Teaching Kids about Emotions with Animals

14 January



Temple Grandin, her example is amazing. But aside from being inspiring for anyone who has ever seemed to march to the beat of a different drummer, she also shows how people who aren't considered "normal" can still do great things.

It's something all kids need to see.

Something they should all know.

You don't have to look like, act like, or think like others to do something meaningful.

And this book, The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca, can introduce Temple Grandin and the idea that someone different can still make a difference.



My girls especially enjoyed this book because they have been very interested in biographies lately.

In fact, my daughter claims to love history because of them.

The book clearly shows how Temple was different throughout her entire life, and how she was still able to overcome her challenges to do something meaningful.

Because she thought differently, she could see things in a new light. And she could appreciate things other people didn't notice, like when cows were stressed. Then she went out to find a way to make it better.

How do you tell a cow is stressed?



Yep. Animals show emotions like people, albeit, not the same range.

Emotions are something all children need to grasp. Especially to become empathetic adults.

And understanding animal behavior is not a bad thing to know either. At least you know when to stay away!

So we came up with a little game to practice emotions and animals.

How to Put Together an Animal Emotion Game

  1. Start by printing your cards. Card stock is better then paper as the pictures won't show through as much.
  2. Laminate them if you like. (We use this laminator; cheap and works great!)
  3. Make 2 piles. One emotion pile and one animal pile.
  4. Have kids choose one of each card and act out the combination.
  5. Everyone else guesses.

Multiple Ways to Play

It isn't as easy as you think unless you are familiar with animal behavior, but you don't have to act out the actual animal behavior.

She's an angry cat.

My kids found it easier to act out the emotion card and then the animal card. Then we discussed how an animal might actually appear in that situation because I did want to them to learn more about animal behavior.



If you aren't familiar with how animals act in a certain situation you could also do a little research, turning this into a fun animal science activity.

A couple animal behavior hints: 

  • Animals say a lot with their ears, head carriage, and tail. Ears back = bad!
  • Pay attention to sounds they make too. 
  • Sad, nervous, embarrassed emotions will look pretty similar for your animal cards.  I'm not sure animals even feel embarrassed!

So there are basically 4 ways to use these cards.

  1. Practice actual animal emotions.
  2. Play a game of charades where you guess the emotion followed by the animal.
  3. Practice just animals.*
  4. Practice just emotions.*

*These last two options are more appropriate for younger kids, while older kids can handle the other options.



Download Your Copy of the Animal and Emotion Cards below!




Thanks to Rosella's Room and Rebekah Brock for the Clip Art!



This game certainly won't make you an expert in animal behavior, but it can help kids recognize emotions in both people and animals. And recognition is the first step in understanding.



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