Feelings cards help kids and adults with identifying and coping with emotions.
What face do you make when you’re happy? What about sad or angry? Basic feelings are fairly easy to recognize, but others can be trickier – are you truly mad or actually jealous? Is your friend sad or did you accidentally hurt their feelings?
Emotions can be confusing at any age – for kids, teens, and adults alike. Here are some ways that feeling cards may help, along with flashcard options and related resources for each age group.
1. Familiarize feelings words
We all need language to communicate our feelings. Feelings flashcards are a good way to start. You might begin by just reading through cards, to start with familiarity.
For younger kids, build up to defining the emotions. For older kids and teens, discuss what might make someone feel each emotion.
2. Practice emotion recognition
Are you a teacher or school counselor who works with social-emotional skills? Feelings flashcards are a fun and less threatening way to open up the talk about feelings. Use feelings card decks to play games, such as matching feelings or Go-Fish. Students can even draw or collage their own cards.
3. Support neurodivergent clients
If you work with neurodivergent clients, you know it helps to get creative. Each child or adult may learn differently, so flashcards can be a way to explore learning styles. With printable card versions, you can even create decks for each client, or spread out the feelings between students to study or discuss.
4. Offer tools for emotional expression
Do clients who visit your office have trouble identifying feelings? Even looking through a long feelings list can be a bit intimidating. Instead, keep a feelings deck in the room for your clients to shuffle through to find their emotion. I’ve found this tool to be helpful even if we’re not discussing feelings. Just having the cards around can prompt a related discussion.
5. Identify helpful coping skills
Identifying feelings is a start. The next step is figuring out what to do with them. Do you ride them out, distract yourself, or use a coping skill? There are appropriate times for all three. You can use emotions card games or flashcards as a way to discuss coping strategies.
Shop Feelings Decks
Not sure what deck or decks to use? Here’s a list of decks that are downloadable, as well as pre-printed options. The best deck will depend on your goals and age group(s). Take a look below!
Magical Emotion Cards
The Magical Emotions Cards downloadable set is great for kids and kids-at-heart. It includes two decks, one with a dragon theme and the other with unicorns. The decks can be combined or used separately.
Together the magical deck include 52 feelings words, along with synonyms for each. There are two versions of the basic decks - one with feelings words on the front with the emotional faces, and one with words on the back, so you can use them more like traditional flashcards.
There are also other variations for popular kid’s games, which I’ll outline below. Here are some example emotion words included in the deck:
The Go Feel! version of the deck is modeled after Go-Fish. You can print two or more copies of the feeling cards, and players can play just like the original game.
If you like, you can add a discussion portion, where players discuss the feeling or answer a prompt each time they make a match. Further instructions are included. Get Go Feel! here as part of the larger deck set.
The emotions match card version is based on the Match Game, where kids turn over cards and try to remember the matching set.
However, instead of matching the exact images, you match the feeling word with the feeling image.
This deck is unicorn and dragon-themed, and a variation of the overall card deck. It’s a fun and easy way to work with feeling identification and empathy. Download it here.
Happy Dragon is modeled after Old Maid, however players aim to keep the Happy Dragon card in their hand by the end of the game.
Like with the other variations, you can keep the game basic, or add prompts as you play. For example, once a hand is over, turn over the sets and discuss each feeling.
Chronicle Books Feelings Flashcards
This set of Feelings Flashcards includes simple, basic cartoon drawings of human faces, good for younger children.
Learnworx Learn Feelings Flashcards
The Learn Feelings Flashcard set is similar to the Chronicle books cards, however they are a bit more complex and include full-body images. They are also appropriate for younger kids.
Empathy Set for Adults
The Empathy Set, created for adults, includes both feelings and needs card. It helps with developing language around feelings and discussing how to work with emotions.
Other Feelings Tools
Looking for other tools to use along with flashcards? Check out these other emotions resources.
Magical Coping Skills Cards
The Magical Coping Skills Cards deck is part of the same series as the Magical Feelings deck. You can mix and match and use the cards together however you like. For example, you can choose difficult feelings and then match them to appropriate coping skills. Learn more about the coping skills deck for kids here.
FEELOPOLY is a feelings game designed to help kids, families, and groups work with emotions. The focus is on understanding and validating feelings, whatever they may be. Check out the game here.
Therapy Shuffle Card Game
Therapy Shuffle is another coping skills game for adults. It doesn’t focus primarily on feelings, but it does cover coping skills and is consistent with working with emotions. Learn more about the game here.
Feelings worksheets can be a great alternative or complimentary tool to feelings flashcards. Here are a few worksheets to check out.
Anger Iceberg Worksheet
The Angry Iceberg worksheet is based on the anger iceberg model, and the idea that secondary feelings sometimes get buried under anger. It’s the starting worksheet in a set on anger management for kids. Download the PDF here.
Feelings Volcano Worksheet
The Exploding Volcano worksheet builds on the anger iceberg, helping kids recognize the triggers and signs that lead to anger. It’s part of a set, which you can view here.
Mindful Mountain Worksheet
The final piece of the anger management set is the mindful mountain. Kids explore and identify coping skills to help them minimize outbursts and respond to anger in more helpful ways. Get the whole set here.
Anxiety Management Plan Worksheet
This handout for adults walks through causes of anxiety, factors that perpetuate it, and how to create a plan to cope. Learn more here.
Strong Emotions Worksheet
This PDF for adults gets into the nitty-gritty of difficult emotions for adults. You can better identify feelings and decide whether to ride them out or use a coping skill. It’s a popular and helpful worksheet for many clients. Download it now.
Entire Therapy Store Bundle
If you’re looking for a comprehensive set of tools to use with all ages, you can’t go wrong with our Entire Store Bundle. It includes dozens of activities, including games, worksheets, journals, guides, and more. Learn more and download the bundle here.
Jennie Lannette Bedsworth, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed therapist with advanced training in trauma, anxiety, and PTSD. She has years of experience providing therapy and running therapy groups and trainings.
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