SPARKLERS / Managing emotions

Frozen Emotions

A group exercise for showing and guessing different emotions.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki can name and recognise a range of emotions conveyed through facial expression and/or body language.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Emotional literacy (the ability to name and recognise different emotions) is critical to thinking about our feelings and managing our reactions. It can also help us to better understand and be there for others.

This game builds cooperation and emotional literacy by encouraging tamariki to work together to represent, share and guess different emotions.

Tikanga tips

The head is tapu, so just in case it might be wise just to let your tamariki know to avoid touching other people's faces when acting out the emotions in groups. Or you can ask tamariki to give their permission for their head to be touched as a part of their scenes.

Hei mahi - What to do

This exercise is an extension of The Faces Game, and our emotions kōrero.

Brainstorm different emotions on the board, then divide your class into groups of 3-5 students. Write a range of emotions onto small pieces of paper (you may like to do this ahead of time) then let each group choose a piece of paper.

Their job will be to try to get the class to guess this emotion by creating a frozen scene… like a photo (i.e. props are okay, but no moving, talking or writing their emotion down). They’ll have to hold the scene for 30 seconds to a minute.

Before working as a group to come up with their frozen scene, they may need to do a little research to ensure they understand their emotion – and that’s okay.

Important things they should think about when creating their frozen photo:

  • What is the emotion they’re trying to convey?
  • How will they show this in the scene?
  • What facial expressions will each person use?
  • What about their body language?

Will their audience need any other clues?
Once the students are ready to perform their frozen emotion, ask them to walk onto the ‘stage’ as you count down from 10. By then, they need to be in their frozen ‘scene’. Encourage them to stay frozen, even if the audience guesses correctly.

Ask the audience what they think is happening? What emotion is being conveyed? If they get it right, ask them what the clues were. How could they tell? If they can’t guess, ask the actors to explain their scene and reveal their emotion.

Invite the actors to relax, then kōrero about how others might react in the same situation, from different ‘characters’ perspectives.

There are no right or wrong answers. Let the Kōrero be guided by – isn’t it interesting that we can react differently to the same situation? And that different people might show the same emotion differently.

Ask what good solutions to this situation might be. What would happen next? Ask the group to create an improvised freeze-frame around 1-2 possible ‘solutions’.

Move onto the next group and follow the same process.

What next?

Try playing Taihoa game, to help with emotional regulation.

Check out the Sliding Emotions Sparklers at home activity for tamariki complete with their whānau.

Many thanks!

We’ve loosely based this activity on some of the wonderful improvisation games available. Improvisation games make terrific warm ups and we love all the great things that come with them - quick thinking, performance skill, rule following, energy focussing and a whole lot more! And you don’t have to be great at ‘acting’. We love Improv Encyclopaedia where there are oodles of ‘games’ to choose from.

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