Last weekend (it already seems so long ago), I was lucky enough to be invited to the Jigsaw Early Years Consultancy annual EPOP festival/conference in Hampshire. It’s a very sparkly, high-energy event, chokka-block with treats, enthusiasm and inspiration. As the festival was about learning through play and the topic I was asked to cover was emotional intelligence, I decided to pool many of the games and drama activities that I have used over the years to increase children’s emotional intelligence that could be adapted for Early Years children. (Even though my background is in primary education, many of my books are aimed at very young children like: How are you feeling today?)
Of course, the emotional intelligence curriculum that I have moulded over the years that is explained in more detail in my recent post How to Become Emotionally Intelligent, includes being able to:
- Identify and name what you are feeling
- Use a large vocabulary to explain how you are feeling
- Know the physical symptoms of different emotions
- Notice emotions as they arise
- Recognise what triggered your different emotions
- Understand you will feel both enjoyable and unenjoyable emotions and this is a normal part of being human
- Understand that emotions give us messages that are sometimes helpful and sometimes unhelpful.
- Express what you are feeling in a resourceful way
- to empathise with others
So roughly speaking, the activities we did were aiming to meet at least one of these learning objectives.
I didn’t take many photos but I thought I would share a few to illustrate the kind of things we got up to.
I am a potato – conveying emotions through facial expression, tone of voice and body language!
Emotion whispers – pass the emotion down the line to encourage children to read emotions on other people’s faces to improve empathy and the link between physical features of different emotions. People tended to think it wouldn’t work but it was 100% successful.
Emotions on the playground to explore how taking our emotions out on others has an effect on them. Just look at those expressions!
Emotions statues – with sound affects and colours. A full circle of statues of different emotions making a noises was heading towards the surreal! (It’s not how I would do the activity with children – I was just pushing a whistle-stop tour of the activities.)
Emotion freezeframes to explore triggers, how you might impulsively want to respond and how you do actually have a choice in how you behave – whatever you are feeling. Nobody was actually hurt in the making of these photos!
Using the outline of a body shape to explore many aspects of an emotion visiting e.g. facial expression, tone of voice, whether it was enjoyable or not, what might have triggered it etc, as outlined in my post: Emotions as Visitors.
An Emotion Spectrum. They were told to pretend what had just happened to them and might have learnt a new emotion word had they been four years old! The spectrum goes from really happy to really unhappy. I think which end is which is quite obvious! It’s a shame only the audience could see it in its full glory – until now.
If I wasn’t limited to activities that didn’t need much resourcing, I think I could easily have filled the day and that’s without going anywhere near any theory. For starters, the activities included in my post ‘Activities for Exploring Emotions’.
I made a resource pack of the activities for participants that I would be happy to email to anyone subscribing to my blog – if you message me and let me know!