Name That Feeling!

Invite students to exchange stories about recent memories and interpret each other’s feelings.
Ages 8-14 / 45
min Activity
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  • Write a paragraph about a recent memory, using descriptive details to convey their emotions (rather than telling the reader) 
  • Listen to others’ stories and try to guess the emotion(s) they were trying to express
  • Understand that people experience and express their emotions in different ways, and the importance of trying to recognize others’ feelings  
  • Share their stories with another class through a live virtual exchange (located in the “Extensions” tab)

Supporting Research

Developing emotional competence is a crucial skill for students, as it enhances their ability to recognize their own feelings and identify others’ feelings based on situational cues. A higher level of emotional competence empowers students to effectively regulate their emotions and form positive relationships with their peers and educators. This activity aims to foster students’ mindfulness as they identify and express their emotions through storytelling, and emotion recognition as they try to identify others’ emotions from their stories. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.


Activity Partners

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  1. Begin the activity by asking students: “Have you ever heard of “show, don’t tell” when it comes to storytelling? What do you think it means?” 

    After students have shared some ideas, you might explain: “It’s a storytelling technique where we reveal information to the reader through details, rather than directly saying it. For example, instead of writing “Ana was happy”, we might describe “When Ana finally got a puppy, she couldn’t stop smiling. There was a warm, fluttery feeling in her chest every time she looked at his floppy little ears.” These details make a story more interesting to the reader, because they have to use their imagination to figure out what’s happening. Today, our task is to write a short paragraph about a recent memory using details to convey our emotions. Then, we’ll challenge our classmates to guess how we were feeling! Are you ready?”
  2. Give students a few minutes to think about a recent memory, and jot down key details about who was there, what happened, and how they felt. 

    Then, students should use these details to write a short paragraph about their memory. Remind them that the goal is to show their emotions to the reader, rather than telling them how they felt. 

    For example, students can use similes in their paragraphs, which are figures of speech comparing two different things using the words “like” or “as”, helping the reader visualize and connect with their emotions more deeply.

    Provide examples like:
    • My stomach felt like a swirling tornado of nerves, twisting and turning around. 
    • Everything felt dull, as though there was a heavy, gray cloud hanging over me. 
  3. After they finish writing their stories, divide the class into small groups of 3-4 students. Each student should take turns reading their story to the group, while the others try to guess the emotion(s) being expressed in their story. Then, the writer can let them know whether they are correct or not. 
  4. Finally, engage students in a reflection by asking the following questions: 
    • What was your favorite detail that someone included in their story? Why? 
    • Was it easy or hard to guess someone’s emotions from their story? What clues or hints helped you figure it out? 
    • Was there a story where you used your knowledge of the author’s personality and background to guess their feelings?
    • Can you share about a time when you were able to understand someone’s feelings without them telling you? How did you know? 
    • What are some ways that we can recognize people’s emotions in our interactions with them? 
    • Why is it important to understand how someone might be feeling? How does it help us be kinder to them? 

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.