Kelley and I work together with a wide variety of students with language, social communication and social behavioral needs and this topic is ongoing for all of these students. In addition, I work with many students with language impairments that have difficulty describing feelings as it relates to others or characters in stories that are read and heard as well as in their own oral and written expression. So, in addition to the groups that we teach together, I have been working on this skill with ALL of my groups. I even managed to incorporate many articulation goals with this lesson, here's how I did it....
We started in our social groups and speech/language groups reading these stories:
The Way I Feel was great with ALL of our young age groups (3 year olds-2nd grade students). It was easy to modify the language throughout the story and match emotions pictures. Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day was was great for students Kindergarten through 2nd grade because it had more words and more details in the pictures throughout the story. How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods was a little too "abstract" for my younger students to recognize the feelings or emotions depicted in the photos, but it was great for my 1st and 2nd grade students. While we read each of these books, we had the Emotions Cue Card handy to match feelings from the book to the photos on the cue card. Additionally, I collected many other Emotions Photos to match feelings and emotions throughout these stories. Several of our students have difficulty understanding and seeing that people depict similar emotions in slightly different ways, so we wanted to offer a variety "faces" for our students to help them see and understand the similarities/differences between faces and feelings. Here is one page of the Emotions Photos that I used for my students to match and describe emotions.
This Emotions Photos document is 4 pages of photos depicting Happy, Sad, Mad/Frustrated, Calm, Scared and Tired. You can grab it here. I turned these photos into cards by cutting the pictures out and laminating them onto large index cards.
While reading all of the Feelings books, we targeted goals such as Answering Basic Questions, Describing details in pictures and using Inference to determine the character's feelings. Each time we read the books, we used the Emotions Photos to match the feelings of the characters. For students in articulation therapy, we continued to use these books and activities and were able to focus on phonemes such as /f, s, sm, sk, l/ to name a few.
After reading each of the stories (over 2-3 sessions), we started making our own book of feelings. With our young kindergarten group, we have several students with low receptive/expressive language skills and poor social communication skills. In this group, we have targeted each emotion in our own book in 1-2 sessions. We started each "emotion exploration" using a computer software program called Faceland.
We LOVE this program because it teaches the students what "clues" to look for on faces to determine the emotion. Each new emotion that is taught is broken into 2-3 facial cues from the eyebrows/forehead, eyes, and mouth. This program also allows the students to see the same emotion depicted in slightly different ways between different people. There are also questions that it asks, and the students have to match the situation to the emotion. For our young students, we often have to act/draw out these questions to help them understand; however, it really helps them learn the feelings. There are even follow up games that go along with each emotion, so it is very engaging!
After going through Faceland, we started making our own book called "My Book of Feelings". Here are some sample pages from this book:
We took pictures of our students depicting the emotion that was stated on each page. This was easiest to do during our Faceland activities for some of our students. Others just needed the Emotions Cue Card or Emotion Photos and a mirror to match their own faces to the feelings. Some students enjoyed taking their picture using the iPad with the camera in "reverse" mode so that they could see themselves making the faces. Still, some of our youngest students (3 year olds) had a hard time making the faces that they were not feeling in the moment, so we improvised by using other pictures or catching them in the act! Needless to say, this was one of the most fun parts of the activity, and all of our students LOVE seeing pictures of themselves in their own books! Here is how one turned out!
Our students with expressive language impairments had some difficulty independently coming up with "things that make me feel ___" so I created a document with pictures for the kids to choose from. A sample of this document is pictured, but you can grab the entire document HERE.
We also found that different students had different feelings about the pictures offered. For example, one of our students feels HAPPY when tying her shoes but another said that this made him feel FRUSTRATED because it was hard for him.
For our youngegst students, we also used the Emotions Photos cards to discuss Similarities and Differences and the "I Feel __ When" cards to Categorize emotions. For our older students in speech/language therapy, we continued expanding this lesson by coming up with synonyms for the feeling words and using them to re-tell or create stories of our own. In their Book of Feelings, we made it harder by having them expand their own stories with their personal experiences.
This has been a great activity for ALL of our students. We have had the opportunity to learn so much about them and they have really improved their ability to describe their feelings and the feelings of others. AND, they will be able to share their books with their families for ongoing conversations at home!
We hope you find these activities useful with the speech, language, and social communication needs of your students! We'd love to know How You Feel about these activities and how we can make them even better!