Emotions are something your children will deal with throughout their entire lives. They must understand how feelings affect their behavior and how to keep them under control. Teaching kids all about their emotions can be done in a number of ways, and it’s something that should be fostered in toddlers and preschoolers before they even begin school.
That’s why these emotions playdough mats can be great for homeschoolers or just little hands that enjoy molding the dough. What better way to teach than to incorporate a lot of fun?!
Materials for Using the Emotions Play Dough Mats
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- Printable Emotions Playdough Mats and Task Cards
- Laminator to laminate (or use page protectors)
- Heavy Card Stock for durability
- Playdoh (our favorite play dough recipe)
- Plastic Sensory Play Trays
- Task Card Boxes
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How to Teach Using the Feelings Playdough Mats
Start with using these playdough mats as a great introduction to the various emotions your children may feel. They can take their time exploring each card and representing the feelings with the playdough.
Each day, you can use the mats as a fun way to do an “emotional check in” for the kids. Ask how they are feeling and let them choose a mat to answer. Older kids can take the blank face card and use the playdough to express their emotions.
When reading books about feelings for kids, use the playdough face mats to reinforce different emotions the characters may have. There’s also a number of mindfulness and relaxation books for kids you can use these playmats with.
These mats can be added to many emotions activities. They are helpful when children don’t have the words to describe how they feel – they can simply choose a mat!
Using Playdough in Therapy
Playdough can be a great way for children to let out their emotions and expressions during therapy. Having a familiar toy they can focus on may make them feel more comfortable talking with their therapist. Pounding and squashing the dough can be a great stress reliever as well.
Therapists can use playdough in directive and non-directive play sessions. With non-directive, the playdough is out and the children are free to play with it as they wish. In a directive play session, the therapist can ask the child to create themselves or their current mood.
How Do You Teach Emotions to Preschoolers?
There are several ways parents and teachers can reinforce different emotions to the youngest learners. While reading books, ask the children how they think the character is feeling and why. When someone gets upset or sad, acknowledge the emotion by name and ask them how to make them feel better.
A fun game adults can play to teach emotions involves making different faces and have the children guess the appropriate emotion. When the kids guess correctly, further the conversation by asking what makes them feel that way too. You can also ask the kids to show different facial expressions (ex. “show me your happy face!”).
Songs can also help foster your children when learning emotions, as they will reinforce the vocabulary regarding feelings in a light, fun way.
What are Social Emotional Learning Activities?
Social emotional learning (SEL) involves children gaining social skills to form healthy relationships and self-regulation of their own emotions. It is vital to present social emotional learning when possible, as these skills are needed well beyond childhood.
There are many social emotional learning activities you can do to foster these skills, including:
- Acknowledge and accept whatever your child tells you they are feeling.
- Have the children do random acts of kindness whenever possible (we love this packet on random acts of kindness for kids)
- Give each child a classroom/home responsibility each day.
- Teach breathing exercises and other calming techniques for when a child is angry or feels overwhelmed.
- Role-play situations where a child may need to manage their emotions and model how to navigate difficult emotions in your daily life.
- Read books that involve social emotional learning concepts.
- Recite daily affirmations for kids to boost self esteem and self image.
What’s Included in the Printable Emotions Playdough Mats PDF?
The printable PDF file will have a set of color and black & white cards. There are blank faces for older children, or those that are more advanced in sharing their emotions through play.
There are also full page emotions mats for smaller hands to have a lot of space to work with the playdough. Smaller task cards sized emotion cards are also included that can be used as in photo sized boxes for centers.
Looking for more playdough mats? Find all the play dough mats we have shared on site here.
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