Checking In: The Emoji Emotions Chart

Emotions in PE can sometimes run wild. The large space, the movement and excitement, and the different opportunities for interaction are both positives and potential drawbacks during class.

When students start to derail, it it best not to immediately jump to punishment since it will be challenging to enforce, hard to deal with in a private manner, and (in the heat of the moment) will usually end up with more yelling and heightened emotions.

Students that are interfering with others and posing risk to themselves and/or others are asked to sit out for a few minutes in my PE class. I wrote about the calming strategies they can choose HERE, but wanted to also share a helpful tool for naming the emotions and big feelings they may be experiencing: The Emoji Emotions Chart

Emojis are fun for everyone and they have the added benefit of being simple and easy to understand for non-readers. 

Naming Emotions

Naming emotions is an important skills for people of any age. In an excellent article in the NY Times, Tony Schwartz explains why:

It’s also true that we can’t change what we don’t notice. Denying or avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away, nor does it lessen their impact on us, even if it’s unconscious. Noticing and naming emotions gives us the chance to take a step back and make choices about what to do with them.... By naming [emotions] out loud, we are effectively taking responsibility for them, making it less likely that they will spill out at the expense of others over the course of a day.


Taught from an early age, students can become familiar with their feelings, the triggers, and the outcomes of those feelings if they go unchecked. 

As a classroom teacher, I taught about emotions, but realize now as a PE teacher that students feel and experience things very differently in a gym. 

Incorporating the practice of naming emotions in PE class is incredibly important, and not just when things feel out of control.

Naming positive emotions is also incredibly important. Allowing a student to name and feel proud after reaching a goal, to feel elated after a challenge was overcome, and to feel helpful when they assist instead of shoot in basketball-- all of these emotions are just as valid and meaningful as naming ones that feel scary or overwhelming.

The Emoji Emotions Chart

This chart is simple, fun and easy to understand. I make a copy and laminate it for the students to see and use. This chart makes an appearance in all of my classes, K-5. 

These emojis are helpful when students aren't up for talking or sharing-- they can simply point and you can get some insight before you step away to let them calm. 

This chart is available as a freebie HERE. When you click, you will go directly to TpT to download. 

Noticing Before, During & After

Using this chart outside of conflict resolution is key. Noticing what students are feeling before an activity, during, then after allows them to see how activity impacts their mental health, not just physical.

Using it after a relaxation can also get them thinking how one calming technique may work better than another.

Introducing all of these emotions along the way makes naming an emotion during a "sitting out" period more normalized. If a student is sitting out of a game, it is not the best time to start teaching a new system. Nor could you with the rest of the class still playing in the gym.

This handy and simple tool is an easy way to start normalizing conversations around emotions and feelings. The more it becomes routine in your class, the more you and your students can notice and name these big feelings. 

"Name it to tame it" is a great way to think about the power of naming emotions. Once it has a name, the understanding can begin.

Download the free Emoji Emotions Chart HERE.

Stay well,

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