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Emotional Literacy

A Guide to Help Children Express their Feelings

Children go through a lot of ups and downs. Developing their emotional literacy is a key skill to help them feel confident when expressing their feelings.

For some children their life can become unstable or they might start to feel insecure. This can lead to a serious negative impact not only upon the learning process but also upon their life in general.

Children can improve their emotional intelligence in many ways. The starting point is developing the language of emotions. Children develop their literacy in this area in accordance with theiremotional development.

Emotions are very powerful and should not be ignored. Moods are part of life and we should embrace them and manage them to our advantage. Since emotions are known to have such a powerful effect upon children’s learning and general well-being, then children should be taught how to develop their emotional intelligence. 


Developing a bank of words to express emotions or moods is key to developing self awareness. Research shows that just being able to verbalize an emotion helps children to relieve some of the stress associated with it. Recognizing the mood of others by their faces will help kids to manage their relationships with peers.

Activities for Emotional Literacy

Name that Emotion

For this game prepare a list of emotion words that can be cut in pieces. Each person draws one word. The person who can write down the most synonyms is the winner! Or use a mood faces like the one above to name the facial expressions or emotional expressions shown.


Art Response Emotional Literacy Project

Look at various pictures of photos, famous art works or even advertising. Discuss what types of feeling and emotions you sense from the picture. What are the mood words that come up? Children love this activity.


How are you feeling today?

In this activity each person in the family expresses how they are feeling about a family decision. The key idea is to use as many descriptive words to explain precisely what it is that you are feeling. Modeling this activity first for kids is a great way to start off. For example, "When you help me to take care of the garden I am in a good mood and feel proud and happy."

Emotion Cards

Use emotion cards, that is cards with pictures of emotions or mood faces on them to play various games. For example, ask your child to choose three emotion faces that show how they, themselves are feeling today and share this with the family.

Or you could look through the mood face cards together and decide what emotion the faces are showing.

You can also play games like snap with pairs of the emotion cards matching the same facial expressions.


Emotional Literacy

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