11 Fun Emotion Themed Activities For Toddlers
Last week this time was “back to school” time for Aryan and I just knew after spending 6 weeks with mommy 24/7 that this would be a BIG adjustment for the both of us. Back to school always means big emotions for little people, and 90% of the time these emotions can be a little overwhelming for them, especially when they cant quite understand or control their own emotions just yet. So, I decided to focus on emotions in order to help not only Aryan understand his emotions, but also to help him communicate his emotions over to me more effectively so that I can support him the right way.
Here are 7 fun ways to teach your 2-3 year olds about emotions, while focusing on crucial fine motor, gross motor, cognitive and sensory motor skills.
This activity is incredibly easy to set up and is super fun! All you need are some plastic egg toys (those that can open and close), a permanent or whiteboard marker, and a big, empty bowl.
Start off by drawing different emotions on your eggs using your permanent marker (or whiteboard marker if you would like to re-use the eggs later on). Make sure that you draw your eyes on the top part and your mouth on the bottom part so that you can take the mouth and they eyes apart. Then throw your eggs into your bowl.
1. Emotion Charades
Let your toddler take an egg from the bowl and mimic the emotion on the egg. Let your toddler guess the emotion and act it out – making it a game of emoji charades. You can also let your toddler act out the emotion and then you guess what the emotion is, then move on to another egg. Continue to speak about each of the emotions and when you could expect to feel that emotion as your toddler plays.
2. Silly Faces
Once your toddler has finished acting out all of the emotions, open all of the eggs and let your toddler group all of the mouths together and all of the eyes together. Then show your toddler how to create new, silly faces by matching up the eyes and mouths as he/she pleases. Some of the faces look incredibly silly and will guarantee a good giggle. You can also play a game of who can build the silliest face.
3. Get the egg in the bowl
Once you have built all the eggs again, place your bowl a few feet away and then show your toddler how to throw the eggs into the bowl from a distance. Let your toddler try to throw as many eggs into the bowl as he/she can. You can also compete against each other to try and see who can get the most eggs into his/her bowl. And a third way of playing is by moving the bowl a little further away after each successful throw. This is an excellent gross motor activity and also a fun way to bond with your toddler.
4. Emotions Color Match
If you have a bunch of different colored eggs you can use a certain color for each of the emotions and then take the eggs apart by grouping the mouths and the eyes separately. Then ask your toddler to match the color pairs and build the egg and shout out the color as well as the emotion once the emoji egg is complete.
5. Match the emotions game
In this activity we focused on our fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are those that involve a refined use of the small muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb. The development of these skills are important in order to help your child complete tasks such as writing, feeding him/herself, buttoning and zippering.
For this activity you will need an old box, cardboard paper, koki’s, craft glue and popsicle sticks.
Start of by deciding how many emotions you would like to start with (we started with your basic 6 – happy, sad, angry, surprised, silly and scared). Now draw 2 faces of each emotion on your cardboard paper. Cut your faces out and stick one on your box and the other to your popsicle stick. Make a small incision (big enough for your popsicle stick to fit, but it still having to be pushed through. It should not be able to fall through the incision) next to each of the emotions on your box. Show your toddler how to match the popsicle stick emotion to its “friend” on the box. Let your toddler name each emotion as he matches it or name it for your toddler and ask him/her to show it to you. It is important to continue to speak about each of the emotions while your toddler is busy doing the activity.
6. Emoji Shape Game
We always try to incorporate a few things into our themes like colors, shapes, numbers and letters. In this game we not only focused on our emotions, but also some basic shapes and colors.
You will need colored cardboard paper, koki’s, different objects in different shapes and a blank piece of paper.
You can draw different shapes on each of your colored cardboard (try to use a different color for each of your shapes). Now draw different emotions onto each of your shapes. You can then cut out your different shapes and throw them all into a brown paperbag or big bowl. Let you your toddler draw a shape from the bag and then let him/her tell you which shape, color and emotion it is, eg.sad orange rectangle, or happy yellow circle (younger toddlers can start of with only the emotion, then shape and emotion, and then color, shape and emotion). Once your toddler has drawn all the shapes you can pack them out on a flat surface and go over them again.
7. Match the Shapes
Now throw all of the objects you found into the bowl/paperbag and then let your toddler draw an object and match it to the correct emoji shape. Once again say out loud what the shape, color and emotion is. You can also ask your toddler to group all of the rectangles together, and all of the circles together and then ask him/her to group all of the colors together.
8. Trace the Shape and draw the emotion
Once you see that your toddler is starting to lose interest, bring out the blank page and show your toddler how to trace each of the shapes onto the paper by doing it first. Your toddler will probably still need a lot of assistance during the tracing activity and that is completely normal and okay. Help your toddler and encourage him/her to try. Once your toddler has traced for example the circle, ask him/her which emotion is on the circle and then draw the emotion into the shape that YOU traced. Now give your toddler the opportunity to copy your face into their own traced shape. Once again it is okay if it looks nothing like a face, but try to encourage your toddler to atleast draw two eyes and one mouth. Then continue to draw the next shape from the bag and repeat the process.
9. Emoji Clay Monsters
This is a fun sensory and fine motor activity that can entertain toddlers 2-8 years old for at least an hour! Sensory play builds nerve connections in your child’s brain’s pathways which eventually leads to your child’s ability to complete more complex tasks. It also supports language development, cognitive growth, fine and gross motor skills, problem solving skills and social interaction.
All you will need for this activity are clay, googley eyes, and some sequins, beads, pipecleaners and any other crafts materials that could be used for decorating your toddler’s monster. You can also re-use the shapes from the previous activities.
Firstly pack out everything on a large, open, flat surface. Now show your toddler how to build a little emoji monster using the materials and clay. Encourage your toddler to make different faces with different emotions using the shape cards as reference. Leave your toddler to play freely.
10. Emoji Cookies
Aryan loves cooking and baking and we try to incorporate a fun baking/cooking activity into our themes at least once a week. For our emotions theme we made some emoji cookies and it was great fun!
You will need some marie biscuits (or any other large, round cookie), some icing sugar, sweeties for the face (we used smarties, raisins and marshmallows cut into little mouths), and last but not least a popsicle stick/butter knife.
Mix your icing sugar with a few drops of water until you get the perfect texture. Show your toddler how to make his/her own emoji cookie using the icing sugar and other decoration sweeties.l Let your toddler play freely and join in on the fun.
11. Sticky Emotions
Aryan also loved this activity and I loved that it was one of those activities that he could go back to over and over again throughout the day.
You will need some easyfix, old magazines, and scizzors.
Ask your toddler to help you find faces with different emotions in an old magazine and cut it out. Mix all of the different emotions up in a big bowl/ brown paperbag. Stick your easyfix to a wall/door with the sticky side facing you (use prestic to stick it to the wall or door). You can divide your easyfix page into different divisions depending on how many emotions you decide to bring to the activity. Now stick your emoji popsicle sticks from activity 5 to each of your divisions. Ask your toddler to take a photo out of the paperbag and then stick it in the correct emoji block. Assist your toddler when and as necessary, bringing his/her attention to the different details that show which emotion it is (eg. Tears or upside down smile = sad).
Bonus: Use the piece of paper that you pulled of the sticky side as a “whiteboard”. Give your toddler a whiteboard marker and stick that piece to a flat, smooth surface. Ask your toddler to draw you an emotion and give him/her a tissue to wipe of his drawing when he/she is done. Let your toddler draw freely.
We had so much fun with this theme and Aryan really surprised me with his knowledge and understanding of emotions. He is also so much more aware of emotions now and confidently points out different emotions whenever we read a story, are coloring or watch a movie.
Your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life.