Social emotional learning is a hot topic today, and understandably so. As teachers we care about much more than our students’ academic progress. It is important to talk to students about their feelings and give them the opportunity to express themselves. This isn’t as easy as we’d hope for some students though.
It is rare that a newly arrived English language learner (ELL) will demonstrate behavioral issues, but occasionally it does happen. In my experience this is usually for one of two reasons, or some combination of them. Some are acting out due to some kind of trauma they’ve experienced. The reason they act out behaviorally is usually the same reason other new arrivals behave in inappropriate ways: they don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves. These students often have big emotions and a small English vocabulary. When they are unable to communicate how they feel verbally, they have few other options than to do so behaviorally. This is why it is so important to teach emotional vocabulary to these students. (Side note: the school counselor saw us playing this game and asked if she could have a copy. She said it worked great with non-language learners as well!)
In order to facilitate their emotional vocabulary learning, I developed the game How Do You Feel? This simple cover up game is a fun introduction and practice activity for nine emotions. I explained cover up games in a previous blog post, but I’ll give you a brief review. In short, the goal of the game is to cover up a certain number of spaces on your game board before your opponent can do the same. Sometimes I have students play this game tic-tac-toe style (cover three in a row). Sometimes I require the four corners. Other times I tell them they have to completely cover their board to win. Mostly it depends on how much time we have to play which version I choose.
To play How Do You Feel? the first player will either spin the emotions spinner (paper version) or use the specially scripted emotion generator (digital version). Either way, the student will be given a specific emotion to find on his/her game board. The student then locates the emoji representing the given emotion, and gives an example of a time he/she might feel that emotion (i.e.: I feel tired when I stay up late watching soccer.). If the sentence is correct, the student is able to cover that emoji (I use milk jug lids for the paper version and there are X’s provided for the digital version). Player two then takes a turn. If, in subsequent turns, players spin or generate an emotion that is already covered, the turn is forfeited. The first player to cover the agreed upon amount of spaces is the winner.
As mentioned above, I explained how to make digital cover up games in a previous blog post. This digital game does have a specially scripted menu item though for generating the emotions. Here’s a video to show you what that menu looks like and how to play the game:
One last thing before I go, the script from this game is not available for separate purchase, it’s too specific, but other scripts for making your own digital games are available. Each of the scripts comes with a video showing you exactly how to install and use it. You can use the links above and below to get either version of this game, or any of the various scripts available, for yourself. Happy teaching everyone!