One of the best ways we have found to introduce emotions is having a basic self-regulation “check in” for our sign in routine every morning. It has made a world of difference in children understanding how they feel.
Throughout the day the kids can come back and move their picture to its appropriate location as needed. It is fascinating to watch them check in as they realize that their emotions are changing throughout the day. I am amazed at how reflective and observant many students are. I often see children who have moved their picture to sad and then seen friends come to help support them and ask if they want to play. I am often in awe at how frequently children want to help each other.
As the year progresses we change and eventually add more emotions as we teach them to the students. We will then teach them more strategies to help them deal with their emotions in age appropriate ways. I use the product “This is how I feel,” shown below, for our check in for my class. It allows me to have kid friendly images for my students as we learn about the emotions one at a time.
I teach each emotion in isolation and usually read a book with a fiction character about the emotion to help kids understand it better. We then brainstorm together what makes us feel that emotion and why. At first there is a lot of copying of ideas but as children are more aware of their emotions they love to share their original ideas.
As you can see in the image below I will put out chart paper during learning center time and allow students to represent through pictures or words what makes them feel an emotion. We then share our ideas with the class afterward and post their thoughts in the classroom. They love reading these, as they remember all the situations, and reflecting upon how they are the same or different from their friends. This is the best type of learning for me as I firmly believe that children learn best from each other.
In order to create the barriers between the three options, we use electrical tape as it easily is removed from magnetic white boards. The photos we use are the smallest size we can print in a collage at our local grocery store. 9 images can be printed on a 4″*6″ sheet.
Magnetic Photo Options:
Photo sleeves can be cut to fit the size of the images you are using and taped along the edges to stay secure. I have found these at the Dollar Store. Photos can be attached to juice lids glue magnets to the back. I have also found at the Dollar Store full magnetic sheets for photos which can be attached cut. I’ve used all three options in the past. This year I am using the magnetic sheets as it was the cheapest option from the Dollar store and I didn’t have enough juice lids! They worked great but were easily lost.