Latest
Inspiration
EY Info
Tools
Premium Resources
TNL Jobs
About US
My TNL
Content Filters
Reset Filters
Inspiration
Inspiration
The latest and best ideas in early years
Early Years Info
Early Years Info
All about the sector, from A - Z
Tools
Tools
Tools, plans and resources to use everyday
Activity Plans
Activity Plans
Filter by EYFS area & children's ages
Interviews
Interviews
Hear from interesting sector colleagues
CPD
CPD
Up-skill, gain knowledge and develop
Health Matters
Health Matters
Looking after the physical and mental health of practitioners and children
Policy Packs
Policy Packs
Section for downloadable and updating TNL policies
Content Filters
Reset Filters
Inspiration
Inspiration
The latest and best ideas in early years
Early Years Info
Early Years Info
All about the sector, from A - Z
Tools
Tools
Tools, plans and resources to use everyday
Activity Plans
Activity Plans
Filter by EYFS area & children's ages
Interviews
Interviews
Hear from interesting sector colleagues
CPD
CPD
Up-skill, gain knowledge and develop
Health Matters
Health Matters
Looking after the physical and mental health of practitioners and children
Policy Packs
Policy Packs
Section for downloadable and updating TNL policies
Open Filters

Happy Box, Sad Box

This activity helps children explore their emotions, as well as incorporating some maths skills! It is best suited for older children in smaller groups.

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

What you will need:

  • 4, or more, boxes
  • A lot of milk carton tops (it may help to ask children’s families to bring them in)
  • Marker pen
  • Scissors or craft knife

Preparing the activity:

  1. Wash and dry the milk carton lids thoroughly.
  2. Using the scissors/craft knife, cut slots in the front of the boxes, about halfway up. The slots should be about an inch tall and about 3 inches wide.
  3. Using the marker, draw faces with different expressions on the boxes, e.g. happy, sad, shocked or angry. If you have more boxes, you can add different expressions such as crying, confused or whatever else you can think of.
  4. Draw faces matching the boxes on the milk carton tops. Make sure you have an even number of each expression.
Images by Liza Summer from Pexels and tartila from Freepik, edited by TNL

Doing the activity:

You can either give each child a pile of carton tops or place them all in a bowl in front of the children.

Talk to the children about the different faces and what they might think the person is feeling. Once you’ve established the names for each expression, encourage the children to find faces you name, such as “Can you find a happy face?”.

Enable children to use their sorting skills by posting the correct faces through the slots on the boxes, or to use their maths skills by counting how many of each face they have or finding “4 more sad faces”.

During the activity, encourage the children to discuss why the faces may have those emotions – “why do you think they’re sad today?” or relate it to themselves by talking about what makes them happy or sad.

Tracking the activity:

30-50 months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships: “Keeps play going by responding to what others are saying or doing.”

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-confidence and self-awareness: “Confident to talk to other children when playing, and will communicate freely about own home and community.”

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

Communication and Language: Understanding: “Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.”

Mathematics: Numbers: “Uses some number names accurately in play.; Recites numbers in order to 10.; Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set.”

40-60+ months

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Making relationships: “Initiates conversations, attends to and takes account of what others say.; Explains own knowledge and understanding, and asks appropriate questions of others.”

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: Self-confidence and self-awareness: “Confident to speak to others about own needs, wants, interests and opinions.”

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

Physical Development: Moving and Handling: “Shows increasing control over an object in pushing, patting, throwing, catching or kicking it.”

Mathematics: Numbers: “Recognises numerals 1 to 5.; Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item.”