Using “think pair share” to discuss emotions in EC


Our EC unit is on expressing ourselves through the arts.  Students will use vocabulary on emotions throughout the unit .  I have noticed during other read alouds that when I ask the class how the character feels, the answers are either “happy” or “sad.” I wanted to give the students more words with which they can discuss emotions.
What we did:

  1. I told the students that sometimes when we read a story we think, “Oh yeah, I know how the character is thinking because I have felt that way before!” I told them that sometimes stories are so powerful because we really understand or connect to the way the character feels.
  1. I read Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems to the class. I asked them to pay attention to Trixie’s feelings throughout the story and decide if they ever thought, “Oh yeah, I have felt that way before!”  I dropped in some of the more challenging words during the story, like, “Oh how annoying that the other girl keeps showing off her bunny” or “How disappointing that another girl has the same bunny.”  This was to help give the students context for understanding these words during the next part of the lesson.
  1. I told the students we would do something called think-pair-share and quickly modeled with my TA what this means.
  1. I gave each pair a card with a clipart picture of a feeling from the story on it.  As I distributed the cards, I quickly explained the words.  The emotions that I distributed were: excited, disappointed, annoyed, angry, silly, panicked, relieved, and happy. I made sure that each partnership had one person who tends to want to share their ideas. The students who have strong vocabulary got the more difficult words.
  1. I gave the students time to think of an example when they have felt this way. Then I had them tell their partners what they were thinking about. Then I quickly had each group share out. (It was important to do this very quickly so the students didn’t get bored!)
  1. Tomorrow I will tape the emotions cards to the whiteboard and reread the story. I will ask the students to tell me how Trixie is feeling as we read it.




This was a great way to extend students’ ability to talk about a story.  I was impressed with how well the students were able to use the new words.  At the end of the day a student’s mother was late to pick him up and he proudly said, “I feel annoyed!”

The students thought of excellent examples for the words. Here are some of them:

  • Disappointed: “When I went to ride the carousel and it was closed.”
  • Panicked: “When I lost 2 of my toys.”
  • Relieved: “When I almost fell and then I didn’t.”

If I did this over again, I would write students’ thinking on a flip chart.  I would put a copy of each clipart emotion on the flip chart ahead of time and then write the students’ connections under the picture.  It would be great to come back to this activity throughout the unit.

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