For young children, identifying and dealing with emotions can be quite challenging. Youngsters must often contend with an array of feelings with which they are unfamiliar. By engaging students in emotion themed games, teachers can help children begin to understand what emotions are and that everyone experiences emotions, both positive and negative.

Emotion/Face Match Up

Challenge students to match emotion with expression in an Emotion/Face Match-Up game. To prepare this game, gather images of real or illustrated faces displaying emotions of happiness, sadness, disgust and surprise. Print or copy these images, clip them out and glue them to the back of index cards. Type or write emotions shown on these faces on a separate set of index cards. Mix your face and emotion cards together.

When students arrive in class, spread the cards out face down in the center of the floor or table. Allow students to take turns turning over two cards at a time. If a student turns over an emotion word and a matching face, allow him to keep the pair. If he does not turn over a match, instruct him to turn the cards back over. Continue in this fashion, alternating turns, until all cards have been picked up. The player with the most correct matches wins the game.

Tommy Feels...

Encourage students to consider the situations that elicit specific emotions through the completion of a "Tommy Feels..." game. To create this game, type out a list of scenarios, each featuring a character named Tommy, that may elicit emotion. End each scenario with "Tommy Feels"... For example, you could write, "Tommy had finished his homework. He worked all day to ensure that it was done just right. Then, as Tommy was walking to school, he dropped his book bag in a puddle. He tried to grab it, but by the time he did his book bag -- and homework -- were drenched. Now Tommy feels..." After writing your scenarios, write the emotions that the scenarios would elicit on separate sheets of cardstock. Tape the card stock sheets to a classroom wall or chalkboard.

When students arrive in class, line them up against the wall opposite the wall on which the emotions are taped. Tell students that you will read them a series of situations featuring a boy named Tommy. Once you finish each situation, they must run over to the wall featuring emotions and remove the card that holds the proper emotion, bringing it to you. Reward any student who retrieves the right emotion, and ask him to sit down so that others can attempt the task.

Emotion Unscramble

Familiarize your students with common emotions through an "Emotion Unscramble" game. To prepare this game, type out common emotions in large font. Print each emotion on a different colored sheet of construction paper or cardstock. Clip apart the letters that spell out each emotion. Place all of your letters in a large bag. Create five identical bags, each containing scrambled emotion terms.

When students arrive in class, divide them into groups of three or four. Provide each group with a bag, and instruct them to move through the bag and unscramble the emotion words using the letters provided. Reward the team that finishes the task first.