It encourages participants to explore their expression of emotions at varying intensities and how each level affects the people around them. Some skills they will practice are: emotion regulation, self-awareness, and recognizing feelings in others.
- No materials are needed for this activity.
Tell your participants that you would like to see the range of how they express emotions. Explain to them that when we are sad, it doesn’t mean that our sadness looks or even feels the same in every situation; there are different levels. Provide them with an example (ie. “I got one cookie instead of two” versus “another kid called me a name”), then explain the instructions.
- Have the participants walk around the room in a neutral state and engaging in brief conversations with one another.
- Announce an emotion and call out “1” signaling the participants to begin interacting with one another while expressing the emotion at its lowest intensity.
- At your discretion, move on to calling out the next number, “2,” and the participants’s expression of the emotion should increase slightly. Continue with “3” until you reach “10” when their expressions should be at their maximum.
- After reaching “10,” work through the levels in reverse order, “9, 8, 7…” until you reach “1” again.
- Repeat these steps with another emotion and do as many rounds as you see fit. Three rounds tend to be a good amount.
- Decreasing the number of intensity levels, for example, from 10 levels to 5 levels, will make this activity easier for younger groups.
- Try the activity by preventing the participants from talking to each other or making any sound. This adaptation will allow greater focus being placed on how the body reacts to emotions.
- For older participants, change the emotion at a level other than “1” but avoid switching the emotion while the participants are expressing at high intensities (or anything above 5) as it is not indicative of normal emotional expression.
- This activity can get loud, so make sure you are in a space, indoors or outdoors, where your group can make as much noise as they want.
- Explain boundaries beforehand such as no violence, respecting personal space, and appropriate language.
Gather the participants and ask them how they feel after the activity. Explain that everyone expresses and experiences emotions differently and that, there is no one way to be “happy” or “sad”. Let them know that the purpose of the activity is to explore how unique emotions can be. Close with a few, quick reflection questions, like:
- Which one was your favourite emotion? Why?
- Which level did you find most challenging to express? Why?
- What was your body doing when you were expressing ____?
- What did your voice sound like when you were expressing ____?