Identifying feelings

Year level: Pre-primary


Students begin to identify and describe emotions and that people can have different feelings and responses to different situations.

Learning focus

UNESCO: There are many sources of information that help us learn about ourselves, our feelings and our bodies.

Foundation: Understanding emotions: Identify and describe emotional responses people may experience in different situations (ACPPS005).

Key understandings


enlightenedIdentifying and describing the emotions of people who are happy, sad, excited, tired, angry, scared or confused.

enlightenedRecalling and sharing emotional responses to different situations and representing this in a variety of ways.

enlightenedTalk about connections between feelings, body reactions and body language.



General capabilities

No General Capabilities values have been selected.

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) Guides

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

Feelings book

Whole Class

Mat session / On the carpet

A storybook or clip on your interactive whiteboard is utilised to identify and discuss feelings.

1. laugh Say:

"Today we are going to start learning about feelings. We all have feelings - 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."

2. Read a Winnie the Pooh story book or another similar story such as: Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to the class. Or, show  BBC Bitesize Foundation Personal Development and Mutual Understanding. Or "Emotions" - StoryBots Super Songs. The "Feelings and emotions" song from Bitesize is also a fun song to play for children to introduce the idea we all have feelings and that it is okay to express them.

3. laugh During the book or clip 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)

❓ Where do feelings come from? (They are clever signals that help us understand what is happening to us and what we need to do)

4. laugh Say:

"Our feelings can change depending on what is happening to us. Sometimes our feelings can change because of something we have heard or something we have seen. Sometimes our feelings 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 feelings 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 how we are feeling at different times. 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."

5. Brainstorm or discuss with the class how they might feeling using some of the situations below using the Emotion cards. Students could show on their faces how they would feel. Children could be given mirrors so that they can see what their face looks like when they are pretending to feel an emotion. Or they could sit with a partner so that they can see what the other person feels like.

  • 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.

Group activities

Independent or Small Group

Group 1: Give each group the Teaching Resource: Feelings to play with and ask students to cut out and glue the feelings on each side of a cube to make a 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: Children are given play dough or plasticine to make faces showing different expressions. Use the Emotion cards as prompts.
Group 3: Children sit in front of the interactive whiteboard and use the link to play the "Guess the feelings" game.

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

yes Teaching tips:

  • Make sure the group activities are set up before you start the lessons.

  • Allow enough time for the children to pack away, so that there is time for the refection on the mat or carpet.

  • Decide where to place the adults. For example, once the children know the game on the interactive whiteboard, they generally do not need an adult with them. You may also want to consider using iPads so that children can play the game in pairs and / or to use the iPads for drawing emotions (if you do not have paints etc).


Mat session / On the carpet

1. laugh Say:

"Today we have started to learn that all people have feelings. We have also learnt that there are different feelings and that sometimes we can tell what people are feeling by their facial expressions or what they do with their bodies.

2. Options for refection: 

  • Children may want to show their paintings and explain why they chose a particular colour or colours to show a feeling.

  • Children may want to show their model faces and the other children could guess the emotion.

  • Just prior to the end of the lesson, ask the children to show how they are feeling with their faces. You may want to note any children that are showing an unhappy face after the lesson to find out why. However, remember to carefully consider disclosures. See Dealing with disclosures.