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2. Set

In this activity…

Students play Emotion Charades to develop their ability to express emotions and interpret emotional expression using body language, facial expressions, and actions.


Similar to the previous lesson, start with a brief review of the first three RULER skills that students have learned:

  1. Recognizing emotions in ourselves and others
  2. Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
  3. Labelling emotions accurately

Then, check-in with students about their Lab Books and allow them to share any insights, ideas, or questions that have come from working on this project.

Afterwards, tell students that today’s lesson addresses the fourth and fifth skills of an emotion scientist – the ‘E’ and the second ‘R’ in RULER – which are all about expressing and regulating emotions.

Let students know that this lesson marks a shift: The first three skills focused on students' internal emotional experiences, whereas the last two skills will focus on their external emotional experiences.

Through a game of Emotion Charades, students will become more comfortable expressing their emotions and interpreting the other’s emotional expressions. Acting out emotions and identifying experiences that may elicit certain emotions is a great way for students to develop a deeper appreciation for how emotions are expressed using body language, facial expression, and actions. Not only this, but acting out emotions also helps students understand how expressing and interpreting emotions is central to social relationships.

To engage as many students as possible in the activity, divide the class into smaller groups of 4-6 players.

Before class, print enough of the Emotions Charades List for each group to have one list. For each list, cut along the dotted lines and fold each slip of paper in half so that the prompt cannot be read. Place these pieces in empty bowls, hats, or boxes that students can take turns drawing from.

Give each group a bowl with the charades topic and ask the groups of students to spread out in the classroom so that they have lots of space.

Tell students that the charades topics include emotion words that they should act out using facial expressions and body language, or by making up a scenario that might lead to the experience of the emotion. Students will take turns with acting and identifying emotions.

The emotion charades file is available for download in this page's download section.

As they are playing the Charades game, ask students to think about the following questions and let them know that they will be discussing their insights as a class, once the game is over:

  • What emotions did you struggle to express or to interpret? Why might these emotions be harder for you?
  • Were there any incidences where you were confident in your interpretation of the expression, but you did not get it right? What might have led you astray?
  • Did you and your team members ever disagree about which emotion a person was acting out? If so, does this have any implications for everyday life?
  • Do you express any of these emotions differently in your everyday life? If so, how?

After 10 minutes, wrap up the charades game and lead a 5-minute conversation based on the aforementioned questions.