Playing with Emotions: Games for Understanding Feelings in the Classroom

In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence in academic, personal, and professional success. Emotional intelligence encompasses the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. With emotions playing such a critical role in all aspects of our lives, educators need to focus on developing emotional intelligence in students. One effective way to do this is through the use of games that promote emotional literacy and understanding. This article will explore the benefits of using games for understanding feelings in the classroom, provide examples of emotional intelligence games, and discuss best practices for implementing these games.

The Benefits of Using Games for Understanding Feelings in the Classroom

Games are an effective tool for teaching emotional intelligence because they provide a safe and fun environment for students to explore their emotions. Games also offer opportunities for students to learn and practice important emotional intelligence skills such as empathy, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. According to research, games that focus on emotions can help students develop a deeper understanding of their feelings and the feelings of others. This understanding can lead to better interpersonal relationships and improved academic performance.

One study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that children who played emotion-based games demonstrated greater social and emotional competence than those who did not. Another study published in the International Journal of Educational Research found that students who participated in a game-based emotional intelligence program showed significant improvements in their ability to manage their emotions and the emotions of others. These studies highlight the potential of games for promoting emotional intelligence in the classroom.

Examples of Emotional Intelligence Games

There are many different types of games that educators can use to teach emotional intelligence. Here are a few examples:

Emotion Charades

In this game, students act out an emotion without speaking, and the rest of the class tries to guess what the emotion is. This game promotes empathy and encourages students to think about how facial expressions and body language can communicate emotions.

Emotion Memory Game

In this game, students take turns flipping over cards with different emotions on them, trying to find pairs of matching emotions. This game helps students develop their emotional vocabulary and recognition skills.

The Feelings Wheel

The Feelings Wheel is a tool that helps students identify and label their emotions. It is a circular diagram that shows the relationship between different emotions and can be used to prompt discussion and reflection on feelings.

Role-Playing Games

Role-playing games provide a more immersive experience for students to explore emotions. These games involve creating a scenario and assigning roles to students to act out. The scenario can be tailored to the specific emotions or situations that the teacher wants to focus on.

Best Practices for Implementing Emotional Intelligence Games

When using games to promote emotional intelligence in the classroom, it is important to keep a few best practices in mind. Here are some tips:

Introduce the Game in a Structured Manner

It is important to introduce the game in a clear and structured manner to ensure that students understand the rules and objectives. This will also help create a safe and respectful environment where students feel comfortable sharing their emotions.

Debrief the Game

After playing the game, it is important to debrief with the students to discuss what they learned and how they felt. This discussion will help students reflect on their emotions and develop their emotional intelligence skills.

Choose Age-Appropriate Games

It is important to choose games that are age-appropriate and relevant to the student’s experiences. Games that are too easy or too challenging may not be effective in promoting emotional intelligence.

Encourage Reflection and Self-Awareness

Games that promote emotional intelligence should encourage students to reflect on their own emotions and develop self-awareness. This can be done through prompts such as asking students to share a time when they experienced a particular emotion or to describe how they might respond to a hypothetical situation.

Be Sensitive to Individual Differences

It is important to be sensitive to individual differences and to create an inclusive environment that respects students’ diverse backgrounds and experiences. Some students may feel more comfortable sharing their emotions than others, so it is important to create a safe and supportive environment for all students to participate.


Emotional intelligence is a critical skill that can contribute to academic, personal, and professional success. By using games to teach emotional intelligence in the classroom, educators can provide a fun and safe environment for students to explore their emotions, develop empathy and self-awareness, and improve their interpersonal relationships. There are many different types of emotional intelligence games that educators can use, from emotion charades to role-playing games. When implementing these games, it is important to introduce the game in a structured manner, debrief with the students, choose age-appropriate games, encourage reflection and self-awareness, and be sensitive to individual differences. With the right approach, games can be a powerful tool for promoting emotional intelligence in the classroom.

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