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Language Play with Basic Concepts - emotions 😁

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Now your toddler or preschooler has an expressive vocabulary of over 50 words and is starting to make two word combinations, so... what's next?

Next up - basic concepts, feelings edition!

socio-emotional language play

These are some of my favorite play-based ways to help develop toddler and preschooler language (BONUS being able to identify feelings and emotions doesn't just help develop language, it's socio-emotional learning too!)

Pretend Play

The easiest, no-supply-needed, kind of way to play with emotions is to just act them out. Maybe you act out a favorite scene from a movie or book, or just pick an emotion and really ham it up.

socio-emotional language play

What are the favorite dolls, stuffed animals or figurines at your house? I found the perpetual smile on all of the faces a little monotonous, so I jazzed them up a bit with some sharpie (a little hand sanitizer will clean it right off when you're done!) for some extra emotion options. E


TV shows and movies are another fun place to practice identifying emotions. I like using wordless video shorts because I find the characters a little more expressive. Plus, it just adds to the challenge when they don't give it away by shouting "I'm so mad!" at the first opportunity.

BONUS - if you have a slightly older sibling watching along, challenge them to tell you how we know what the characters are thinking, see if they can pick up on what parts of their facial expressions and body language we attend to.


Last, but certainly not least, go hunting for emotions in books! Don't feel bound by a certain level of books, or thinking you need to actually read the story - just today I spent a solid 15 minutes "reading" a kids graphic novel by pointing out different

actions and feelings.

socio-emotional language play

I could go on all day about how much I adore Mo Willem's books but that's probably a blog post all by itself. He's got lots of great books, but the Piggie and Gerald series is my favorite. The language is simple, but the emotions are complex! These books are great for expanding beyond happy/sad.

If you think you'll feel pressured to read the actual words, go for fully wordless options. Flora and her Feathered Friends is a fun series, but there are tons of options. Otherwise, just pick anything with pictures and go for it!

Remember to have FUN!

Do you have any questions or concerns about your child's speech and language development? Reach out today to schedule a free initial consultation!

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