Series: First Five Early Childhood Education

Building Emotional Literacy
Lesson Objective: Identify and describe feelings
Pre-K / ELA / Empathy


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Thought starters

  1. How does identifying feelings provide a foundation for developing empathy?
  2. Why does Ms. Hawkins provide students with two options for the activity?
  3. How does using mirrors enrich this lesson?

I love when she brought the mirror in as a reflection of what their physical features look like as they express different emotions. I also love the cooperative learning with the students who are not so verbally because they engage in a think-aloud process with their peers to evaluate if they have created emotional expression in connection to the book. The magnetic board and magnetic materials also took away the messiness that can be created with glue, great accommodation for students who are still trying to figure out ways to represent their emotional expressions through their craft.

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1. Children would understand different types of emotions and will understand how it feels to be sad, happy, angry, suprised. The teacher read the book" Go away big green monster" to teach the children about emotions. She also used eyes, nose and a mouth on a poster board as a visual to show the children the emotion of the monster.

The teacher uses an effective strategy of teaching the children about emotions by making collage to create their own faces. Also the teacher used a mirror to show kids how they look when sad or happy.

Using mirrors gives children a visual aspect of emotions. Children will know how they feel and look when they express emotions.



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Thank you for a wonderful video. Jennifer, you are an amazing teacher! Good luck to you and your little students))

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love the vido
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Building emotional literacy in kids at an age as early as three years is very important. The emotional literacy empowers children to learn how to control on constructing their own learning. The children learn emotional literacy by being able to identify their own feelings, through reading books about emotions using audio-visual aids. The teacher uses the song “Go away Big Green Monster” from a book to express different emotions to children. Some of the emotions could be read on the children’s faces. She used precut pieces as visual aids in expressing the emotions. After she was done using the book, she asked her students to use collage to make their own faces similar to what they had learnt in the class, and bring them back into their own emotions on how the monster felt. The teacher used the mirrors to show how they looked like while they imitated the monster’s looks when angry and happy. This gave the children an identity how they were feeling at that particular moment. The magnet board was used by the children to make the faces showing different emotions. These practices make the children become aware of various emotions and how they can be seen on a person’s face.
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  • Building Emotional Literacy
    Program Transcript

    Hawkens (Interview): My name is Jennifer Hawkens. I teach in the younger preschool room, so my

    Building Emotional Literacy
    Program Transcript

    Hawkens (Interview): My name is Jennifer Hawkens. I teach in the younger preschool room, so my kids are three years old. Um, I started with them just last year. Many of the activities you'll see are the same as you have in any good quality preschool program. The intentions behind it include a really high image of the child, and empowering children is one of the main goals. To have control in constructing their own learning.

    Student: I feel happy!

    Hawkens: You feel happy? Can you find happy, Lewis? Perfect. What makes you happy Lewis?

    Student: My mom.

    Hawkens (Interview): One of the ways that we help children develop emotional literacy is helping them identify feelings.

    Hawkens: All right, remember our book? I heard somebody singing the song. Do you want to sing the song?

    Hawkens (Interview): We've been reading a lot of books about emotions. I use books a lot, because they, they have the language and they also have something visual that can go along with it.

    Hawkens & Students: (singing) Go away big green monster, go away big green monster, go away big green monster, go away. Go away!

    Hawkens: Do you remember the story?

    Hawkens (Interview): I really like the Go Away Big Green Monster book a lot. The kids really enjoy it, and I had a lot of different things in mind, and a lot of it having to do with literacy.

    Hawkens: A big green monster has how many eyes?

    Student: Two little eyes!

    Hawkens: Two big…

    Student: Yellow…

    Hawkens: Yellowish eyes. Right. What's next?

    Student: Face!

    Hawkens: Do you think the face was next? Let's look at the book. I don't remember! Two big, yellow eyes and…

    Students: Nose!

    Hawkens: Nose. A long, bluish-greenish nose…

    Hawkens (Interview): That book I find really cathartic for them based on the emotional content.

    Hawkens: What's next? Huh! A big red mouth with sharp white…

    Student: Teeth.

    Hawkens: Teeth. All right. Here's the mouth. Is gonna be happy or sad.

    Student: Mad!

    Hawkens: Mad? Okay, let's make it sideways then. Errrrrr.

    Hawkens (Interview): After the Go Away Big Green Monster story, I had planned two different ways for children to kind of interact and process the material, and one was the collage activity. And I wanted to encourage children to create their own face, and bring them back to emotions and how does your monster feel, is it happy, is it angry.

    Hawkens: …Can you show me how your face looks angry?

    Student: It's kind of…

    Hawkens: Show me what your face, how would you look? Can you show me your face? What does a sad face look like? Aw, yeah, look. Your mouth goes down. How could we make…Oh! That's an angry one. So he's angry, happy, and sad, all at the same time. Look at this! Look in the mirror. You could, show me what your face looks like when it's angry. Can you, oooooh. Does that look angry? You kind of happy, is it sort of silly…

    Hawkens (Interview): The started imitating the faces My monster's like this, my monster's like this. And so I just got the mirror, and that kind of turned into part of the lesson, and I think that cuing in on the physical features of what's going on, it gives them a concrete way of identifying, hm, this is what I'm feeling right now.

    Hawkens: …Well look in the mirror, and let's see Sadie's happy face. How do you look when you're happy? Aww, that's such a pretty smile. Oh! Is the monster smiling too?

    Student: No. He doesn't have eyes yet.

    Hawkens: Oh. He can't smile without his eyes? What if I covered up my eyes? Ready? Can you tell I'm happy?

    Student: Yeah.

    Hawkens: But it's easier with your eyes, huh?

    Hawkens (Interview): And then in the other one they were using the little magnet board with the faces to reenact the story. One child would have the book and could reference the story and the other child could put the pieces onto the magnet board. I think that's a really good way for kids who are, maybe not verbal, maybe just learning language, to participate together in a literacy activity and kind of make that, ideas from that book concrete.

    Student: But where's the teeth? That's the teeth, see? That's not teeth, that's a face.

    Student: See? I told you.

    Hawkens (Interview): Young children learn best through interacting with things that are meaningful to them.

    Student: Don't take it off!

    Hawkens (Interview): …with things that are relating to their life and their interest. Something that they create together.


Jennifer Hawkins


Teaching Practice

Project-based Learning, PBL, Projects, Engagement

Teaching Practice

All Grades/ All Subjects/ Culture

Teaching Practice

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TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement


Lesson Planning


Professional Learning


Next Generation Science Standards