Fun Activity to Explore Emotions With Your Children

Look around our world today and you will see many adults who have not learned how to express their emotions in godly and healthy ways. Some repress their emotions and hurt themselves and others by not allowing others to understand how they are feeling. Others lash out in their emotions – at times causing emotional pain to anyone nearby and physical damage to people or property. To be emotionally and spiritually healthy, your children need to learn that it is okay to express their emotions – even negative ones – as long as they are respectful and godly in the process.

Understanding emotions has another purpose for Christians. Many times, in order to serve others and share their faith – they will need to pick up on subtle emotional cues from others. Sensing when someone is upset and could use emotional, spiritual and even physical support is crucial if your children really want to grow up to be like the Good Samaritan. (Although, let’s be honest. The beaten and bloodied man was giving off major clues he needed help from someone, and even then several passed by without helping – but that’s another issue for another day!)

Young children, children with certain special needs and children who have had too much screen time and not enough ”people” time will often struggle recognizing and naming emotions in themselves and others. They need intentional instruction on how to identify and name emotions. Thankfully there is a fun activity you can do to start the process.

Gather up some art supplies before you start. You can use paper bags, old socks or clothespins to create a body for a puppet. Depending on the body chosen, you may need markers, yarn, googly eyes, buttons, chenilles, pom pons and either glue or a cold glue gun. (You can also purchase puppet making kits online. Most have enough supplies to make several felt hand puppets.)

Call your children together and ask them about the emotions various people in the Bible experienced during familiar episodes in their lives. Or choose one person, like the Apostle Peter, and talk about the wide variety of emotions Peter experienced in his lifetime. For every emotion your children identify, have them give other words for the same emotion. It can be particularly helpful to ask them to give words describing varying intensities of the emotion. For example, if they said Peter was scared in a particular incident, ask them how they would describe it if
Peter were only a little bit scared (nervous, edgy) or really, really scared (terrified, petrified). The more emotion words they can generate, the better.

Now show them the puppet making supplies. Explain that God does not want us to hurt ourselves, others or even property when we feel very strong emotions. He wants us to use our words. Show them the puppet making supplies and have them make any type of puppet they would like. The only rule is that the puppet must represent an emotion.

Let them take as much time as they would like with their creations. When they are finished, ask them to name the emotion each puppet represents. If you have the time, encourage them to create a skit using their emotion puppets. The story can be any one they choose, but the puppets must clearly represent the emotion they are in their dialogue and action in the skit.

Have fun with it. Make a list of all of the emotion words you discussed. Bring out the chart every night at bedtime and ask your children which are the top two or three emotions they experienced that day. Share your own emotions to make it more comfortable for them to share theirs. You can extend the activity by showing your children various photos of people and asking them to name the emotions the person is feeling. Discuss some of the things they can do to help those experiencing negative emotions. With regular practice and discussions, your children can become emotionally savvy – which can help them and the others they encounter.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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