DIY Emotional Intelligence Card Games For Kids

emotional intelligence game for kids  I take a lot of pictures of my kids and not just for the blog. I wanted to use these pictures to help my children develop stronger emotional intelligence especially reading other people’s emotions. This may seem like an easy thing to do ” Just look at how they are feeling.” but it’s not. Young children are naturally self centered and giving them playful ways to stop and think about not only how someone is feeling but why someone is feeling like that is a really worthy activity. I decided to use their own faces because they are familiar with them, I am not quizzing them on reading emotions I am just trying to build this skill and using something comfortable and familiar helps them get to the heart of the lesson. These emotional intelligence card games were a cinch to make, let me show you how!

For a similar activity for a much younger audience try our DIY Emotions Photo Book.

Gather your materials. You will need some photos of your kids will all sorts of emotions. You can use other family members or friends as well but I would stick to familiar faces. You will also need  glue, card stock, scissors, and contact paper if you want to make these last for more than a few rounds of games.feelings game for kids

To make the photos a uniform size I find the easiest way is to use an online editing tool like ( no I am not working with them, just a huge fan) and make a collage with all my photos, then print out two copies so I have a pair of each. I made a collage of 16 photos and then printed two copies.Emotion Memory Cards

Cut them out and glue to your card stock. Make sure there is room between each picture so in the next step the contact paper has a spot to adhere.feelings activity for kids

Place the whole sheet face side down on a sheet of contact paper.emotions match game for kids

Cut out and get ready to play.

emotions cards for kids

Before you play go through all the cards with your kids. Talk about the emotions and ask them to choose 2 cards each to talk about. Ask them what they were feeling in the cards, ask them if they can mimic the face and how it feels to do that. talking about emotions game for kids


Game #1


Emotional Intelligence Memoryemotions and feelings game for kids

Shuffle and place all the cards face down.

Take turns flipping over two cards. If it’s a match yell match and then IDENTIFY the emotion on the card. The game doesn’t continue until this step is taken. Spend time helping them read the emotion if you need to. you keep the cards. If it is not a match you return them to the exact location where you got them.emotion game for children

Keep playing until there are no more cards on the table ( or floor) and whoever has the highest number of pairs in their hand wins.


Game #2


Emotional Intelligence Go Fish

Shuffle the cards and give each person a few. Place the rest in a messy pile in the middle.

emotions and feelings go fish game

The youngest goes first asking one other player if they have a specific card. *** This is an important part of the game*** They must as for cards with the emotions. ” Do you have me feeling frustrated?” or ” Do you have you feeling happy?” this is where they will practice the skills we want them to.

If no one has the match go fish. When the player pulls out the card from the pile they must identify the emotion on it if it’s a match, if not place it back into the pile.

The winner is the person with the most matches.



Books About Emotions

Pair activities with great books to deepen learning and understanding. All our book lists include affiliate links.

feelings by aliki


Feelings  by Aliki is a book full of vignettes about emotions. From simple ones that make it clear what the children in them are feeling and how readers could see the situation to more complex and less clear ones that give readers a chance to discuss and decide for themselves what the people might be feeling. I love this book. Neither of my kids liked it as toddlers or preschoolers though. My son started really liking it at about 6 because that was when he could really talk about it all with experience and empathy. We rarely read it cover to cover instead picking and choosing pages and diving into the topic they are covering. It’s not a sugary sweet book but it’s an incredible tool.

when sophie gets angry really really angry

When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang is a book I bought while teaching. I had a lot of anger issues in my classroom and we spent a lot of time reading books about anger to diffuse it. When I suggest this book to parents I often get ” Really , kids like this?” as a response because the book seems much simpler than their expectations. It is simple. It is basic and yes it does include Sophie running away from the house to go be by herself which is something not all parents like. It also doesn’t include any discipline for her outburst which is also something that I hear complaints about. Here’s the thing what kids relate to is feeling angry, doing something about it , and becoming calm.  I think Sophie has great self control , she knows that she needs to go be alone for a bit to calm down and then re-join the group. It’s exaggerated for effect but really this book is about learning how to stop raging not about encouraging it. Kids LOVE it. They relate and love knowing that after you calm down you can be welcomed back into the group.

the way I feel

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain is a useful book. It labels feelings with a short rhyming piece of text and fanciful illustrations. While I wouldn’t suggest this as a book for a nightly read it is useful while specifically learning and talking about emotions. I like to have children show me their faces in the same feelings as the book progresses. If you are reading this with a small group or your child stop and talk about times when you felt these emotions.

For more books about feelings check out our full round up by clicking here. 


#blog4cause { and tips for teaching kids empathy}

headerSomething I have been thinking about a lot during this campaign is how we get to the root of how to teach our children to give, why it’s important and what motivates us to help others.  When Amy, Amanda and I thought about doing this we brainstormed all different ideas and every time we came back to wanting families to teach by example, to base this lesson in their own family values and to make it personal.

Make it personal.

To make something personal we need to understand where other people are coming from, we need to put ourselves in their shoes, to empathize.

teaching kids empathy

How do you teach children empathy for others ?

  1. Show them empathy. Openly empathize with others as an example.
  2. Talk about feelings, a lot. Theirs, yours, anyone’s. Talk about fictional character’s feelings. Connect these feelings to your children. ” Wow Alexander is really angry at his brother. Have you ever been angry at your brother?”
  3. Role play. We use this strategy all the time from preparing our kids for special events like holiday parties to going on the airplane and conflicts with friends.
  4. Work to see their viewpoint as often if not more often than we try to force them to see ours. When your kid is acting up it’s hard sometimes to put yourself in their shoes. It might make you feel soft or like a pushover even. You can still have clear and solid boundaries and consequences while empathizing and it will encourage empathetic responses from your kids as well. Teach by example.
  5. Don’t wait for your child to feel an emotion before you talk about that emotion. Have them practice putting themselves in others shoes. Tell stories true and fictional.  There are a lot of experiences my kids haven’t had but I have and I use those as we explore feelings. It gives them a connection to the feelings without having to have had to experience it themselves, at least not yet.

Once kids can empathize with children in different situations than their own they can really understand why these acts of kindness and giving matter.

I know that in the past week your heart like mine has been filled with empathy, sorrow, and disbelief . Use those tears to do good and to plant the seeds of charity and giving in our children.  Here is a link to all the different ways to give to the families of children and teachers who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Alex's Book Drive

Another post that really struck me this week was on Peanut Blossom . Tiffany and I met at BlogHer in NYC and sadly last week a friend of her’s lost her dear son Alex in a accident in their home. Alex loved to read and in his honor Tiffany has made it super simple to send books to Chicago Children’s Hospital.  I think this is such a wonderful way to remember a child gone too soon while helping others who are fighting for their lives. You can see her post here.

Tally Update

blog4causeSo far little hands have made a big difference by donating over 62 hours of service, 121 food items, 80 toys, and $1554 ! All of this doesn’t just help those in need it helps teach your children how important giving is and how good it makes them feel.

If you have worked in some way for a cause with your kids please add it to our tally here so we can all show the kids what they can do and that even if they did something small that small things add up and make this world better for all of us.

If you have blogged about giving, a charity project or what you have done for #blog4cause add it to our linky below.