Lesson Plan: Teaching Emotions

I’ve posted a number of ESL/TEFL activities using little or no resources (you can find those here and here). Recently, I did the following lesson with my English club (which I host twice per week at a local NGO). I liked it so much I thought I would post my whole lesson plan.

I was inspired by something similar on Pinterest, and asked my awesome friend Katie to include some paint chips in a care package she was sending (she did). This lesson plan doesn’t require much else in the way of materials. Here is what I used:

  • Paint chips in yellow, blue, purple, green, red, and gray
  • iPhone + Jam speaker
  • Index Cards
  • Paper

(I used the paint chips to list a range of emotions in English. On one the side of the chip, I listed the main vocabulary word in Albanian.)

paint-chip-teaching-emotions-esl-tefl

Yellow:

  1. Contented
  2. Glad
  3. Delighted
  4. Joyful

Blue:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Blue
  3. Heartbroken
  4. Depressed

Purple:

  1. Uneasy
  2. Tense
  3. Agitated
  4. Anxious

Green:

  1. Envious
  2. Covetous
  3. Jealous
  4. Possessive

Red:

  1. Irritated
  2. Mad
  3. Upset
  4. Furious

Gray:

  1. Dread
  2. Afraid
  3. Frightened
  4. Horrified

The Lesson:

For a warm up, I played the song “Happy” by Pharrell twice, using my iPhone + speaker. First, I asked students just to listen to the song, in order to become familiar with it. After that, I asked students to listen to the song again, and count (using tick marks on a sheet of paper), how many times the word “happy” appeared in the song. (For the record, three of my students counted 28 times, while my other two students had different numbers. The point wasn’t to accurately discover how many times the word was used, but rather to have students practice listening for a specific English word.)

[As a variation to this, you could print the lyrics to the song but delete certain words, and have students listen for/fill in those words.]

Next, I had a discussion with my students about emotions and what they mean. I passed around the paint chips and asked them to copy down the new vocabulary words. ( I had a small group of students. I think this lesson plan could work with a larger group, but you would probably need more copies of the paint chips to pass around.)

Then, I wrote this sentence on the board: “Today I feel _____ because ____.” We went around the circle and each student stated how he/she was feeling, and why.

Next, I asked each student to draw three index cards from the pile I made. Each index card listed a different scenario. Here is what I wrote:

  • Your mom yells at you.
  • You are watching your favorite television show.
  • You got a stain on your favorite shirt.
  • You are playing outside with your friends.
  • You have a big test at school.
  • You broke your arm.
  • You are eating dinner with your family.
  • Your friend got a new iPhone.
  • You lost your dog.
  • Your little sister broke your favorite toy.
  • Your best friend gets a puppy.
  • Your best friend is moving away.
  • Two of your friends go to lunch and don’t invite you.
  • You are lost in Pristina.
  • You are walking alone in the dark.
  • You got into a fight with your best friend.

Students then had to read their scenarios aloud, and identify which emotion(s) they might feel in that situation.

Then, I asked students to write one sentence for each category of emotion, and read them aloud.

We were close to running out of time by this (the group runs for 1 hour), but in the last few minutes of class, I asked students to choose one of the sentences they wrote and draw a picture to illustrate it.

What I like about this lesson plan: 1) It doesn’t require much in the way of material. 2) It incorporates audio learning, visual learning, speaking aloud, critical thinking, creativity, and kinesthetic learning.

I did this lesson with a group of middle and high school students. I think it’s too advanced for younger kids, but there are probably ways to modify it and make it easier.

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