Using feelings dolls to help children understand emotion

In Montessori education, fostering social and emotional skills is important because it lays the foundation for a child’s holistic development, promoting empathy, effective communication and self-regulation essential for both academic success and lifelong wellbeing.

learning about feeling with montessori children

There are a variety of Montessori-based activities and resources that can be used to teach children about different emotions but something that has worked really well for us at St Andrew’s Montessori is ‘feelings dolls’. These dolls typically have facial expressions or features that represent a range of feelings such as happiness, sadness, anger, surprise and so on.

Young children often struggle to articulate and understand their emotions. Feelings dolls offer a visual and tactile aid, allowing children to physically engage with and explore their emotions. This concrete representation makes an abstract concept more accessible, enabling children to recognise, name and express their feelings in a way that feels safe and familiar.

As children interact with these dolls and participate in activities that involve expressing and understanding emotions, they develop a heightened sensitivity to the feelings of others. This empathetic development is crucial for building positive social relationships and a sense of community within the learning environment.

Feelings dolls also facilitate a multi-sensory experience by incorporating visual, kinaesthetic, and social elements into learning. They fit seamlessly into peer games, and work well in group activities (storytelling or role-playing) to encourage collaboration and cooperation.

When children are given the opportunity to explore emotions in a context that feels familiar and enjoyable, they learn to navigate social situations, negotiate with peers, and understand the impact of emotions on relationships.