Emotional Regulation Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Emotions are difficult for adults to understand; imagine how hard they can be for your students. The activities in this asset will give your students practice identifying emotions in others and themselves.

Activities for Understanding Emotions

Children are extremely emotive. They have passionate emotions and often switch emotions quickly without true understanding. It is important for children to learn to recognize their emotions and learn how to regulate themselves through acknowledgement of their own feelings.

The activities offered in this asset are designed for lower elementary students to explore emotions and practice recognizing emotions in others.

Pantomime Emotions

Being able to recognize emotions in others is an important skill. This activity allows students to recreate emotions as well as recognize those emotions in others.


  • Cards with emotion words (one set per group). For example:
    • Base level: happy, sad, angry
    • Advanced level: bored, scared, ecstatic


  • Divide your class into groups. The number of students per group should match the number of emotion cards per set. If you are using the advanced-level emotions, combine these with the base level for a broad range of emotions.
  • Give each group a set of cards.
  • Instruct each group to think of a scenario they could act out. Some examples are:
    • A scene from a trip to the library
    • Going shopping
    • At a party
  • Now, each member of the group should select a card. This is the emotion of the character that student is playing in the pantomime.
  • Give your students some time to work out their pantomime, reminding them that a pantomime has no words and must tell the story through actions only. Examples of actions are:
    • An angry customer in a store might yell at the cashier who would be scared of the angry customer.
    • A bored party guest might sit in the corner and sigh while the party goes on.
  • Allow each group to perform their pantomime and then have the class guess which emotion each student was portraying.


  • To make the game harder, do not give sets of the same emotions to each group.

Rainbow of Emotion

Understanding that we all experience many emotions at once is important. In this activity your students will consider all of the things they feel to create a visual expression of their emotional rainbow.


  • Outline images of the human body
  • Coloring tools (markers, crayons, etc.)


  • Have a brief discussion of all the emotions your students can imagine. List them as your students suggest each. Discuss colors that might be associated with each one (like red for angry).
  • Use yourself as an example of how we can have multiple emotions at once. For example, you might say:
    • Right now I am mostly happy, but
    • there was lots of traffic coming to school today so I feel a little bit frustrated, and
    • tomorrow is Saturday so that makes me excited, and
    • Sally is moving so I'm also a little sad to see her leave.
  • Draw an outline on the board and show levels of each emotion filling you up.
  • Hand out the body outlines and instruct your students to create their own rainbow of emotions using the colors chosen for each emotion to show how much of each emotion they are feeling.


  • As this could bring up some hidden, personal information from your students, this activity should be independent and private.

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