Emotion Color Swatches

Emotion Color Swatches

Emotion Color Swatches are a cheap and easy way to teach kids different words for emotions and different degrees of emotions.

Here’s how to make them:

  • Go to your local hardware store or pain store and get a variety of paint samples that show three or four different intensities of a color on one sheet (we used samples that showed four colors).
  • On each sample, write words that represent varying degrees of emotions going from least intense (lightest color) to most intense (darkest color).
  • You can make up your own groupings or use the ones we’ve developed which are shown below (you can access a printable copy of by clicking on the worksheet below). We grouped our emotions as well (e.g., red samples related to emotions in the “anger” category, yellow was “joyous” emotions, blue for emotions related to “sad” as so on).
  • Once all of our samples were done, we bound them using a metal ring.

Here’s how to use them:

There are a number of ways you can use the Emotions Color Swatches to help teach kids about emotions:

  1. Encourage them to find an emotion in the stack that describes how they feel now and then discuss what it would mean to move up or down the swatch.
  2. Have them explain why they picked the emotion word they did rather than another one on the same swatch or from a similar card (perhaps the same color if you’ve color coded the swatches).
  3. Encourage the child to act out the least intense emotion and then continuing acting as they move up the swatch in intensity. If you’re working with a group of kids, assign each of the emotions from a swatch to different kids and have them act out the same scene at varying degrees of emotions.
  4. Give the child a mirror and have them show how their face looks different with each emotion. How does it change as the emotion intensifies?
  5. Pick a grouping of emotions and discuss how your body feels as the emotion intensifies. What feels different? What do you notice as the emotion intensifies.

Suggested Emotion Groupings

We used color swatches with four different colors. Here are the groupings we used as well as the color range we selected for each. Feel free to make your own groupings or alter them as needed. You can access a printable copy of this list by clicking on the picture below.

Emotion Color Swatches

Part of the The Super Simple Feelings Management Technique for emotional management (specifically “Say It”) involves helping kids to build a robust vocabulary of emotions. This also involves understanding varying degrees of emotions, and Emotions Color Swatches will help with both!

For more awesome resources for learning about and dealing with emotions, please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Emotions Help Center.
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Written by Wayne Stocks

Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents’ relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families.

Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids’ other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son’s soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship).

You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.