Social and emotional activities in the classroom

I’m always excited to share new ideas about social and emotional learning activities in the classroom.  In this blog, I will give some suggestions about how to use the Dealing in Feelings emotions cards when you are planning activities for social and emotional learning. When I designed these cards, I intentionally made a double set so there would be a matching pair for each of the 26 emotions. I knew it would ensure that the card pack was much more versatile and they are lots of ways you can use them to promote learning about emotions.

Here are some social and emotional learning activities using the Dealing in Feelings cards that you can use in your classroom or with small groups of children.

Feelings are a big deal!




A great way to help encourage kids to notice and think about their emotions is to have a morning feelings check-in for the entire class.

A simple way to do this visually, is to put up a selection of the emotion cards across a whiteboard at child height. Each morning as the students come into class, ask them to walk past the whiteboard and stop and indicate how they are feeling. You can explain to the class that we often have more than one feeling at a time, for example, we might be worried about performing at assembly but excited at the same time.

You can use marker pens and have each student put a tick under the emotion face(s) that best show how they feel.

It’s also useful to ask them to check in again later in the day, maybe after lunch. This is a good introduction to explaining to the class that our feelings are always changing and different feelings come and go throughout our day.

Whiteboard using Dealing in Feelings cards

Custom Feelings Check in


This is a simple and fun way to help your students focus on how emotions are expressed by facial expressions and body language. Explain to the class that you have made a special Feelings Envelope and that you have chosen 3-4 emotion cards and put them into the Feelings Envelope.

Tell the class that you are not going to tell them what the emotion cards in the envelope are, but instead, you are going to act out a story about those feelings. They are going to have to watch you carefully, paying attention to your face and your body.

Mime a short and simple scenario making sure you are very animated with your facial expressions and body language. Then ask the children to guess what the scenario was about and which feelings they recognised in the scenario.

Select a student to open the Feelings Envelope to see if the class correctly guessed which emotions cards were in the envelope. Talk about how they could tell which feelings you were showing them.

Guess the Feeling envelope



This activity is an ideal way to use your Dealing in Feelings emotions card pairs.

(With younger children you may want to only use the cards that depict the first emotions that children can easily recognise rather than the more complex emotions. I suggest starting with happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised, silly, calm, shy, worried, excited, disgusted, bored, and grumpy).

Before the game begins, gather students together in a group and show them each of the Dealing in Feelings emotion cards that you have selected. Have them practice making a face just like the emotion on each of the cards. Hand each student their own emotion card and tell them not to show it to anyone else.

Next have the students walk around the classroom or outside making the feeling face that matches the one on their card. Tell them that as they are walking around they must also pay attention to the faces of other children around them because they are looking for their “feeling buddy”. That is another student who seems to be showing the same feeling face as them.

Once everyone thinks they have found their matching feeling buddy, they check their cards to see if they are right. Swap the cards around and play a few rounds to give the kids a chance to try out different feelings. (Based on Pocket of Preschool activity).

Dealing in Feelings emotions cards

Match My Feelings Buddy


Julie Dini is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist from South Australia who loves helping little kids with their emotions. She created Dealing in Feelings and is the author of Feelings and Me, a fun picture book for preschoolers all about emotions.