Big Feelings Unit

Feelings, especially big feelings, are an important part of every day life—especially when you’re little and still figuring them out. This unit will discuss some of the feelings that we all experience all the time, like frustration, happiness, gratitude, and kindness. Some of the books we have selected are classics, while others will add beautifully to your home library and be used for years to come. All of the books and activities in this unit are intended to build on your child’s emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills while encouraging important conversations that will benefit your family for years to come. Want to track your progress? Click here to print our downloadable worksheet for your records.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional extra reading:

  • The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
  • Talk About the Monster by Mistofer Christopher (This playful book is about a little girl who conquers her fear by facing and understanding it. She learns to describe her fear with words to begin the healing process. It teaches and encourages children to discuss their fears and feelings or anything that cause discomfort. It is ideal for kids who are experiencing health issues, a natural disaster, family trauma, or anxiety. We haven’t created any activities for this book in our unit, but it’s a great book for families to keep in their library for when the need arises.)

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Not all big feelings are fun. But sometimes it’s the bad (the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad) feelings that can teach us the most important lessons. In today’s activities, you’ll help your child work through some of these feelings in a meaningful way. Start by reading Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (For additional information and activities on identifying and discussing feelings with preschool children, check out this article.)

Activity 1: Start a conversation about bad days. The story follows Alexander on his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and helps kids identify with what makes people feel badly. Start by asking your child is they can identify what made Alexander have a bad day. This story can be the springboard for great conversations that help your child identify their own grumpiness triggers. Try to lead the conversation to what Alexander could have done differently to help his day go a bit smoother.
(+) This Cause and Effect activity is a perfect upgrade for activity 1. Here, you and your older kid will chart the conversation using a visual aid. This download is a free activity (as of the printing of this newsletter), but you will have to register with your email  in order to download. Please print only page 6. Charting out the cause and effect from our story is an open ended activity that helps to develop reading comprehension and critical thinking. Guide your child to make the connections between the cause and effect of the characters feelings. You will do the writing for your child’s thoughts, allowing them to really engage with their critical thinking skills and not worry about the writing (which is another skill all together).

Activity 2: Play Emotions Bingo with your child to help identify different feelings. You’ll have to provide your email address to receive this free printable and it will appear in your inbox within a few minutes. Be sure to check your spam folder too. Print the game cards (pages 4-6) and as many bingo sheets as you need for yourself and child(ren) on pages 29-33. (One bingo sheet per person, including you.) Use this activity to not only label these feelings but also to discuss coping mechanisms. That link also includes a printable poster you may want for your school room.
(-) Need a modification for a younger child? Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” together. Be sure to act out the movements!

Lesson 2:

Start your day by reading Be Kind.

***For more tips on how to turn a book into a lesson, click here.

Activity 1: Kindness challenge printable chart – Print pages 3 and 4 and encourage your child to track their kindness this week. 

Activity 2: It’s your child’s turn to give a gift with this craft. Adapt this craft to your child’s ability and make one for each member of the family. You should write for your child (if they aren’t writing freely) the qualities they are highlighting. 

Lesson 3:

Read Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? This book will guide your conversations for the next few days. Use it as a springboard to talk about “your family’s bucket” and how we can impact it. Our activities will focus on how gratitude is one way to fill our own buckets and that of others.

Activity 1: Gratitude scavenger hunt

Activity 2: Write thank-you cards. These easy-to-print thank-you cards can be given to family members, essential workers, your local postal worker or anyone you want to show gratitude and appreciation to. If your child is able to write on their own, let them! If your child isn’t ready to write on their own, ask them what they think the card should say, then be their scribe and write their ideas. Have them watch you as you pen their words. Then, have them sign their own name.
(-)If they can’t write on their own, make dash lines to form the letters of your child’s name and have your child trace them. 
(+) If your child does know how to write but has difficulty putting sentences together, use this opportunity to do some meaningful copy work. To do this, you model and write down the sentence first on a scrap paper and allow them to copy it onto the card itself.

Pro tip: Use a ruler and a pencil to make lines for your child to use as guides. If you make the lines light enough, you can always erase them later.

Lesson 4:

Some of life’s biggest emotions can make us scream! Today, we will take a closer look at The Scream by Edvard Munch. (If you have purchased the Usborne book The Children’s Book of Art, it’s on pages 36, 37. If not, you can find it here.)

Activity 1: The artist draws himself screaming in this picture. This children’s art teacher gives a few details you can share with your child about the artist and his style. Here are some question prompts you can use to encourage your child to think critically about the painting:

  • What else he sees in this picture besides the person?
  • What is in the background?
  • How does this painting make you feel?
  • Do you see the dark colors? What those are trying to tell us?
  • What do you think made the man so scared?
  • Do the two men walking away add to the man’s fears?

Activity 2: Coloring page. Print out this rendition of Munch’s painting for your child to color in with their favorite art materials. 

Lesson 5:

We’re closing our our week with happiness and music! Music can make us feel all sorts of emotions. Today, let’s listen to some happy music.

Activity 1: Remember the Bucket book from a couple of days ago? Our bucket gets filled by doing things we enjoy, and this song is a beautiful illustration of someone who finds happiness with one of life’s simple joys—snow.  Share the classic song by Dean Martin, Walking in A Winter Wonderland with your kids. (And feel free to act it out!) 

Activity 2: Snowman craft

We hope you have a wonderful winter break!


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