Reading emotions in others

Year level: 2


Students identify external body cues and verbal cues that people demonstrate when they are feeling a range of emotions. They identify how to ‘look’ and ‘listen’ to read these emotions in others and practise reading emotions in others in role-play situations. 

Learning focus

Reading emotions in others.

Key understandings

  • Feelings, even uncomfortable ones, are useful.

  • We all have many feelings and we may feel differently in the same situation.

  • There are no right or wrong feelings.

  • There are a range of external and internal body signals that indicate how we and others are feeling.

  • Being able to read others’ emotions helps us to get on with them.

  • Listening to the words others' use, watching their facial expressions and looking at their body language help us to read others’ emotions.

  • We need to be considerate and respect others' feelings.


  • Picture book where characters show a range of feelings
  • Teaching Resource: Feelings cards [one set per group]
  • Student Activity Sheet: Reading feelings in others [one per student]

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.

Relationships and sexuality

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

  • Teachers should know and understand the protective interrupting technique, and what, why, when and how it is needed and used, before facilitating this activity.

Learning activities

Whole Class

Students learn to identify the clues to recognising emotions in other people.

  1. Conduct a shared reading of a picture book that shows the characters expressing feelings, such as I Have Feelings! or Things That Make You Feel Good, Things That Make You Feel Bad. Ask the students:

    • What might (insert character name) be feeling here?

    • How can you tell?

    • What body signals do you feel inside when you feel this feeling?

    • What signals do we see in others to let us know they are feeling this feeling? (focus on tone of voice, words used, facial expressions, body language)  

  1. Explain that you can learn to understand other people’s feelings by looking at body clues: looking at their faces, looking at the way they stand (body posture) and listening to what other people say and the way their voice sounds (tone of voice). Whiteboard this information under the headings of 'looking' and 'listening'.

  2. Tell students that we can often guess how others feel but then we should always check by asking. Sometimes we misunderstand how people are feeling and then might respond in a way that is not helpful.

  3. Conduct a think-pair-share to discuss how they could recognise when:

    • A friend is sad

    • A friend is excited

    • A brother or sister is worried

    • A parent is disappointed

    • A classmate is shy

    • A parent is angry.

Independent or Small Group

Students have the opportunity to practise recognising emotions.

  1. Have students form small circle talk circles. Give each student standing in the inside circle, a feeling card from Teaching Resource: Feelings cards.

  2. Explain that these students must role-play a situation that might give them the feeling shown on the card. For example, if their feelings card is 'happy' then they might mime opening a present and looking happy about what is inside.

  3. The students standing in the outside circle must try to guess the feeling, explaining what body clues they saw and what word clues they heard that led them to guess this feeling.

  4. Students standing in the inside circle students pass their feelings card to their partner and the outside circle then moves on one person to the right.

  5. Repeat the process several times so students are exposed to a range of feelings and have several opportunities to both guess and perform a feeling.    


  1. Give each student a copy of the Student Activity Sheet: Reading feelings in others.

    • Explain each situation and discuss possible answers, focusing on looking for body clues and listening to words and tone of voice. Have parent helpers or student buddies read to poorer readers.

  1. Have students complete the activity sheet. Discuss the findings as a whole class.