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Expressing Thoughts & Feelings

Main Core Tie

English Language Arts Kindergarten
Speaking and Listening Standard 6

Additional Core Ties

English Language Arts Kindergarten
Reading: Literature Standard 2

English Language Arts Kindergarten
Speaking and Listening Standard 1 a.


Utah LessonPlans
Grace Wayman


Students will explore five different "Discovery Buckets". These buckets will give them opportunities to practice expressing both their thoughts and feelings.


Bad Day Discovery Bucket

  • Bucket
  • A Bad, Bad, Day
  • Character puppets (pdf)
  • Pre-made puppet with facial expressions

Flannel Board Discovery Bucket

Dramatic Discovery Bucket

Name Discovery Bucket

  • Name puzzles of students
  • Photos of students
  • Name cards
  • Memory game
  • 5" tall poster board
  • Fruit Loops
  • Glue bottles
  • Pencils
  • Student list

Feelings Discovery Bucket

Additional Resources


  • The Way I Feel--Sometimes, by Beatrice Schenk DeRegniers (Clarion)
  • You Don't Need Words, by Ruth Belov Gross (Scholastic)
  • C is for Curious: An ABC of Feelings, by Woodleigh Hubbard (Chronicle Books)
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Mouse, by Jeanne Modesitt (Scholastic)
  • My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss (Knopf)
  • Let's Be Enemies, by Janice Undry
  • What Makes Me Feel This Way? By Eda LeShan
  • How are you Peeling? Foods with Moods, by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers
  • Proud of Our Feelings, by Lindsay Leghorn
  • Giggle Time: Establishing the Social Connection, by Susan Aud Sonders
  • Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad, by Constance Allen
  • Swimmy, by Leo Lionni
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  • A Bad, Bad Day, by Kiersten Hall
  • Strategies for Reading Assessment and Instruction Helping Every Child to Succeed, by D. Ray Reutzel and Robert B. Cooter, Jr. Merrill Prentice Hall


  • From Pictures to Words (Sarah Lawrence College Child Development Institute)
  • The Sneezing Song and Other Contagious Tunes by Jim Gill
  • Greg & Steve Playing Favorites by Greg & Steve (1-800-444-4287)
  • Greg & Steve Kids in Motion by Greg & Steve (1-800-444-4287)

Background for Teachers

As educators, we recognize that an increased ability to communicate thoughts and feelings gives children the skills they need in their interactions with others. Acceptance by peers is not only correlated with positive attitudes toward school; it is a powerful predictor of social adjustment throughout life. For these reasons, it is vital to teach children about their emotions and how to appropriately express thoughts and feelings with others.

Because children learn through play, providing a variety of materials for children's independent learning activities (alone or with peers) is one dimension of effectively responding to individual differences in the classroom. Teachers can accommodate for the many different learning styles within their classrooms by providing a variety of activities for children to explore and discover.

Student with low language skills tend to cluster in the following areas:

  1. ESL: These students may appear to be competent, yet lack the kind of language knowledge needed for academic success.
  2. Poverty: Because parents often work several jobs, parents frequently have little or no time to verbally interact with their children. The children have capable minds but poorly developed language.
  3. Learning Problems: (could be in special education programs, but not always): Some children have specific learning problems that require accommodations or adaptations in the classroom.
  4. Highly Mobile: these drop in/drop out children, even with good teaching, miss consistent planned instruction and their oral language development can suffer.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude.
2. Demonstrate responsible emotional and cognitive behaviors.
3. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.

Instructional Procedures

All of the stories and literature should to be presented to the students prior to these activities.

Use Three Billy Goats Gruff, the Three Little Pigs, A Bad, Bad, Day, and a variety of books about feelings with this activity. The unit teaches about expressing thoughts and feelings. Use Discovery Buckets to allow exploration and communication to occur. Explain that you will introduce five different Discovery Buckets.

Invitation to Learn

Sit your class down in a circle and then show them an ordinary apple. Without explaining why, show the kids that the apple is ordinary and then ask each student to take the apple and give it a good whack on the floor (not too hard). After they look at you like you have gone crazy, they whack it on the floor. After it has passed around the circle and has returned to you, show them the apple again. Show them that the apple still looks normal on the outside. Next cut it open and show the kids all the bruising and brown spots the whacking did to the apple. This is a great way to illustrate how even though we can't see how we hurt people, on the inside we all have feelings that can be hurt by bad words, etc.

Explain that we will explore five different Discovery Buckets. These buckets will give the students opportunities to practice expressing both their thoughts and feelings.

Instructional Procedures

Bad Day Discovery Bucket

  1. Prior knowledge: read A Bad, Bad, Day by Kiersten Hall to class.
  2. Students will retell the story using puppets.
  3. Students will interchange pre-made facial expressions for the main character throughout the retelling of the story.

Flannel Board Discovery Bucket

  1. Prior knowledge: Three Billy Goats Gruff story.
  2. Students will re-enact the Three Billy Goats Gruff story using felt or stick characters.
  3. Encourage students to use different voices for each character.

Dramatic Discovery Bucket

  1. Prior knowledge: The Three Little Pigs story.
  2. A variety of different versions of The Three Little Pigs story.
  3. Students will use the visors of the different characters to re- enact the story.
  4. Encourage students to try at least two versions of the story.

Name Discovery Bucket

  1. Students will explore Name Puzzles.
  2. Students will practice recognizing classmate names/pictures with a Memory game.
  3. Students will create an enlarged Fruit Loop name of their own.
  4. A variety of related books.
  • My Mommy Doesn't Know My Name, by Suzanne Williams
  • Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
  • A Porcupine Named Fluffy, by Helen Lester
  • Andy (That's My Name) by Tomie De Paola

Feelings Discovery Bucket

  • Feelings Cube--students take turns role-playing the feeling rolled on the cube.
  • Feelings Memory game--students play Memory with photo cards and name cards (backing should be the same color).
  • Feelings Bingo--children can play bingo using the feeling pictures in place of the traditional numbers. When you pull a card with a feeling picture out of a bag, ask the children to identify the feeling, make the expression on their faces and then place a marker on the appropriate face on their bingo card.


  • Feelings, by Aliki
  • Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day, by Jamie Lee Curtis
  • When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Angry, by Molly Bang
  • Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings, by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda


Word Wall

Create a class word wall with the list of feeling words. If you took photos of students making faces that captured the emotion, you could display them next to the word.

Class Book

With an empty picture frame take photos of students making the emotions discussed in class.

Combine them to create a class emotions book.

Check-in Board

Create a check-in board where children place their name clips or photo next to a feeling picture. Follow up with children, talking with them about the emotion they chose and the circumstances related to their feelings. As the day progresses and feelings change, you can facilitate children's changing the placement of their name clips to match their new feelings.

Family Connections

  • Encourage families to read books about emotions to their children.
  • Send home a vocabulary list of feelings, and ask parents or guardians to use these words during conversations that allow family members to orally describe their emotions and thoughts.
  • Encourage families to help draw out their children's feelings when they have a difficult time expressing their feelings in words.

Assessment Plan


  • Assess students' understanding of expressing feelings with the Feelings Meterpdf.
  • Assess students' understanding of feelings by asking them to draw and explain specific emotions from a variety of scenarios.


Research Basis

Joseph G.E. and Strain, P.S., (2003). Topics in early childhood special education. National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Research shows that when educators teach children the key skills they need to understand their emotions and the emotions of others, handle conflicts, problem solve, and develop relationships with peers, their problem behavior decreases and their social skills improve.

Church, E. B., (2004). Everyday word play. Scholastic Parent & Child; Apr/May 2004, 11 (5), p67-68

This research shows that communication is central to the learning process. Literacy is about communicating ideas by any means, and there are plenty of opportunities each day to build these important skills. Providing children the opportunity to choose and carry out learning activities independently supports the development of effective self-direction and intrinsic motivation.

Created: 06/25/2007
Updated: 02/05/2018