I was just having a conversation with my husband the other day about emotional children. I asked him who is easier to raise right now: our toddler or our teenager. Hands down, he chose our toddler! Most days I have to agree. Emotions are tough, no matter what age you are. I even have big emotions that are hard to deal with as an adult!

Whether you have attitude from a teenager, tantrums from a toddler, or a know-it-all 5th grader, all children and adults need to learn how to identify and deal with their emotions (emotional regulation). Children at home and at school are learning how to better understand how they are feeling and finding ways to manage tough feelings. So instead of running away from home (me… not the children), we planned a family game night with this free printable emotions board game for kids! We had so much fun playing this game!

– Life Over C's Photo collage showing a printable emotions board game for kids.

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for the Free Printable Emotions Board Game

  • Paper
  • Laminating Supplies
  • Paper Cutter or Scissors
  • Game Markers

This game can be a wonderful activity for small groups or a special one-on-one activity with your child.

There are so many benefits to playing board games like this emotions game printable. This fun activity helps build children’s emotional intelligence and helps with social-emotional learning.

Why Are Games For Emotions and Feelings Important?

Teaching children how to navigate their big emotions and use emotional vocabulary can be tricky, but activities like this printable board game make it a little easier!

Emotion games for children are an incredibly valuable tool for helping students learn about how to communicate their feelings and emotions.  

But how can I make sense of feelings through play?

Learning through play is how children learn best, and this emotions board game is no exception!  Playing games that allow children an opportunity to practice identifying and showing emotions helps them learn that it is okay to show and talk about their emotions.

When you practice expressing and talking about emotions in a fun and light-hearted way, children are more likely to feel safe and comfortable talking about how they are feeling.

How Do We Identify Emotions?

One of the best ways for children to identify how they are feeling is by listening to an adult. We are constantly modeling for our children (believe me, they are always watching). Talking to our children and explaining different feelings can help to sort out nuances in feelings, such as excited vs. nervous.

Reading stories to children about emotional situations they may face and modeling how different feelings may physically look on a person’s face or body are also helpful strategies.

How do Board and Word Games Help with Social and Emotional Development?

We all have experienced the disappointment of losing a game. Young children that haven’t yet identified and regulated their emptions can scream and cry, maybe even throw the game board. Just like we teach children how to read, we also need to teach children how to behave.

Showing our kiddos how to deal with a loss, or even a win, helps develop different emotions like empathy, acceptance and learning social skills. A huge part of playing board or word game is taking turns. Sharing, developing friendships, and taking turns needs to be taught and practiced often.

To Prep the Emotions Board Game:

This game is super easy to prepare!

Step 1: Print the game board on paper or card stock. Then print the 2-3 pages of cards on the white side of scrapbook paper (so they aren’t see-through.)

I found that 3 pages worth of the emotion cards were great, but I removed a few of the heart gems so that the kids didn’t get frustrated if they had to move backward too much. You can keep in or take out as many of the heart gem cards as you would like.

– Life Over C's Overhead view of a free printable emotions board game.

Step 2: Laminate all the pieces for durability and cut out the game cards.

– Life Over C's Playing cards for an emotions board game.

How To Play the Emotions Board Game:

Place your marker on the “Start” of the emotions board game. Place all the cards upside-down on the “Card Draw Pile”.

Choose a player to go first.

The player will draw a card from the pile and name the emotion the card is showing. Then the player will move his game marker to the next space that matches that emotion.

If a player lands on a space with an arrow, he will follow the arrow to the new space.

If a “Heart Gem” card is drawn the player will head to the closest Heart Gem space, even if it is behind him. He should answer the question that is on the heart card.

– Life Over C's Close-up image of three game tokens on an emotions game board and a playing card that has the picture of a child and the word "scared."

How Can I Use This Emotions Board Game With My Class?

This can be a great way to launch conversations with your kids about how they are feeling and might give some insight into why a particular child is acting out or having difficulties.

Smaller children might be able to point to the face on the card for that feeling or demonstrate that particular emotion, since they might not be able to recall an actual time they felt that way.

If it’s appropriate, you can talk about the experiences as a whole group.

If you have a sensitive child, you may want to allow them to give short answers and then later have a one-on-one talk with the child.

To win by landing on the last space, a player MUST draw a heart card.

Is This A Good Resource To Use With My Child At Home?

You bet it is! Working one-on-one with your child and being able to identify their basic emotional needs is important. You may find out why your child is afraid of the dark or their happiest birthday memory. Parents and caregivers know their children the best and can connect with them emotionally on a way that others cant. Your young child may be more honest with you than with someone else.

Other Ways To Use This Free Emotions Board Game:

  • If your child can’t think of a time they felt a certain emotion, see if they can remember a time a character in a book or television show was feeling that way.
  • Use the game as an opportunity to talk about what your child can do if they are feeling a certain emotion.
  • Play charades with the emotions card. This is a fantastic way for little ones to practice reading how other people are feeling based on their facial expressions and body language.
  • Print two copies of the emotion cards and set up a fun memory game.
  • Play a “Go Fish” matching game by printing multiple sets of cards.
  • Read some fun books about emotions for kids and continue to help your child grow their emotional intelligence!

Where can I find more resources for identifying emotions?

Some links below may be affiliate links or our personal products.

Here on Life Over C’s, we have lots of emotions activities for kids. Use them alongside a regular theme in your classroom or as a stand alone social emotional unit with your preschoolers.

We also love this Feelopoly game from The Counseling Palette which provides another fun way to help preschoolers learn about big feelings.

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– Life Over C's Close up image of a free printable emotions board game for kids.
– Life Over C's Two photos showing a printable emotions board game for kids.
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Printable Emotions Activities for Kids

author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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  1. Thank you for all your energy, creativity and sharing!!!
    I love your site and what you offer…amazing!

  2. Great page indeed. I loved all the details here. i’m new to blogging and I’m trying to design board games as well coz I find them interesting and very amusing. I may share this link on my blog.Thank you

  3. glad bored was not a ? card. I’m not teaching my kid that word. she will pick it up sometime out there I’m sure. books or church kids. but Im not teaching it. hahahahahah

  4. What a wonderful resource. I have a kiddo who struggles with emotions that would love this game. Thanks for offering this!! Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!!

  5. What an adorable game and a sweet way to connect with your children while teaching them valuable life skills! I love the thought you put into this game! #client

  6. I love this post and how it allows kids to explore their different emotions. Love the board game and Inside Out of course.