Something I’ve noticed in my classroom lately is how my students talk about how strong their dads are. It usually comes up when the discussion moves to monsters; “My Daddy could squash a monster!” or “When I am big like my dad I will scare that monster away!” Have you noticed that in your classroom or on the playground too? I think it’s terrific that my students see their fathers as protectors and view them as being able to use their superhuman strength to scare away monsters. However, as a teacher, I am also cognizant that I owe it to these boys and girls to give them a more balanced view of human emotions, specifically male emotions. This preschool lesson about emotions is not just for boys, it is for all children as all children need to learn that strong and brave men can cry, can feel frustrated, and that is normal and OK. I decided to use many pictures of dads for the activity because small children relate to dads.
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Gather your materials. You will need the happy, and sad men printable, scissors, a laminator (optional) and the very best book for this activity is Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley though you could use any book about emotions in a pinch.
Print out the images, cut out, and laminate. Set aside for the lesson.
Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley is a gem! This book is all about confronting and breaking stereotypes. From pro wrestlers to tough guys on Harley Davidsons, to homesick astronauts in space, this book’s premise is simple, but its execution is perfect. Each tough guy is shown in a situation where they are feeling frustrated, lonely, or sad. Many of these uber macho guys are shown crying. This is more powerful than it seems because many students just don’t get to see this. Men are often shown angry but rarely sad or crying. Grab this book; every child needs to read it.
Start with your circle time routine; you have a routine right? If not, it’s not too late. For my now 3-year-olds, I sing a good morning song, do the circle time chant and then it’s time for a book and quick lesson. That’s it. It’s always the same routine, which makes it predictable and sets my students up for success.
After reading the book take a minute to talk about feeling sad. Ask the children if they ever feel sad. Do they think that adults feel sad? Reassure them that yes, of course, adults feel sad and sometimes cry too.
Next, ask them for help. In my class, we often pretend to pop on our detective hats to explore a new idea. Maybe in yours, you pretend to be scientists, whatever works for you, prompt the children that they will be helping you to figure something out. Tell them that you have pictures of men and they need to help you decide if the men are feeling happy or sad.
Show the group each photo. Talk about what’s happening in the picture and encourage the children to either raise hands to share how they think the man is feeling or in smaller classes shout it out. Take time to discuss any issues that might come up with the photos.
End the circle time ( if your students can sit for another minute) with this song! ( PRINT HERE)