SPARKLERS / Managing emotions

Tuning In

We all know books have super powers. Here’s an activity that will use them to help tamariki develop emotional literacy, tune in to how others are feeling and know how to react to different emotions.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand how picture books use imagery to convey emotions.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Books are so powerful in teaching tamariki and this is a really simple way to support wellbeing – both our own and others.

It’s a great chance to showcase books from our Aotearoa authors. We’d recommend:

  • Use Your Voice - by Harriet Bremner (especially if you’re a rural school)
  • Aroha’s Way or Let It Go - by Rebekah Lipp and Craig Phillips
  • The Chill Our Chair or The Goodbye Chair – by Carson Barr

Hei mahi - What to do

Using books for emotion coaching is easy. Simply pick up the book and forget all about the words on the page. Look to the pictures for clues of how each character is feeling and show this to the tamariki.

Forget the ‘story’ just focus on what’s happening in the pictures and name any emotions that might be visible – calm, frustrated, angry, worried, happy, peaceful, delighted, surprised…

This helps tamariki to extend their vocabulary of the emotions. It’s a great idea to ask tamariki to take turns in giving it a go.

Don’t be surprised if tamariki think a character is feeling an emotion that’s different to your interpretation. This is a great way to open a conversation about about how we ‘interpret’ what others are feeling.

The key questions you might ask along the way are:

  • What’s it like when we feel like that?
  • How might someone know we feel this way?
  • What do we like people to do when we feel like this?
  • What might it be like to approach a friend of classmate or me (the teacher) to check in like that?

Extra for experts

A fun way you could extend on this is with a rip-off drama-based activity called The Park Bench.

One person is on the park bench, acting out an emotion they’re feeling.

Another person approaches, they may choose to sit beside them, they may choose to kneel, but their job is to name the emotion they think the other person is feeling.

If they get it right, there’s a high five and they replace the person on the park bench and the next person enters.

If they don’t name the correct emotion, they join the rest of the students and have another opportunity to approach, after others do too.

What next?

For younger tamariki

Extend on learning all about emotions with Taihoa! or Frozen Emotions

For older tamariki

Try There For Me – to extend on how other people contribute positively to us

Or Compliment Posters – to make everyone feel valued and special

Looking after you

Foster the hauora of your kaiako and team

Learn more