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  • Writer's pictureCarla Tanguay, MA, MT-BC

I've Got a Feeling

Talking about feelings can be hard at any age. Exploring the concept of feelings with young children can be even more difficult. Many parents struggle to explain what feelings are in a way that kids can understand. Teaching kids to identify and communicate their feelings  is an important developmental task, and luckily, there are resources and techniques that help.

Music is a great tool for teaching kids about feelings.        

  • Music is naturally engaging and enjoyable.        

  • Introducing concepts and ideas through music helps us to internalize and remember what we've learned.        

  • Music captures many of the less tangible aspects of feelings, making an abstract concept more concrete. 

One of my favorite interventions on this topic takes a familiar song and puts a new twist on it. You probably already know the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” The original song gives instructions for moving various parts of your body to express just one feeling, Happy. You can easily adapt this song to explore a whole range of emotions, along with a variety of movements that help express each feeling.

For example: If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.

If you're happy and you know it, and you really want to show it,

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!

If you’re angry and you know it stomp your feet...

If you're sad and you know it cry boo hoo...

If you’re proud and you know it belt it out...

If you’re silly and you know it wiggle about...

If you’re scared and you know it give a shout...

Kids experience the world using all of their senses. Incorporating movements, props, and various sensory items helps kids internalize these concepts. It is important to offer different ways to learn about and experience a topic. Instead of just singing, act out the various action phrases with your child. Get up and stomp your feet. Make an angry face or clench your fists. Find a favorite stuffed animal to use as a prop and "wiggle about." 

Another adaptation is to make visual prompts to accompany this song. Here are some of mine:

These visual prompts can serve several different purposes:

  • They provide a visual representation of the feeling word and/or action.

  • Placing them on a board from left to right, and pointing to them as you sing, helps support pre-reading skills.

  • Including text along with the picture helps develop reading skills

  • When working with a group, pass out a different card to each child. Then they can hold it up or put it on the board at the appropriate time in the song.

  • Using just the cards, your child can practice matching a feeling with an action

Looking for more songs about feelings? Check out:

Do you have a favorite song or intervention to use to explore feelings? Leave your ideas in the comments section below! 

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