Being Creative with Emotions

Hi! My name is Joanna and I have been teaching students at Wingrave school for over 6 years now. Drama was never my forte or area of study so you can imagine my anxiety when suddenly I had to teach the subject. Somehow I have overcome the fear and students and their needs became a focus. As well as teaching turn taking, exploring instruments and self-expression in dance and music one of my focuses was emotions. I had one particular student in mind as he was always “happy”. I wanted to give him the opportunity to act out other emotions to become familiar with what happens to our body and actions when we are angry, calm or upset.

First I have introduced a well-known “Simon Says” game with a twist. I remember the concerned expressions of the class staff, when one of the students chose “cry” for the first time and acted it in front of everyone. We were all astonished and proud as this young man who was always happy was able to pretend he was crying and explain why he might do so. I asked him “why do people cry?” and he answered “because (they are) upset”.

Since then our focus on teaching emotion has changed and developed. Recently we have changed the “If you’re happy and you know it” song so that it reflects other feelings e.g. angry – stomp your feet, stressed – go for a walk, calm – relax.

I have linked the drama with PSHE sessions and in class we continue to learn about and talk about our feelings and emotions. The staff and I model the emotions to the students. We constantly question them to tell us how are they feeling and why.

Over the past few months we have made so much progress. This “happy” student is now “excited” about his favourite activities. However at times he is able to say he is upset or sad. He is also able to identify how his peers are feeling and what he can do about it. This impacted on his self control and significant reduction of behaviours of concern.

Joanna Gondek
MacIntyre School Wingrave


  • Leander McFadden says:

    Fabulous reflection – thank you for sharing – great to see different approaches being tried to gain somebodies understanding and trust.

  • Lorna G says:

    What a great way to let your students express themselves. Very inspiring. Keep on doing What your doing. They are as individual as we all are and this was such a pleasure to watch

  • Emma Killick says:

    Thanks for sharing Joanna – great blog and a wonderful creative way of exploring emotions with people. It’s important that people understand it is OK to feel sad or angry – even if that might make those of us around them feel uncomfortable at times. Be warned I may take to singing that song myself some days – I suspect it might feel very therapeutic.

  • Jeremy Bugden says:

    Joanna, well done this looks a great way to improve understanding when it comes to sharing, or at least showing, emotions. Someone gave me a great example of a coke bottle getting fizzier and fizzier each time an emotion is not expressed, and kept to oneself instead – the consequence being anxiety and frustration.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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