Students use feeling faces to indicate how they are feeling.

The start of a new calendar year brings with it the opportunity to make some changes in your classroom.  You may have rearranged your students’ desks, created a new bulletin board, or developed a new interest center that supports a new unit of study.  Starting fresh in the new year always feels good and generates renewed interest in learning.  There’s another change I’d  like to suggest that will help to bring awareness to the state-of-being of your students.  What is it?  It’s a How do you feel? chart.

I used this chart in my classroom.  Here’s what I did.  I created a pocket chart with enough pockets for each child, myself, and a few extras in the event that I had new students arrive during the school year.  Each child was given two squares of construction paper and a circle template.  After tracing and cutting out the circles, they used crayons or markers to draw four feeling faces.  One circle showed happy on one side and sad on the other side.  The second circle showed mad/grumpy on one side and so so (not happy or sad, just in the middle.) on the other side.  Once completed, the students put their circles in their chart pockets which had their names on them.  When they came to school in the morning, they would put their belongings away, go to the chart, and put the face in front that expressed how they were feeling at that moment.  During the day, they could change the face if their emotional state had changed.  For example, if a child entered the classroom happy, he might later be sad, and then happy again by the end of the day.  The chart showed me what was going on for him and the others in the classroom.  [See Chapter 8 in my book Creating the Peaceable Classroom: A 21st-Century Wellness Guide for Teachers, Students and Parents for more detailed directions.]

I found  the How do you feel? chart helpful in getting an overall sense of where my students were emotionally when they came to school each day and throughout the day.  This was important because how they were feeling would impact their ability to focus and do their best work.   I was able to check in with students who might have been feeling sad or mad when they came to school and give them some support or arrange for a trip to the school counselor’s office if that was warranted.  I encouraged my students to use the chart to see how their classmates were feeling as well.  They could offer support to their friends who were not feeling great with a kind word, a smile, or perhaps a special note or card , created at an appropriate time, of course.  The chart was a great visual for all of us.  A quick glance at the start of the school day gave me a sense of the emotional temperature of my students, and was yet another way to help build a caring, classroom community

Over the years, I have offered this idea to parents to use at home as a way to tune into how each family member is feeling.  It provides them with a springboard for supporting all feelings,  honoring each person’s emotional state, and opening the door for conversation related to their states-of-being.  The How do you feel? chart might be a focus for dinner table conversation, discussing each family members’ state-of-being or saving the discussion for later if a private conversation is more appropriate.  [See Chapter 8, page 93 in my book Creating the Peaceable Classroom: A 21st-Century Wellness Guide for Teachers, Students and Parents for more information.]

Tune into the emotional temperature of your students/children, offer the appropriate supports, and see the positive effects it will have in your classroom or family.


P.S.  Another thought . . . .  If you really want to get fancy, take close-up photos of each of your students showing the four emotions on their faces.  Next,  have them cut their feeling face photos into a circle and adhere to the construction paper circles.  Each child will have a personalized set of feeling faces!  Using real faces, their faces, might relate better to any discussions of body language that might ensue.  That’s it for now. . . .

2 Responses to “Tune into the Emotional Temperature of Your Students”

  • marcela says:

    This tool has worked for my students so well, they ask for the “caritas” everytime i forget to tell them, but i did something more, when they have mentioned the face that describes their feelings i ask “do you want to be by yourself with this feeling?or do you want company and to be asked about your issue?, then i tell the students ,if the child wants company that it is their duty to do something about it, as they already kno
    That their presence is requested.

    • Sandy says:

      How nice that you have expanded upon this idea! I am pleased that it is working for you and your students! Where are you located?

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