Creature Body Language

Whether or not we are aware of it, we share a lot about our emotions through our non-verbal communication. This week at Tinkergarten Anywhere, we explore how all animals use body language to show their feelings. We'll get inspiration from Animal Feelings in Motion cards, each with an invitation to move and communicate a different type of feeling. What a great way to practice recognizing emotions in ourselves and others.

The Guide

Step 1: Watch the Tinkergarten Anywhere Emotions in Motion video lesson.

Hop into your My Tinkergarten trial dashboard to watch the Emotions in Motion video lesson. Kids can watch how Meghan and other explorers use body movement to express how they feel. Then, kids can get inspired to move their own bodies to recognize and express their emotions!

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Step 2: Introduce the Animal Feelings in Motion cards. 

Print and cut out these Animal Feelings in Motion cards for some creature-inspired ideas (as featured in our Tinkergarten Anywhere lesson). Then, find a spot with plenty of room to move outside.

Show kids the cards and let them know that these have some ideas for how we can move our bodies to express the emotions we feel inside. Or, hide the cards around your outdoor space for kids to discover!

Step 3: Put emotions into motion!

Invite kids to pick one of the cards and guess which emotion is represented by the face on the card. Prompt thinking by asking kids to recall a moment when they experienced that emotion. Share about a time when you experienced that emotion, too. 

Read from the card about some ways that creatures show that emotion through body movement and posture and try moving like the animal together.

Then, invite kids to show you how they like to move their bodies when they feel that emotion. Show kids how you like to move and try out each other’s moves.

When ready, move on to the next card.

Extend Play!

If kids are really enjoying moving their bodies to express emotions, try some of these ideas to keep the play going:

  • Add obstacles—For an extra challenge, welcome kids to make sad, happy, angry, etc. movements as they move through a physical obstacle (e.g. walk along a piece of rope or weave bodies in between a row of buckets).
  • Emotion dance—Listen to a song and notice how the music makes you feel. Then, dance to express the emotion you feel inside.
  • Emotion puppet—Turn a sock and some nature treasures into a nature puppet. Then, enjoy moving your puppet to show different emotions. Read the full DIY activity here.
  • Emotion charades—Take turns acting out an emotion and invite the other person to guess. 

Why is this activity great for kids?

We can learn how to read and even regulate emotions (the foundation of emotional empathy) by paying attention to body movement, posture, gestures, touch and personal space. Acting out emotions through body language helps kids recognize the connection between the two. Through playful movement, kids also learn strategies for managing their feelings, especially the big ones! As kids move like different animals, they will activate their vestibular and proprioceptive senses, two of the hidden senses that help us feel alert, focus our attention and coordinate the function of other senses. Finally, moving like different animals helps foster creativity and inspires pretend play.

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