Name Emotion

Acknowledge Emotions, Emotional Acceptance

UDL 5.3

In Name Emotion, a teacher supports early learners in identifying their emotions through reflective listening and expressive language in order to bolster students’ emotional intelligence. When working with young students, the teacher remains actively engaged in observing and “listening” to students’ behavior. As notable behaviors arise, the teacher acknowledges students' emotions and helps students name what they are feeling (e.g., Ella, you are mad. A friend took your toy and you are mad.”). As students gain familiarity identifying emotions, the teacher begins to encourage students to express their feelings using language skills (e.g., “Instead of throwing the toy at your friend, what words can you use to let your friend know how this made you feel?”). Name Emotion supports students' self-awareness and offers validation of powerful emotions, which is effective for young learners that are actively building language and communication skills.

Implementation Tips

Using Reflective Statements
Reflect students’ emotions to validate and acknowledge their feelings (e.g., “You are sad because your friend took the toy you were playing with. This made you feel sad.”).
Encouraging Expressive Language
Prompt students to use language to express their feelings rather than actions (e.g., “Can you help me understand why you threw the puzzle down? Are you frustrated because you couldn’t fit the puzzle pieces together? Did that make you mad?”).
Classroom Environment
Create an environment that promotes and reflects emotional intelligence. Post pictures depicting varying emotions around the classroom, reflect emotions in daily language and offer students access to [[|books]] that promote social-emotional development.
Reinforcing Positive Emotions
Support students in identifying, understanding and discussing positive emotions in addition to more challenging ones (e.g., “You are happy because it is almost time to go outside; you are excited to swing on the swings and that makes you happy!”).
Explicit Instruction
Teach students how to identify emotions through engaging and interactive exercises (e.g., “Can you guess how I am feeling by the look on my face?”; “Can you show me your happy face?”).
Promoting Empathy
Promote empathy by integrating activities and prompts that encourage students to identify the emotions of others. Use prompts such as, “How do you think Jenny feels when someone laughs at her?” Or, “When someone uses nice words, how do you think it makes me feel?”
Following Through
Encourage students to respond appropriately once an emotion has been named (e.g., “Julie, I know you are angry. Your friend took your toy. When you feel angry, count to three, take a deep breath and try to explain to your friend how you are feeling instead of screaming.”).
Remaining Present
Remain present and focused on students behavior, words and body language throughout the school day. While some opportunities to utilize the Name Emotion strategy will be obvious, others may be difficult to spot (e.g., A child that is sad and withdrawn, but not actively disruptive.).


Resolving Conflict
A teacher observes a conflict arise between two students. Luke takes Boris’s toy and Boris begins to cry, isolating himself from play. The teacher intervenes to coach Boris through his emotions. “Boris, you are sad. I see that you are crying. Luke took your toy and you are sad.” To teach empathy and encourage students to resolve the problem, the teacher begins dialogue with Luke. “Luke, do you see that Boris is sad? He is crying because you took the toy from him while he was playing with it. That made him feel sad. Wouldn’t you feel sad if someone took your toy?”
Using a Picture Book
The teacher notices that many students are struggling to identify their own emotions and the emotions of others. To support students in naming their emotions, the teacher facilitates a “picture walk.” The teacher reads [[,204,203,200_.jpg|Waiting Is Not Easy]] by Mo Willems. Throughout the read aloud, the teacher pauses to ask questions and encourages students to observe facial expressions; “How do you think Elephant feels? How do you know he feels this way? Yes, his mouth is wide open and he is shouting!”
Interactive Practice
To support students in identifying, understanding and reflecting emotions, a teacher plans an interactive activity for students to practice emotional awareness. Similar to the classic game, “Simon Says,” the teacher encourages students in reflecting emotions through facial expressions when prompted. The teacher says, “Simon says make a grumpy face. Simon says make a happy face. Simon says act surprised!” As the teacher delivers each prompt, students demonstrate body language and facial expressions that correspond to the given emotion. The teacher scans the room and offers feedback as needed (e.g., Let’s take a look at Jackson’s happy face! He looks very happy. How can we tell that is happy?”).

Related Strategies