Emotion Freeze – Research-Backed At-Home Activities – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Emotion Freeze

During times of difficulty or stress, it is especially important for children and adults to be able to talk about their emotions together. Amy Eisenmann, BADM’s Early Education Advisor, demonstrates a fun way to help children recognize the different emotions they—and others—may be feeling.

Learning Goals

  • Communicate Thinking
  • Come up with Ideas and Try Them Out

Materials Required

  • 10-15 index cards or pieces of paper (optional)
  • 10-15 photos of people feeling different emotions
  • Glue, scissors, and a pen
  • Container such as a basket, bin, or bag

Tips for Adults

  • Very young children need help understanding even the most basic emotions (e.g. fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, anger).
  • Children in elementary school are ready to learn about more complicated emotions (e.g., pride, embarrassment, pity).


  • If using, prep your cards for the game:
    • First, find photos of people feeling common emotions such as scared, happy, sad, angry, etc.
    • Cut out the photos and glue one onto each blank index card or piece of paper.
    • Label each card with the emotion represented in the photo.
    • Leave the other side of each card blank.
    • Put all of the cards face in the basket, bin, or bag.
  • Alternatively, you can find photos in books, cut out pictures from magazines, or print pictures off the Internet.
  • Pick a card out of the container (or choose one of the photos you’ve found) without letting children see the image on it. Act out the emotion depicted on the card using exaggerated facial expressions and body language.
    • For example, if you draw the ‘Sad’ card or photo, you could hunch your shoulders over and pretend to cry.
  • Ask children to guess what emotion you are acting out, and to explain how they knew. Help them focus their explanations on what they observed, for example, “I knew you were excited because you smiled and jumped up and down!”
  • Give children a turn to pick a card and act out the emotion. Remind them not to show the card to anyone else.
  • Take turns acting out emotions until all the cards have been drawn.
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