Identifying feelings and understanding feelings is an essential social-emotional skill. This is always where I would start in counseling and where most social-emotional curriculums begin. If a student can't identify how they feel, it's awfully hard to manage those feelings.
While we don't have a shortage of feelings activities or books on feelings, I think In My Heart by Jo Witek should be on bookshelves in every elementary school.
In My Heart Summary & Review
In My Heart is a beautifully illustrated book on feelings. It explores 10 different emotions, creatively describing each. Happy is a big yellow star, shiny and bright. Sadness is as heavy as an elephant.
Emotions that are positive, neutral, and negative are included. Throughout the book, the author makes it clear that we all experience a variety of emotions and all those emotions are okay.
This book is the perfect jumping off point for rich discussions with students about feelings. This can easily be used in school counseling or in the classroom using student friendly activities.
In My Heart Companion Activities
This is a short picture book that can be expanded using an interactive read aloud lesson and student-friendly companion activities. These feelings activities focus on three social-emotional learning standards.
- Recognizes and accurately names feelings.
- Identifies and communicates a feeling.
- Identifies feelings related to situations/events.
Interactive Read Aloud
Interactive read alouds let you go deeper with simple picture books like In My Heart. An interactive read aloud gets the students thinking about books using strategic questions.
Before you read a book with students in counseling, read through it a few times and then start coming up with questions. Try using the following strategies, as appropriate:
- Story Introduction: Tell the students what the book is about, even tell them the ending.
- Think Aloud: Model for students what you are thinking while reading.
- Stop and Jot: Have students stop and write (or draw) down their thoughts about an event in the book.
- Summarize - Use a summary sheet where students quickly tell what happened in the book.
- Integrate Vocabulary Definitions - As you read, provide a synonym or definition for unfamiliar vocabulary.
- Make Connections - Help students make connections between the text and themselves and the world they know.
- Ask Why Question at the End - Ask a question that requires students to make an inference that connects several story events together.
For In My Heart, focus on questions that help students connect the feelings to something they have experienced or they have seen.
Identify Their Common Feelings
On the first page of the story, the main character talks about her heart as a house for her feelings. I just love this concept as a way to describe all the feelings we have inside us.
In this activity, students decide what feelings they feel often and place those in their feelings house.
You can also discuss:
- Feelings that didn't go in their house.
- Situations that cause those feelings.
- What those feelings feel like, literally or creatively.
Creatively Describe Feelings
In the book, the author describes feelings in wonderfully creative ways that you can close your eyes and pictures.
For this activity, students choose four emotions (or fewer) and come up with creative ways to describe how they feel.
- Silly feels like a group of gobbling turkeys.
- Calm feels a tree swaying in the breeze.
- Mad feels like booming thunder.
You can abbreviate this to 1 or 2 feelings.
If your students struggle to come up with metaphors for their feelings, they can come up with synonyms for feelings or identify when they feel that way.
Try having students answer simple reflection questions that show their understanding of the concepts in the book.
- When do I feel this feeling? - Have students consider moments that trigger this feeling.
- How does it feel? - They can be creative and describe the feeling or focus on physical sensations of feelings. For example, shy might feel like hot cheeks and a nauseous stomach.
- What does it look like? - Students can tell how someone else would be able to tell how they feel.
In My Heart definitely makes my top 10 social emotional learning books. I'd love to hear how you use this book or other feelings books favorites you have!
Comment below and make sure to pin this for later.
Keep reading -> Exploring Emotions: Anger Management Activities.