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10-15 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate


Paper, pens, container for slips of paper, timer


To help students practice expressing emotions with their whole body and recognize body language and facial expressions in others

Introduce the concept of charades.

  • Students take turns as actors and draw charade ideas out of a bowl (start with basic emotions and increase the level of difficultly as the year progresses).
  • Once the actor picks a paper, they should read what is on it without telling anyone what it says. If the student has difficulty reading or doesn’t understand the card, explain or have them pick a new paper.
  • The student acts out the emotion charade without using words. You can place a time limit on the acting if it is taking a long time for ideas to be guessed.
  • After each round, have a short discussion about what clues led students to guess that emotion.

NOTE: There are many ways to act out the same emotion because everyone experiences emotions differently. Some people can be reserved, while others are more expressive.

  • To extend the practice, lead a discussion about how the students would handle each emotion:
    • What makes you feel better when you are sad?
    • What would you say to someone that made you angry? etc.
  • Different Version: “How Do You Feel When…?”
    • Instead of emotions, have students write down situations that would elicit an emotion (e.g., a birthday, watching a scary movie), and have them act out the emotions they would experience in those situations.

Children proficiently recognize emotional expressions, and they increasingly use emotional information to

understand their environment, and navigate social interactions with their peers, as they get older (Batty & Taylor, 2006). Students who understand emotions in themselves and others demonstrate higher quality peer interactions, and more prosocial behaviours (Caputi, Lecce, Pagnin, & Banerjee, 2012). When students are given opportunities to practice this skill it improves over time (Pons, Harris, & Doudin 2002).

Batty M., & Taylor, M. J. (2006). The development of emotional face processing during childhood. Developmental Science, 9(2), 207-220. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00480.x

Caputi, M., Lecce, S., Pagnin, A., & Banerjee, R. (2012). Longitudinal effects of theory of mind on later peer relations: The role of prosocial behavior. Developmental Psychology, 48(1), 257.

Pons, F., Harris, P. L., & Doudin, P.-A. (2002). Teaching emotion understanding. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 17(3), 293-304.

Jesus calls us to listen, to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and others, and the various ways in which we communicate our thoughts, feelings and emotions, both explicitly and implicitly.

(2c) An effective communicator who presents information and ideas clearly and honestly and with sensitivity to others.

Demonstrating literacy and mathematics behaviours: to communicate thoughts and feelings through gestures, physical movements, words, symbols, and representations, as well as through the use of a variety of materials