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Helping Children Explore Emotions


Just like adults, children experience a wide array of emotions — the difference is that children don’t always understand the emotion, what to call it, or how to properly describe what exactly they’re feeling. Books can help children grasp basics on mood by providing vivid language and illustrations that demonstrate what kids may be feeling.

Read! Move! Learn! by Carol Totsky Hammett and Nicki Collins Geigert provides great lesson plan ideas that explore emotions, allowing educators to help enrich the social-emotional competencies of children.

The following lesson idea connects emotions, literacy, and movement with the help of a beloved author of children’s literature — Dr. Seuss!

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

  • What's the Book About?
    ​Dr. Seuss and illustrators Johnson and Fancher created a audibly and visually stunning book that depicts feelings and moods. The text and colors bring the emotions to life with truth and clarity that children can understand. Due to the simplistic drawings of the children in the story, any child can identify with them.
  • Theme Connections
    • ​Colors
    • Feelings
    • Imagination
  • Lesson Objectives
    ​Children will:
    • Experience rhyming text.
    • Explore feelings and emotions.
    • Explore how colors depict moods.
    • Explore interpretive movement.
  • Action Vocabulary
    • Buzzy
    • Change
    • Flap
    • Kick
    • Watch
  • Emotional Expression and Concepts Explored
    • Alone
    • Angry
    • Busy
    • Confused
    • Cool
    • Down
    • Good
    • Low
    • Quiet
    • Sudden
    • Surprise

  • Developing Literacy Skills
    • Introduce the book's author, Dr. Seuss, and the illustrators, Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Read the title and ask the children to predict the story. Spend some time exploring the artwork on the cover since the artwork is essential to the story.
    • Explain to the children that people often use colors to describe their moods.
    • Dr. Seuss uses a variety of color words to convey moods and feelings. Ask the children to share how different colors make them feel.
    • After some discussion, begin reading the story. Use your voice to emphasize the feelings and emotions in the text.
    • When you read about a Mixed-Up Day, ask the children how they might feel if they experienced all of the colors in one day. The last page will provide a reassuring message.
  • Moving to the Story
    • Now that the children have had some exposure to color and mood, reread the story and ask the children to stand and move to the colors and moods in the book.
  • Developing Motor Skills
    Color the Mood
    • ​Materials:
      • Index cards colored or painted in each of the 10 colors in the book
    • Hold up a colored card.
    • When the children see the color, they move the way the color makes them feel, and show a facial expression that expresses the same feeling. For example, if the color red makes a child feel happy, then she might run, jump, and laugh.
    • Although the book shows specific ​moods related to specific colors, many children in your class may not identify with the colors in the same way. Make sure to encourage the children to act in the way the color makes them feel.
    • Quickly alternate the cards among each different color, based on the interest level of the children.

For more great activities that connect literacy and movement, check out Read! Move! Learn!

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