The Imaginary Box
Ask the class to sit in a circle. (This game can be played in the classroom or the hall)
Tell them you are going to imagine there is a large box in front of you.
Every time you tell them what you are going to pull out of the box they have to show the appropriate expression on their face.
Somebody may show “shock” when you are going to pull a snake out of the box, while others might express “excitement”.
(The children must feel that it is safe enough to be truthful about how to react. This game could be followed by a discussion on how we should respect that people have different attitudes and feelings to different situations).
The sort of objects that you pull out of the box might include the following: birthday cake, spider, sharp knife, computer, pet animal, bad news in a letter, stranger etc.
Remind the children that you are not just asking them to show a “happy” or “sad” face. Stress that people use all the muscles in their faces and have many different expressions to indicate that they are worried, surprised, greedy, jealous or upset etc.
Ask the children to identify the objects that they are frightened of. How can they help each other when they are frightened?
Statues With Feelings
Choose some atmospheric music. Ask the children to move around/dance in response to it. When you stop the music call out a “feelings” word. Ask the children to make a statue depicting that feeling. Encourage them to use their whole bodies and not just their faces.
Leave the feeling of being frightened until the end. When the music is playing you could call out different frightening situations, e.g. “You are being chased by a grizzly bear”, “The lights don’t work and you have to creep upstairs in the dark”, “A witch is trying to take you away to her house” etc.
When the music stops they have to take up their “Statues of fear”. So that the children can see what some of the statues look like, ask half the class to sit down to observe the other half who actively participate. Those observing are asked to note any changes in expressions and postures of the statues.
When they look at the statues how does it make them feel? Does it remind them of anything that they may have once felt or experienced?
A discussion may follow which enables the children to share their feelings about the exercise. Draw out that our bodies often “say” far more than our words or expressions. We cannot always hide how we feel. Our feelings often affect our bodies.
The Children observing (or a teacher) could take photos of the children in their statues which could later be printed out. The children could label the photos with the emotion or feelings that are being expressed.
Paper Plate Faces
Distribute paper plates around the class. Ask the children to draw a sad face on one side and a happy face on the other. The faces could be painted. Attach the plates to sticks and ask each child to complete the sentence:
“I felt happy when…”
“I felt sad when…”
while holding up the appropriate side of their plate.
With older children you could draw on other plates to look at emotions such as anger, hate, worried etc.
Image of 3 expressions (happy, sad, mad)