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Developing Emotional Literacy Skills with Your Class

Jan 10th 2023

It is not always easy for children to be in tune with their emotions and feelings. Children need support to learn to understand their own feelings and to build empathy towards others.

If you are you looking for ideas to build emotional literacy in your class, consider creating an environment where pupils can talk openly about their feelings and equip them with vocabulary to do this. The poems in ‘An Emotional Menagerie’ can be used to initiate discussions which could lay the foundations for class rules and charters.

The book ‘An Emotional Menagerie’ by The School of Life is perfect for use across the whole-school. In this emotional glossary for children, you will find alphabetically arranged rhyming poems that bring feelings to life. From Anger to Zeal, the advice given is brought to life through the tales told in the poetry. The twenty-six poems each compare emotions to animals making them easily relatable for children. Why not teach children to empathise with the kind bee, the lonely whale or the curious magpie?

Take a look at these suggestions of poems to use with different year groups along with activity ideas for pupils:

Year groupPoemsActivities
EYFSA is for Anger

H is for Happiness

N is for Naughtiness

S is for Shyness
• Read the first verse only of the poems and explore the pictures.

• List animals pupils know, collect teddies and photographs.

• List their characteristics.

• Paint colours and match to feeling labels.

• Match photos of the pupils' faces.

• Make collages of faces and display. Add to this throughout the year.
Years 1 and 2D is for Daydreaming

F is for Fear

K is for Kindness

L is for Loneliness

Q is for Quarrelsome

X is for Excitement
• Create groups of words using the titles and the dotted words in the poem (these are synonyms).

• Look up definitions.

• Make word bank posters for each emotion.

• Draw own colours and faces to match.

• Begin to develop ‘show not tell’ phrases for each feeling e.g. red cheeks – embarrassment.
Years 3 and 4E is for embarrassment

G is for guilt

J is for jealousy

P is for Panic

T is for Tranquillity

W is for Worry
• Create groups of words using the titles and the dotted words in the poem (these are synonyms). Look up definitions.

• Make word bank posters for each emotion. Draw own colours and faces to match.

• Begin to develop ‘show not tell’ phrases for each feeling e.g. red cheeks – embarrassment.
Years 5 and 6I is for Insecurity

M is for Melancholy

O is for Obsession

R is for Remorse

V is for Vulnerability

Y is for Yearning

Z is for Zeal
• Create word banks using the titles and the dotted words in the poem (synonyms) and add further words using a thesaurus.

• In V is for Vulnerability, the poet uses ‘Beetles’ as a verb.

• Use other animals as verbs to create ‘show not tell’ actions e.g. he slothed in the corner.

• Write own poetry verses for favourite synonyms found.

To complement this blog, we have put together a visual guide for emotional literacy that you can hang in your classroom to encourage pupils to start recognising their emotions and applying new words to those feelings. The guide includes labelled emotion characters for easy recognition and a long list of words to help pupils describe their feelings in new ways.

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