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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaching Emotional Intelligence during play

Do you want your children to have an advantage in every aspect of their life?  Forget about academics, teach them emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is probably the most important thing you can model and teach your children.  It gives them tools they will need to regulate their emotions, empathize with others, think, reason, create, overcome obstacles in life, and rise above in the face of difficulties.  Emotional intelligence is probably best taught through modeling and empathy – but let’s not forget about teaching it during the realm of PLAY!

Here is a great article about Emotional Intelligence…

I have been working on emotions with my son from a very early age.  I had these emotion cards that I used with my students before I became a PAHM.  Initially we would just look at the pictures and I would state the emotions.  They were already laminated (from my classroom).  I added Velcro to the back so my son could put them on his felt board.  Watching the progression and his emotional intelligence blossom has been quite amazing.  Many people say that toddlers do not understand emotional intelligence.  In my son’s case, I tend to disagree.  If we are out, he identifies the feelings of those around us and shows empathy for them – “Mommy, she’s sad?  We need to give her a hug.  Im so sorry she is feeling that way.  Maybe a hug would make her feel better.”  These picture cards are a great way to reinforce and talk about emotions.  They inspire critical thinking and open ended questions as well.  :)

(These are stored just under his felt board - the large set is in the basket and I have a smaller set in on of the pockets of the organizer.  HE initiates this play.)


He is telling me how all of the children are feeling.

Showing me what "thinking" looks like.  LOL

Showing me "surprised".


  1. love it! Too many kids don't know how to express their own emotions in a productive manner, or how to deal with the emotions of others. I love your site, your blog, and your ideas! I can't wait to have the space to incorporate more of your ideas!!

  2. where did you get the cards? I'd like to start with my son!

  3. http://www.amazon.com/Facial-Expressions-Learning-Education-Publishing/dp/1933052538/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310513511&sr=8-1

  4. Thanks, Kristal - I have to say, my son is VERY in tune with his emotions and very good at verbalizing them in lieu of having a meltdown. I dont expect him to express them like I would, but he does a darn good job of trying. :)

  5. THANK YOU for this wonderful post!! I was just putting together some cards for this sort of activity. I am putting a "mini unit together for my preschooler" on Emotions (to come after Butterflies and Dinosaurs, or course). Emotional intelligence is SO important to succeed and to be happy in the world. I highly recommend a book called "Raising an emotionally intelligent child" by John Gottman (you probably already know this book.) Also I found these great felt board emoticons on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/61670507/on-monday-when-it-rained-felt-board?ref=sc_1 I have a blog at carrotsareorange.com - I'll be sure to blog about the lesson! :-)

  6. I love your use of these cards! I'm Mama to a son from Russia whom we still have to work some with E.Q. on (he's been home since 20 months & is now 4). I have seen some teaching resources online which use cartoons (smiley faces) & I just don't think that using smiley face style pictures is as effective as using photos of real kids with real emotions. Thanks for sharing!

  7. We've been working on this with pictures in books, but planning to get these cards too. My son is 20 months and is starting to identify emotions. Last night he told my father, "you're happy!" He is starting to have some meltdowns when he's frustrated or sad, so hoping continued identification of emotions will help.


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