Affective Domain Activities for Preschoolers

The affective domain involves social and emotional intelligence.
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Bloom’s taxonomy identifies three domains in which development occurs. The cognitive domain accounts for mental skills and knowledge. The psychomotor domain is responsible for manual or physical activity, and the affective domain involves social and emotional intelligence. By developing in the affective domain, children are better able to understand themselves and their feelings and to more accurately decipher the feelings of others.

1 Music and Emotions

Sharing music with preschool children is one affective domain activity. Playing music during difficult transition times, like the morning drop-off when parents are leaving or at nap time, teaches children how to calm and soothe themselves. Playing the "freeze" game, which requires children to move when the music is playing and become still when it stops, also gives preschoolers a chance to practice self-control and self-regulation. Singing about emotions (If you’re happy and you know it…, if you’re sad and you know it…) allows preschoolers to identify with an emotion and display an appropriate action associated with that emotion.

2 Instrument Exploration

A music center with traditional and nontraditional instruments can be used for affective domain activities. Give preschoolers instruments and ask them to make music in response to an announced feeling. Call an emotion, and let the children respond with the appropriate tempo and volume on their instruments. Emotions might include silly, calm, safe, relaxed, proud, excited, angry, embarrassed, worried, surprised or sad. Extend the lesson by reading scenarios aloud. One scenario might ask the children to make sounds on their instruments that show how they feel when all the swings are taken at recess or when the teacher holds up their artwork for everyone to see. A parade around the room with the instruments nurtures early friendships, as there aren’t any winners and losers associated with these activities.

3 Game On

Familiar games can be tailored to help children build an emotional vocabulary to express their feelings. Find drawings of children’s faces representing different emotions and come up with corresponding words to describe the expressions. The faces and words can be used to play bingo, make dice and build a spinner. Expression Bingo uses pictures in the place of numbers on the Bingo card. Pull a card with an expression out of a bag, and have the children identify the feeling, make the expression on their faces, and place a marker on the appropriate place on the Bingo card. To make dice, print the faces and words, and glue one on each side of a cube-shaped collapsible gift box. Have children toss the box like dice. Read the word for the face on top, or have the children interpret the expression. Instead of a die, you can use the same pictures to make a game spinner board. Have children spin the spinner and identify the expression it points to. Talk about book characters that experienced that feeling, or have children share stories about times when they felt that way.

4 Follow Up

Incorporate affective domain activities, such as check-in boards and journaling, into the daily routine to encourage children to communicate their feelings. Create a check-in board where children can place their name tag or photo next to a facial expression. Follow up with children about the emotion they chose. At various points throughout the day, allow children to move their name tags as their feelings change. Class journals or individual journals can also be used to capture students’ feelings. Have children contribute words for text about emotions and emotional triggers for a class journal. Allow children to draw pictures representing specific feelings in their individual journals.

Shelley McKinley has experience as a principal, assistant principal, science teacher and central office administrator. She began writing education-related articles in 2011 and was referenced in the Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification in 2012. McKinley holds a Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Texas Southern University.