Writing is a great tool for navigating the complicated world of human emotion. It helps us not only express our feelings, but understand, accept, and even overcome them. As Anne Frank once wrote in her diary, “When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!”
In kindergarten, your students are just beginning to effectively and meaningfully communicate their thoughts and emotions with others. Because they are still learning the ropes, they may struggle at times to find the right words to explain how they feel—in part because they may still be working out how they really feel. Writing activities which explore emotions can help your students become more comfortable and familiar with their own feelings—and express them more clearly—in a safe and engaging manner.
Writing Activity #1: “What makes me feel…?”
This activity allows you to tackle a wide range of feelings simultaneously with your kindergarten students, and is a great introductory lesson for expressing emotions through writing. Start by writing down one emotion on each of a set of blank notecards. Be sure to keep them simple and relatable for your kids—things like “happy,” “scared,” “worried” or “proud.”
Shuffle the cards face-down. Have students pick a card at random. Whatever emotion they get is the one they will be writing about for this exercise. They may write this as a list, or you can provide them with a simple writing strategy, such as framed sentences, to help them structure their answers. Then, ask them to share their responses with the group or with the class. For a longer, more in-depth lesson, you can then ask students to swap cards and repeat the exercise as many times as you like.
Writing Activity #2: “When I’m sad, I…”
Negative emotions can be especially difficult for young people to express constructively and cope with effectively. This writing activity helps your kindergarten students explore a negative feeling with a positive frame of mind by asking them to write about what they do to feel better when they’re sad. Maybe they talk to a friend, do jumping jacks, or cuddle with their favorite stuffed animal. When they’re done writing, ask them to share their responses—with a friend, a group, or the class. Who knows? They might walk away with a few new ideas to try the next time they feel blue.
Writing Activity #3: How does kindness make you feel?
Instead of asking your students to consider the emotion first and an action second, this writing activity takes a deep dive into whatever feelings might be inspired by a particular event. By specifically having them write about how they feel when someone is kind to them, you are encouraging them not only to explore their own feelings but also fostering a sense of gratitude and helping them see why being kind to others is so important.
Writing Activity #4: Facing fears together.
For this feelings activity, ask your students to write down something that makes them feel afraid and why it makes them feel that way. (Make sure to let them know ahead of time that they are going to be sharing this information with fellow students!) Once they have written down their response, ask them to swap papers with a classmate.
Then, ask them to consider the other person’s fear and how it makes them feel and why. Are they also afraid? Maybe one person doesn’t think clowns are scary because they make funny jokes, or maybe they’re not afraid of spiders because they think they’re cute. Sharing fears with others can help students to not feel so alone, and maybe even help them to overcome them!
Exploring Feelings with Fun Classroom Activities
Feelings can be confusing and challenging for youngsters still learning basic communication skills. Engaging and entertaining writing activities like these encourage your kindergarten students to examine and express their feelings in positive ways, helping them to acquire and build upon important life skills that will continue to serve them well in the future. At the same time, by publishing their work, you’ll build their confidence by helping them feel that both their hard work and their feelings are accepted and acknowledged, by you and by their peers—and that’s something every student deserves to feel.