Feelings Matching & Memory Game

Big Brother has been recognizing feelings lately. He asks me countless times throughout the day, “Are you happy, Mommy?” Then, he normally follows up with a “Smile!” (he also uses the “smile” tactic when he is in the throes of being disciplined…he’s already a charmer). Likewise, he recognizes when I am upset.

I had actually planned to do this activity with cute little pumpkin faces, but since Big Brother has been having a little bit of trouble in social situations lately–knowing how to treat other children kindly and taking toys away simply because he wants them–I decided to do it with pictures of real children instead. I know all children go through these stages, but it is not behavior that I am not pleased with and the more “coaching” we can do, the better.

I came up with this activity for Big Brother to do so that he will recognize the emotions of children he doesn’t know by observing their faces while also relating to that emotion by recognizing his own feelings in certain situations. I tried to use pictures from the last 6 months, so that he will remember those feelings that he sees in the picture. This activity provided a positive opportunity to talk about what types of things make people happy and sad in a fun, interactive way. 

It’s a great activity for all children, but would also be beneficial for children with Autism or Asperger’s, as social situations can often create a lot of stress and anxiety.

Here’s what you’ll need:  8 index cards, 4 pictures of your child with different emotions (we did happy, sad, scared, and surprised/excited), 4 pictures of other children with the same emotions (preferably pictures of people who your child does not know–I simply googled images of happy, sad, scared, and excited children), and contact paper.

1. Cut out and mount your child’s pictures on individual index cards (our emotions were sad, happy, surprised, and scared).

2. Do the same thing with the photographs of other children. I made sure to include pictures of boys and girls.

3. First, lay out the pictures of the other children. Explain to your child what feeling each face is showing. Then give your child a picture of himself (one at a time) and have him match his feeling/emotion to the feeling/emotion of the child in the picture. You could also talk about what happened to make him feel the way he is feeling in the pictures (example- the “scared” picture of Big Brother was taken at a butterfly exhibit.

4. Next, play “Memory” with the cards. This is a great cognitive exercise because your child isn’t just matching two identical pictures, he is having to recognize the emotion in the faces and match it to the same emotion on the picture of his face.

And I apologize for the poor picture quality. One VERY sick baby + one active boy + Prince Charming out of town = One VERY tired Momma!

*I have linked up this post to ABC & 123 Show-and Tell and No Time for Flashcards.


  1. Jenae- I just wanted to give you props for not yelling at Anonymous. You have helped me a lot to teach my daughter and I always appreciate it. Thank you for sacrificing time with your family. Don't grow thicker skin for people that hurt you. Grow more dependent on God and his amazing grace that even covers people like that. I just read today, "Rudeness is a weak man's imitation of strength." Edmund Burke.

  2. I'm not even sure that the rude comment was grammatically correct. I believe "whom your child does not know" IS correct. If you rearrange the words, you could say "your child does not know whom" and that is correct, as whom is the object. Just an idea. Keep your chin up and don't let mean people like this discourage you! :) Hugs!

  3. Don't you love that most of the nasty comments on blogs come in under annonymous. That tells you something.

    I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. One little question, what do you do with all of these activities after they are completed? Do you keep them or throw them out?

  4. I think Merry Jo is right – "whom" is correct in that situation.

    And of course you are not perfect – nobody is. I would say to anonymous that tolerance, politeness, goodwill and a sense of humour are arguably more important than perfect grammar.

    I'm a new follower Jenae, thanks for all your energy and the terrific resource that is your blog. I really hope your baby is better and that you've had a chance to catch up on some rest :)

  5. I had to respond to the first post. You are a mother, not an author with an editorial team behind you. You are putting goodness knows how many hours a day into this blog, and since finding it only yesterday I have already used some of your ideas. I suppose that constructive criticism is always helpful, but I do think that this rather rude post should have been more balanced and polite. Your blog is a fabulous resource and I for one am not really interested in your grammar and spelling! Where are the rules that say we have to be perfect all the time? Sorry about the long comment, I get wound up easily! Best wishes.

  6. Love this idea! Can't wait for my son to get to the age to do this with him! He's 10 1/2 months now!

    Like previous people have mentioned, many kudos to you for your response to the Anonymous comment. It was a wonderful example of a very Christ-like response. Your children are so very blessed to have you and I know you will bless the lives of so many other children! Including my own! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and life with all of us!

  7. Hi there, I am a nanny for a two and four year old. I have to say, I love your blog! And I am very impressed. Although it is apparent that you are a christian you have not filled all of your articles with it and have also maintained a healthy male/female dynamic (I have not found a blog as unsexist as this one in a while). You definitely are a considerate person and I feel as though you take other peoples opinions into regard, which can be rare!
    I have been reading your blog all night and have decided that I will use some of these activities when I see the kids next time. (Hopefully the parents will supply the materials). Thanks! =)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *