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Reading Facial Expressions

Games to Help Read Body Cues

Social cues are something children need to become aware of. Reading facial expressions is part of this process.

Emotions Acting

Use emotions acting to read social cues and recognize the emotions of others. It's a fun way to learn emotions. It's called Emotions Acting.

Identifying emotions from people's expressions, tone, pitch, and gestures is the best way to see how the emotion looks. Since everyone has emotions, being aware of them is important to identifying them. Kids grow up know what they are, they just don't really know what they are called.

Here's how to play the acting game to teach kids more about emotions like livid, shock, happy, sad and other emotions.

  1. Think about the emotions you want to include in the routine such as glad, sad, mad, depressed, and other emotions.
  2. Use your imagination! Write all the emotions on a separate piece of paper for each emotion. Throw them in a hat, bowl, or paper bag.
  3. Choose a time limit and set the timer.
  4. Have each child choose a piece of paper and take turns acting out with the pantomimed clues.
  5. Have them focus on facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures. Yes, they can use sounds just not words.
  6. The winner is the team or player who guesses the most emotions.

See also:

  • Learning to Recognize
  • Facial Cues
  • Reading Body Language
  • Emotional Intelligence Games

Reading Facial Expressions

Kids can learn to read facial expressions just like they can learn to speak. It's a skill they will use later in life. They can even play the game with a team of friends on the playground or at home with their brothers and sisters.

A lot of miscommunications are caused by thinking someone is feeling angry and they are really feeling disappointed. Give the kids time to practice watching facial expression and guessing which one they are.

  • You can use picture of people with various facial expressions or take the kids picture pretending to go though the different facial expressions. This exercise is usually for 3rd graders and up.
  • Print the pictures, write the emotion on the back of the print, and have the kids look them over to see if they can guess what emotion it is.
  • After you've gone through all the pictures, talk about when they would be used in everyday life.

You can also give them scenarios of what type of emotions would work for each situation.


Have them try out their skills when they go home to see if they can guess what their parents are feeling. Or take them on a field trip to a department store where there are a lot of people around. See if they can guess the emotions people are showing on the faces.

Have them go through magazines to see if they can find pictures of emotions.

There are tons of emotions they can learn about such as proud, embarrassed, disappointed, frustrated, excited, happiness, sadness and many more.



Reading Facial Expressions

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