Did you know that a child's ability to identify and manage his/her feeling/emotions effectively boosts his/her self-esteem and confidence and it has been proven to also help him/her achieve higher academic levels. So discussing feelings in a preschool classroom is very important. I wanted to find a way to discuss feelings with the children and to introduce them to new words in order to equip them to communicate and deal with their emotions. I wanted them to become aware of what happens is someone feels happy or sad or isolated. What are the signs?What makes us sad or hapy? etc...
Of course, a good place to start is in books because they are an engaging way to introduce new concepts. Everytime we read a new story, we make sure to discuss the various characters and how they felt or responded to their emotions. Here are a few of the books I like to use too to introduce vocabulary:
Playing games is also another great way to learn about feelings. I encourage you to visit the resources on Feeleez .They will explain you much better than me why it is important to teach children about feelings. They show many games that can be played to encourage parents and children explore emotions together. This is how I got the idea to create my own emotion cards for our classroom: it appears that associating feelings with corresponding facial expressions helps children to learn about themselves, to learn empathy and to understand what other children feel.
SO this week, we have been using our emotion cards for the first time and this has been so much fun. I have been blown away with the children's statements and understanding of what an emotion is. I basically how them a card and ask them to describe what they see. If the card depicts a child happy, I ask them what makes them happy: playing with my friend, watching tv, reading a book, getting new colouring pens, playing hide and seek etc... A child explains that sometimes when she laughs too much, she cries but she made sure to explain that this was not becaus she was sad. She simply said "sometimes when you laugh too much, you cry but you cry because you are having fun!!"... The list of comments is endless and really, I should write them down as the children speak. The discussions are so vivid, so exciting, so enriching! I have been blown away. Children have so much to share and they DO love talking about what they feel, and why they feel this way!!!
Today, I actually asked them to describe their mood. I had glued magnets behind my cards so that I could use them on our magnetic board at circle time. They all agreed that they were "happy, playful". Then someone added that they felt loved because their mam gave them a big hug before they left them at preschool. So I used our card titled "loved/loving". And when I tought we were finished, a little girl put her hand up and simply said: " today, I am also excited". I asked: "what are you excited about honey?" and she smiled back at me and said: "I was excited because I was coming to preschool to play!!".... SO SO SO sweet!!!