Moms and Teachers

As a certified speech-language pathologist, previous Just for Fun editor for MOMSense magazine, and devoted mother of two, I am passionate about helping children discover their strengths and develop their abilities to their greatest potential. If you’d like to provide some fun and developmentally stimulating activities for your children or students, I’ve provided a list of ideas for you here.

Please feel free to add you own ideas to the comments segment, or email with any questions. I’ll be more than happy to help you find ways to connect with your children through fun, educational, positive interactions.

Young children have difficulty expressing abstract concepts such as feelings. They may know when they’re angry or sad or lonely, but they can’t always express those emotions through verbal language. The books, God is with Me through the Day and God is with Me through the Night, help young children understand the universality of emotions by showing photos of animals expressing joy, sadness, fear, loneliness, and love.

 After reading the books, help your children increase their emotional IQ by trying some of these activities.

 Music/Art/Sensory-Motor/Social

 The Many Moods of Music

Play various types of music that convey different moods. Encourage children to move their bodies in happy ways to upbeat tempos versus sad, droopy movements to slower more depressing tunes. Experiment with more aggressive beats and let them stomp their feet to the drums. Be sure to end with a soothing, slow rhythm to help them regain their calm composure before moving to another activity.

 The Moods of an Artist

You can carry this experiment over during art time as well. Playing various music will affect the way children color and draw. Create a bulletin board display throughout the week of Happy Drawings vs. Sad Drawings. Safe Drawings vs. Scary Drawings. Angry Drawings vs. Peaceful Drawings. Use the children’s creations to launch conversations that encourage children to talk through their emotions — reminding kids to use their thinking words, never their mean words and never their hands or their feet, when they need to show how they feel.

 Mood Mosaic

Provide a selection of magazine photos that show various faces of people. Let the children practice their fine motor skills by cutting or tearing photos and gluing them to a piece of construction paper to create a collage. Help them identify how each person in the photos is feeling (happy, sad, tired, bored, scared, worried, etc.)

 Puppet Party

Help children cut out faces of people from magazines and glue them to the top of tongue depressors or plastic spoons to make stick puppets. Try to make puppets with different expressions, and older children can act out various role play scenarios to explore the characters’ emotions.

 Copy Cat

Let each child face a partner. One child makes an emotional gesture (happy, sad, scared, bored, tired, excited, surprised, etc.), and the partner has to mirror the expression. Take turns, and let the children have fun with this silly copy cat game. The teacher may choose to call out the expression each turn. “Now, let’s make a happy face.” But the child still has the choice to smile by showing his/her teeth or not, etc. The partner must try to mimic the exact expression.

 Sensory Smiles

Place shaving cream on a table and let children draw happy faces vs. sad faces at this ooey-gooey sensory center. Try angry, scared, surprised, or sleepy. Help more advanced students write the words in the shaving cream to label each emotion.

Expressive Language

 Hi and Low

At the end of each day, ask a child or two to describe their high point of the day and their low point of the day – the moment when they were happiest and the moment when they felt saddest. Each day, ask a different child to discuss his/her high and low, and help the children understand that there will always be good and bad parts of the day. Focus on the positive.

 Happy Thoughts

Take turns letting children raise their hands to share their happy thoughts. Ask, “What makes you happy? Oh, that’s a great happy thought!” Help them remember to think happy thoughts when they feel afraid or sad. Some happy thoughts might be snuggling with a loved one, playing with a pet, sprinkling lots of colored sprinkles on an ice cream scoop, swimming, or riding bikes.

You may even want to start and end each day with a happy thought. Take turns letting a student who needs a little extra positive attention come up with the thoughts of the day.

Math

Moody Students

Ask each child how s/he feels. Tally the results using various types of graphs (pictograph, bar graph, line graph, pie chart). Categories may include: Happy, Sad, Tired, Scared, Excited, Angry, Peaceful, etc.

Felt Feelings

Make patterns on the felt board using happy vs. sad faces (ABAB, AABB, AAABBB, etc.) and help the children predict the next step of the pattern.

 Match the Moods

Create a memory game using clip art or stickers of emotional faces pasted on index cards. Young children may need sets as small as 6 or 8 cards, while older children can move up to a set of 20 cards (or 10 matching sets).

 Sort the Smiles

Using different photos that express emotions, help the children sort the images into stacks based on the emotional category. Count the number of happy vs. sad faces and see which stack has more vs. less. Add language components to this sorting and counting exercise by helping the children put the cards “in” the bucket, “on” the carpet, or “under” the chair. Other prepositional terms may include: next to, behind, or out of.

Positive Reinforcement
Stickers and Stamps

Most classrooms include some sort of smiley face stickers or stamps in the reward drawer. Make a chart for the week and see how many smiley faces your children can earn for good behavior this week. See if they can make a very Happy Teacher!

Songs and Circle Time

The More We Get Together
Oh, the more we get together,
Together, together,
Oh, the more we get together,
The happier we’ll be.

For your friends are my friends,
And my friends are your friends.
Oh, the more we get together,
The happier we’ll be!

If You’re Happy and You Know it
If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands
If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands
If You’re Happy and You Know it, then your face will surely show it
If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands

Variations:
Angry: Stomp your Feet
Sad: Say boo hoo
Tired: Go to sleep

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