Kid Friendly Feelings Tic Tac Toe

There is so much attention and energy put into making sure kids are adequently educated in all academic subjects and we often forget to be intentional about nurturing kids' emotional intelligence as well. In today's blog post, I combine my love for painting and my social work background to bring you a fun art activity you can do with kiddos in your life to practice identifying and expressing emotions!
For this activity you will need 9-10 rocks, paint, paint brush, markers & paper. Gathering the rocks on a rock hunt with your kiddo might be a fun start to this activity!
The idea for this activity is to assign colors to different feelings and paint the rocks to represent various feelings. Every time you play a rock, you have to talk about a time you felt that emotion. For example, if yellow represents happy and you play a yellow rock, you will talk about a time you felt happy, someone or something that makes you happy or something that you've done for someone else that made them feel happy.

There are different variations to this activity and I would encourage you to choose the appropriate variation based on your child's age and level of comfort with talking about feelings.
The most basic variation would be to only choose three feelings to play with such as happy, mad and sad. You will paint three rocks with the happy color, three rocks with the mad color and three rocks with the sad color.
A more advanced variation of the game would be to choose a different emotion for each rock you have and paint all your rocks the different colors you assisgned to each emotion. I would encourage you to make a chart similar to the one above to keep track of what color represents what feeling.
The most advanced variation of this activity would be to paint the X rocks one color and the O rocks another color and to print out a feelings wheel. Each time someone plays a rock, they have to choose one emotion from the feeling wheel to talk about. I would encourage your child to choose a variety of feelings and examples to discuss.

When choosing what color represents each emotion you are covering, ask your child their thoughts. "What color goes with the feeling sad?" Once you're done painting the rocks, add a X on half of the rocks and an O on the other half of the rocks. Draw out a tic tac toe square and you are ready to play!
While this game might seem overly simple or maybe even silly, it allows you to do something "normal", like play tic tac toe, while creating space for your child to learn new emotions and practice expressing them. This skill is super important and foundational in emotion regulation. Plus, it is a great way for you to model what it is like to identify and express your feelings appropriately. It doesn't have to be a big, intimidating thing to do. By doing this activity or others like it, you are only normalizing the expression of emotions.
I created this activity and talked about why I love it on Facebook Live recently. Go here if you want to watch it!
Happy painting and discussing :)

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