How to Make a Feelings Tree with Preschoolers
A feelings tree is easy to make to support kids' understanding of emotions. Grownups can help kids verbalize their feelings by engaging them in activities - like this feelings tree - that identify and name emotions. Make this little tree together to encourage conversation and learning in hands-on play.
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Expressing feelings is not always easy, especially for young children. Often kids have not developed the language skills required to talk about how they feel.
Activities that are fun and engaging provide kids with opportunities to learn to recognize and respect emotions, in themselves and in others.
Feelings Tree Activity
A feelings tree is easy to set up and can help kids express feelings through games and conversation. The heart shaped cut-outs are perfect for a Valentine theme, but the activities can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Instructions for making a feeling tree
- Cut heart shapes from construction paper.
- Draw faces with different expressions on the hearts with black marker.
- Cover with clear contact paper for durability.
- Hole punch the top of each heart and add a yarn or ribbon loop for a hanger.
- Cover an empty coffee can with red construction paper or wallpaper.
- Fill the can with sand.
- Insert one large branch, or tie three small branches together with masking tape or elastics. Wrap washi tape around the masking tape as shown in the photo.
Kids can help decorate the can with heart cut-outs, stickers, recycled Valentine cards, or crayons and markers.
Activities using the feelings tree
- Put all the heart faces in a small box or bag.
- Invite kids to take turns reaching into the bag to remove a face, then describing the emotion.
- Help kids relate an incident when they may have felt this emotion.
- Hang each heart on the tree as kids talk about the different feelings.
- Turn heart shapes face down on the table.
- Invite kids to take turns turning over two hearts to see if the faces match.
- If they are a match, hang them on the tree.
- Name the emotions on the faces as the hearts are turned over.
When talking about emotions with kids you may have to lead the conversation by providing prompts.
Ask kids about recent events, such as holidays or family visits.
- Were you happy to see your cousin come for a visit?
- I bet you were upset when your favorite toy got broken.
Draw attention to specific happenings that they can identify with.
- How did you feel when your sister fell off the swing?
I felt sad when I saw my sister crying.
- How did you feel when we heard the fire truck siren when we were in the playground?
I was scared of the loud noise.
Helping kids understand and verbalize emotions prepares them for social interaction. If they can express what makes them feel afraid or sad or even confused, they are more able to engage in appropriate responses. Instead of feeling frustrated and acting out in less appropriate ways, they can verbalize what is going on inside.
Have fun with your feelings tree!
Learning About Emotions and Feelings / Mamas Happy Hive
Circle Time Lessons About Emotions / Not Time for Flash Cards
9 Ways to Teach Children About Feelings / Kiddie Matters