Toddler Unit: Part 2–Emotions

Emotions!  We all have them, we all experience them, especially toddlers!  So how can we teach our toddler.emotionsstudents about toddler emotions in a fun, creative way?  Look below to see my attempt at a fun, interactive lesson plan and activities, including a clip from the hit movie “Inside Out”.


  • Students will brainstorm a list of emotions we all experience.  Write them on the board as they are shared and then circle the positive ones and underline the negative ones.
  • Ask students when emotions begin to develop.  Discuss that emotions begin at birth as seen in this “Inside Out” clip of Riley at birth followed by other emotions of a toddler in this one.


  • Projector & Screen
  • Laptops or iPads
  • Art Supplies
  • Paper Plates & Tongue Depressors


  • Inform students that there are 5 specific emotions we will be exploring as we study toddlers.
  • Using the text: Developing Child, complete the chart with the emotion, the characteristics, the trigger(s) and how caregivers are to cope.
  •  Students are then to write a detailed scenario for each emotion, about a toddler using the information from the chart.  Do not reveal the emotion in the scenario, but provide enough details, behaviors, words and characteristics as clues that would help us to figure it out, even if we had to refer to the chart.  These will be used in a follow up activity and for review and/or quiz.
  • Count students off by 5’s and assign each number an emotion. Students are to use the emotion to create a visual of a toddler expressing it along with descriptions around it and the scenario attached depicting it. See lesson plan below. These will be presented to the class and then hung in the classroom.
  • Next, ask student how we can help young children understand how they are to deal with these emotions.  Have students use their laptops or iPads to explore internet resources to find the answers. A suggested link includes this website.
  • Many of the resources suggest that we talk to children, read stories, play games, and even put on puppet shows that deal with emotions.  These activities not only help children learn about emotions, but may distract them from negative behaviors associated with them.
  • To illustrate using books/stories, I like to read the book “The Way I Feel” and have students brainstorm things to do with children to highlight the different emotions.  Some ideas include making silly faces with their own faces, another is to make play-doh faces, or even play an emotions version of Simon Says with facial expressions.
  • Another project my students really enjoy is to create puppet shows with animal masks that they make out of paper plates and art supplies.  In small groups, students decide on a topic for a story line depicting the 5 basic emotions. Story line topics include, but are not limited to: toys, playing games, ice cream, new sibling, and play groups. Not only do they write the script, but they create animal masks that would represent the family of characters.  Once scripts and animal masks are done, students put on their puppet show for the rest of the class.  I have an actual wooden puppet show frame that students perform in that our Building Trades students built for us, which is optional but certainly gives it a real puppet show feel.  Audience keeps a tally during each performance to see if each emotion was depicted and to see if the emotions were dealt with in an appropriate manner based on their notes/chart. See lesson plan below.
  • The remaining scenarios that were written, but not used in the above assignment, are used  as review and quiz problems.  These can be typed up in written format or they can be read aloud in an oral format.



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