Emotional Intelligence Activities for Children

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Helping children develop their emotional intelligence is an important part of teaching and learning. This lesson offers you some activities that will help your students become more emotionally attuned.

Why Emotional Intelligence Activities?

As a teacher, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the many cognitive tasks you have to help your students with. At the same time, though, you are probably aware of the importance of working on emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence refers to the extent to which people understand the feelings of themselves and others. An emotionally intelligent person is well able to regulate his or her behaviors and feelings, handle a variety of complicated social interactions, take risks, and know his or her limits. Often, the time you spend on emotional intelligence will also enhance your academic work because students will feel calmer and better equipped to tackle challenges. The activities in this lesson are designed to help your students with emotional intelligence. They can be modified to meet the needs and abilities of the students in your class.

Feelings Chart

A big part of emotional intelligence has to do with learning the right words to describe specific emotions. One way to help your students with this is to create a feelings chart. Ask your students to list as many different feelings as they can think of. Write them all on a large piece of chart paper. Then, ask your students to help you organize feelings into categories that make sense to them. For instance, 'happy' and 'excited' might belong together, as might 'angry' and 'furious.' Follow your students' lead and try not to correct their groupings. Once they have finished categorizing, break them into small groups to make posters representing each category. The poster should include an illustration of a facial expression and a list of all the words in the category. Hang the posters prominently in your classroom and encourage students to use a wide range of feelings words to describe their emotions over the course of each school day.

Appreciation Activity

Part of being emotionally intelligent is learning how to appreciate yourself and others. Put the names of all of the students in your class into a large plastic bag. Have each student pick out someone else's name. Each student should create an appreciation card for the person whose name he or she drew. The card should tell the peer one specific characteristic that the writer appreciates. Then, gather your students in a circle and have them exchange cards. Give them a chance to reflect on the feelings that come up when doing this activity.

Anger Role Plays

In the classroom context, anger can be one of the most complicated feelings to manage. Anger can lead to oppositional behavior or withdrawal. Explain to your students that there is nothing wrong with feeling angry, but it is important to figure out healthy ways to manage anger. Ask your students to brainstorm a list of realistic scenarios in which a person might get angry. Type their scenarios up and break them into groups to role play these scenarios. Each role play should address questions such as:

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