2. Identifying feelings

Time to complete 2. Identifying feelings: 60 min

Year level: Pre-primary


Students identify and describe emotions and develop an understanding that people can have different feelings and responses to different situations.

Learning focus

Emotional responses individuals may experience in different situations. such as feeling: happy,  sad, excited, tired, angry, scared, confused.

Appropriate language and actions to communicate feelings in different situations. (ACPPS005).

International Technical Guidance 2.3, 7.1

Key understandings

enlightenedPeople can feel different emotions in different situations - happy, sad, excited, tired, angry, scared or confused.

enlightenedEmotions can be shown through facial expressions, body language, sounds and words.

enlightenedEmotions are signals that help us understand what is happening to us and what we need to do.


General capabilities

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Health and physical education(P)

Personal, social and community health

This strand will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills to support a positive sense of self, to effectively respond to life events and transitions and to engage in their learning. Effective communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills are integral to this strand as they help to establish and maintain relationships in family, school, peer group and community settings, support healthy and safer behaviours, and enable advocacy. Students will source and examine a range of health information, products, services and policies, and evaluate their impact on individual and community health and safety.

Mental health and wellbeing

Blooms revised taxonomy

No Blooms values have been selected.

Inquiry learning phase

No Inquiry Learning phase values have been selected.

Related items

Teaching resource (download)

Before you get started

  • Protective interrupting - Teachers need to know and understand how to use this technique to prevent students form potentially disclosing sensitive information or abuse in front of other students.

  • Dealing with disclosures - Teachers must be aware of the school and legal procedures if a student discloses personal issues, particularly disclosures of sexual abuse.

Learning activities

Group agreement

Time to complete Group agreement: 5 min

yes Teaching tip: group agreement must be established before any RSE program begins to ensure a safe learning environment. Read Essential information: Establishing a group agreement for tips on how to create one and what to include.

  1. Revise the class group agreement.

Feelings book/video/song

Time to complete Feelings book/video/song: 10 min

Mat session / On the carpet

  1. Read a Winnie the Pooh story or other book listed in the materials section.

  2. laugh Ask:

❓ What feelings can you spot? For example, can you see happy, sad, excited, tired, angry, scared or confused? (Write them on the board or on strips of cardboard and read to the children and explain that another word for feelings is 'emotions')

(sad, angry, frustrated, happy, excited, upset, grumpy, etc)

❓ How can you tell they are feeling these emotions?

(face, mouth turned up/down, sad eyes, crying, shoulders slumped, head hung down, smiling, laughing, shouting, sighing, etc)

❓ Why do we have feelings/emotions?

(To show how we feel, to show others how we feel, to understand what is happening inside our body, to help keep up safe).

Explanation - what are emotions?

Time to complete Explanation - what are emotions?: 5 min

  1. laugh Say:

"Feelings are also called emotions.

Emotions are are important body signals that help us to understand what is happening to us and what we need to do.

We all have emotions - they are part of everyone.

We feel different things at different times depending on what happens to us.

Sometimes we feel sad - like when someone we love goes away.

Sometimes we feel happy - like when we are having fun with friends.

Everyone is different. What does not upset one person, may be very upsetting for another person. What makes one person happy, may not make another person feel this way. 

Even though some emotions don't make us feel good at the time, there are no 'bad' emotions because they are all useful.

For example, we may feel scared to ride our bike with no trainer wheels but this feeling helps our bodies to stay alert so we can concentrate on learning this new skill and keep safe."

Discussion - emotions change

Time to complete Discussion - emotions change: 5 min

  1. laugh Ask:

❓ Did Winnie's (or other character in the book) feelings change during the story?

(yes, he got sad when he lost his honey; yes, he was upset when he saw Eeyore upset, etc)

❓ How did you know that Winne's feelings changed?

(he put his head down, he frowned, he cried, he sighed, he said, 'Oh bother', etc).

  1.  laugh Say:

"Our emotions can change depending on what is happening to us.

Sometimes our emotions can change because of something we have heard or something we have seen.

Sometimes our emotions can change because we have not had enough sleep, or we are hungry, or because we are feeling too hot or too cold.

Sometimes our emotions can change and we are not sure why.

Today, we are going to spend some time thinking and learning about the words we can use to describe different emotions.

It is also helpful to think about how we can work out how another person is feeling too by listening to their words and what they are saying, as well as looking at their faces and other things people do to share how they are feeling."

Mirrors - facial expression and body language

Time to complete Mirrors - facial expression and body language: 10 min

  1. Give each student a mirror or have them stand with a partner face-to-face so that they can see the facial expressions and body language of their partner.

  2. Work through the following list of scenarios and have students show how someone might feel for each. Ask the students to describe the emotion they are feeling. Write the words on the board and group similar emotions. You may wish to use a display such as the Emotions cards as visuals to go with the words. 

yes Teaching tip: It is important to accept a range of emotions for each scenario. Some students may feel embarrassed to get a merit certificate while others feel proud. Some might feel disappointed that they didn't get a present they were longing for.

Acknowledge that it is possible to feel more than one type of emotion at once. Someone cal fell proud for receiving a prize for their drawing but shy to go up and receive the award in front of the school. 

  • opening birthday presents

  • receiving a merit certificate or award

  • being sick with a cold

  • being teased or not allowed to play in a game

  • playing their favourite game

  • someone getting a toy that you really wanted

  • getting lost in a shopping centre

  • dropping an ice cream on the ground

  • riding a roller coaster

  • floating in the deep end of a pool

  • winning a prize for your drawing

  • hearing thunder when in bed.

yes Teaching tip: You may wish to use Glenn Trigg's Emotion Wheel as a teacher reference to help you to expand the students vocabulary and provide words for emotion intensity (e.g. sad - upset - miserable). 

Group activities

Time to complete Group activities: 20 min

  1. Small group activities 
Group 1: Feelings cube
  • Give the group a Teaching Resource: Feelings cube. 

  • Each student takes a turn to roll the cube.

  • Once rolled, the group may suggest different situations when people may have experienced this feeling.

yes Teaching tip: Remind students to use the phrase 'someone might feel...' rather than 'I feel...' to avoid potential disclosures in front of other children.

Group 2: Playdough faces
  • Students use play dough or plasticine to make faces showing different expressions. Use the Emotion cards can be used as prompts.

Group 3: Guess the feelings website game 
  • Students sit in front of the interactive whiteboard and use the link to play the "Guess the feelings" game.

  • Alternatively, students could play this in pairs or small groups with a computer or tablet. 

Group 4: Painting emotion shapes and colours
  • Set up paper and paints, so that the children can show with colour how they are feeling today. 


Time to complete : 5 min

  1.  Invite students to share their paintings and explain why they chose a particular or shape to show a feeling.

yes Teaching tip: The group agreement 'right to pass' is very important in activities such as these. Students should be invited to volunteer to share their work rather than asked to share work and feelings to avoid putting them on the spot to share things they do not feel comfortable sharing with the class. 

yes Teaching tip: Adults in the room must consider the potential for disclosures when asking students about their work.

  1. Model to the class how you are feeling using facial expressions and body language. Ask the students to use the words on the board to describe how they think you are feeling.

  2. Invite the students to  show how they are feeling with their faces and bodies. You may want to note any children that are showing an unhappy face to approach them after the lesson.