne and this looks like a really good game for them to show understanding of the words used!)

    But I also found this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR_XotqvJZA which I thought you might want to know about? In the video she says she 'created' the game but the video is dated later than your post. I'm sure it's not that much of a bother but I thought I'd share in case you care!


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