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Activity Plan- Emotion Spoons

This activity is created with emotional development in mind and is suitable for children over 12 months. It has the multiple benefits of being easy to create and linking to many areas of the EYFS framework and Development Matters. Just a few items are needed to make this activity which can also be altered depending on what resources might be available.

Follow our simple step-by-step guide to have a go at this activity today:

What you will need:

  • 8 Wooden spoons
  • Permanent marker (sharpie)
  • Paint (acrylic)

Preparing the activity:

  1. Establish 8 emotions for children to explore, for example: happy, sad, angry, tired, shy, excited, surprised, worried. Fewer can be used if insufficient spoons are available.
  2. Write one emotion on the back of each spoon.
  3. On the other side paint in a preferred colour, lighter colours such as yellow make for images that are easier to see. Acrylic paint is best to use.
  4. Once the paint is dry, draw a simple face on the spoon to represent the emotion written on the back. Eyes, mouths and eyebrows make for the most expressive portrayals, keep it as basic as possible.

Doing the activity:

Ask the children to sit in a circle and place the spoons on the floor, face-down in front of you. One at a time pick up a spoon and show it to the children so they can see the expression. Ask them what emotion/feeling they think it is. Pass the spoon around so all the children can have a proper look at it, making it more interactive.

Once they have guessed the correct emotion, show the word on the back, sounding it out together. Then ask if they can make the same face, for example “can you all show me your happy faces?”. This is a great opportunity for taking photos!

Ask the children what makes them feel this way. They might say they feel happy when they go to the park, or they feel angry if someone snatches a toy. Support the children to give honest answers, there is no right or wrong here.

Continue by talking about coping strategies, for example “what can we do when we feel worried?”. Give time for the children to think about their answers and support them by explaining appropriate solutions, such as “talking to someone about our worries can help us to feel better”.

For younger children with little or no speech, focus on inviting them to interact with the spoons and seeing if they can replicate the expressions. Practitioners can also get involved in making funny faces to help engage the children.

Allow each child to have their turn, and if an extended activity is needed, child-friendly mirrors can be brought in, developing self-awareness.

Photographer: Andrew Coop | Source: Unsplash

Tracking the activity:

8-20 months

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- Pays attention to dominant stimulus – easily distracted by noises or other people talking

Communication and Language: Understanding- Developing the ability to follow others’ body language, including pointing and gesture

Communication and Language: Speaking- Uses single words (happy, sad, yes, no)

16-26 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Is aware of others’ feelings, for example, looks concerned if hears crying or looks excited if hears a familiar happy voice

Communication and Language: Understanding- Understands simple sentences (e.g. ‘Throw the ball.’)

22-36 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-confidence and self-awareness- expresses own preferences and interests

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Can express their own feelings such as sad, happy, cross, scared, worried

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- Single channelled attention. Can shift to a different task if attention fully obtained – using child’s name helps focus

Photographer: Austin Pacheco | Source: Unsplash

30-50 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Aware of own feelings, and knows that some actions and words can hurt others’ feelings

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Begins to accept the needs of others and can take turns and share resources, sometimes with support from others

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- Listens to others one to one or in small groups, when conversation interests them

Communication and Language: Understanding- Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions

Communication and Language: Speaking- Uses language as a powerful means of widening contacts, sharing feelings, experiences and thoughts.

40-60 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Managing feelings and behaviour- Aware of the boundaries set, and of behavioural expectations in the setting

Communication and Language: Listening and attention- Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity

Communication and Language: Understanding- Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion.