11 Fun Social-Emotional Activities for Preschoolers

As adults, understanding the importance of social-emotional development activities for preschoolers is essential. We all want our children to understand and manage their emotions, develop healthy relationships, develop empathy, acquire critical problem-solving skills, and many more.

In this blog post, we'll delve deep into the realm of teaching kids the value of emotional intelligence.

How Do Preschoolers Develop Social-Emotional Skills?

Preschoolers undergo a significant development period in their ability to recognize different emotions and feelings. During these formative years, they learn to read facial expressions, understand the nuances of other emotions and big feelings, and develop a rudimentary sense of empathy.

One of the fundamental ways that children begin to learn these skills is through play and social interaction. Whether they're mimicking facial expressions, using emotion masks, or simply interacting with their peers, preschoolers absorb a vast amount of information about human emotions and social norms.

Why Is Social-Emotional Development in Preschoolers Important?

Social-emotional development serves as the foundation upon which many other skills are built. Through normal social-emotional development, children can:

  • Recognize and manage their own emotions.

  • Understand the feelings of others and empathize with them.

  • Develop problem-solving skills.

  • Foster relationship skills, crucial for personal and professional success in the future.

Social-emotional learning activities are super important for kids. Teaching children about their feelings and how to handle them in a fun way helps them in so many ways.

They learn to understand what they feel, like being happy or sad, and what to do with those feelings. For example, if they're upset, they might take a deep breath or talk to someone they trust.

These activities also help kids see how others might feel. This makes them kinder and better friends. When kids know about their own feelings and the feelings of others, they can solve problems better.

If two kids fight over a toy, they can talk and find a solution instead of staying mad. Another big thing kids learn from social-emotional learning activities is working well with others.

This means talking nicely, listening, and working together in groups. These skills are not just for now but will help them greatly when they grow up in their personal lives and at work.

In short, social-emotional learning activities are like tools in a toolbox for kids. They help kids now and will continue to help them as they get older.

It's all about understanding feelings, solving problems, and being good friends and teammates.

How Can You Support Your Preschooler's Social And Emotional Development?

  • Talk About Feelings: Regularly discuss emotions with your child.

  • Play Together: Use playtime to teach sharing, taking turns, and problem-solving.

  • Read Stories: Choose books that explore various emotions and social situations.

  • Praise Good Behavior: Acknowledge and celebrate when they handle emotions positively or show kindness.

  • Be a Role Model: Demonstrate healthy emotional responses, patience, and compassion in your actions.

  • Set Boundaries: Teach them the importance of rules and limits and be consistent.

  • Encourage Social Interaction: Arrange playdates or group activities to boost their social skills.

  • Use Creative Arts: Let them express emotions through drawing, painting, or music.

  • Practice Problem-Solving: Role-play different scenarios to teach decision-making.

  • Teach Empathy: Explain how others might feel in different situations.

  • Stay Patient: Understand they're still learning; mistakes are part of the process.

  • Seek Feedback: Ask their teachers or caregivers about their social interactions to gain more insights.

Parents, caregivers, and educators are pivotal in a child's social-emotional development. Adults can significantly influence the social and emotional learning process by understanding and responding appropriately to a child's feelings, promoting activities that foster emotional intelligence and positive relationships, and ensuring a safe environment where children feel valued and heard.

What Are the Benefits of Social-Emotional Activities to Preschoolers?

1. Improved Emotional Awareness

Activities like emotion masks allow children to understand and express different emotions better. For instance, At Ms. Karen's preschool, she introduced emotion masks as a weekly activity.

Each mask had a different facial expression, like "happy," "sad," or "angry." On a particular day, little Tommy chose the "angry" mask. Ms. Karen gently asked him why he decided on that mask.

Tommy said he felt upset because his toy broke that morning. Tommy could identify and express his feelings through the emotion mask activity, helping him understand why he felt the way he did. Over time, children in Ms. Karen's class became better at recognizing and talking about their feelings, using the masks as a helpful tool.

2. Enhanced Relationship Skills

Through group activities, children learn how to communicate, share, and work in a team. For instance, every Wednesday, Ms. Lydia's preschool class has "Teamwork Time."

This is when children are given a large puzzle or a group task. One day, they were given a big floor puzzle of a farm.

Jamie and Mia, two children who usually played separately, tried to fit the same piece in the same spot. Instead of fighting, they remembered the group activities' rules: communicate and share.

Jamie said, "I think it goes here because of the cow's tail," and Mia responded, "Oh, I see! Let's try it together." The puzzle came together beautifully, and Jamie and Mia started to playing games together more often.

Such activities helped the children in the class to understand the importance of communication, sharing, and teamwork.

3. Development of Empathy

Recognizing and respecting others' feelings is a cornerstone of language development of emotional intelligence. For instance, Ms. Elsie often played a game called "How Do You Feel?" in her preschool class.

She'd describe a situation and ask the children how the person might feel. One day, she talked about a boy who dropped his ice cream cone. She asked, "How do you think the boy feels?"

When she recalled losing her balloon, Little Sara said, "He must be sad because he was looking forward to it." Another child, Ben, added, "And maybe he needs a hug."

Through these discussions, the children learned to put themselves in others' shoes and understand their feelings. Over time, they became more compassionate and considerate, offering comfort to classmates who were upset or sad.

4. Enhanced Self-regulation

This is the ability to manage to self-control one's emotions, especially in stressful situations, and return to a balanced state. It also involves controlling impulses and behaving in a socially acceptable way.

For instance, Mrs. Brown's "Calm Down Corner" offers a quiet, safe space with cushions. When Ava felt frustrated, she'd visit, take deep breaths, and return calmer.

5. Boosted Self-confidence

This pertains to a child's belief in their own abilities. It is a child's natural temperament and the internal assurance that they can achieve a task or handle a particular situation, promoting a positive view of oneself.

For instance, in Mr. Clarke's class, Emma showcased her drawings as the "Star of the Day." Applause from peers boosted her confidence in her talents.

6. Better Problem-Solving Skills

These are the abilities and essential skills used to resolve challenges or obstacles. It involves identifying the problem, thinking of solutions, trying out those solutions, and evaluating their effectiveness.

For instance, Ms. Naomi's story sessions had kids brainstorm solutions. Once, they discussed animals sharing fruit, leading to ideas on compromise.

7. Increased Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity or challenges. It's the strength to cope with setbacks and continue to try, even after facing difficulties.

For instance, Ms. Rose's stories of characters facing challenges, like a bunny perfecting its hop, instilled a never-give-up attitude in the children.

8. Improved Communication Skills

These skills effectively convey thoughts, needs, ideas, and emotions. It includes both verbal communication (talking) and non-verbal communication (body language, facial expressions).

For instance, Mrs. Johnson used role-play to teach young children about communication. Sam, once shy, acted out scenarios, gaining confidence in expressing himself.

11 Fun Social-emotional activities for Preschoolers

1. Emotion Mask

Let children craft masks representing different feelings. They can then wear and discuss these masks, helping them understand various facial expressions.


  • Gather craft materials: paper plates, markers, glue, craft sticks, and various decorating supplies.

  • Ask each child to think of an emotion.

  • They should decorate the mask to represent that feeling.

  • Attach craft sticks to use as handles.

  • Children can show their masks and discuss why they chose that emotion.

Example: Little Sophie made a "sad" mask because it rained, and she couldn't play outside.

2. Role-playing

Simulate situations where kids can practice their problem-solving and relationship skills.


  • Think of everyday scenarios or use storybooks as a base.

  • Assign roles to kids or let them choose.

  • Use props or costumes if available.

  • Guide the children in acting out the scenario, prompting discussion or solutions if needed.

Example: Two children acted as shopkeepers while others were customers. They practiced manners, negotiation, and even math skills.

3. Feelings Chart

Use a chart where children can pin how they feel each day. This lets them recognize their own emotions and appreciate the range of emotions their peers experience.


  • Create a chart with emotion names and faces (like happy, sad, and angry).

  • Each child has a marker or sticker.

  • Every morning, each child places their marker on the emotion they feel.

  • Discuss as a group or individually about why they might feel that way.

Example: On Monday, Jake placed his sticker on "worried." He shared it was because he had a new babysitter. His friends offered comforting words.

4. Storytime Sharing

Delve into captivating stories that allow you to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of characters' feelings, emotions, and reactions, providing a profound insight into the world of children. Let the power of storytelling transport you to new realms and unlock the wonders within the hearts and minds of the young ones.


  • Pick a story rich in emotions.

  • Read it aloud to the kids.

  • Discuss each character's feelings and ask kids how they would feel in similar situations.

Example: After hearing about a bear who lost his favorite honey pot, Mia said she'd be "very sad and upset" if she lost her toy bunny.

5. Emotion Wheel

Introducing a captivating spinning wheel game designed specifically to teach and explore various emotions. This interactive and engaging activity encourages understanding emotions and prompts meaningful discussions surrounding the complexity and nuances of different emotional states.


  • Create or buy a spinning wheel and divide it into segments.

  • Label each component with a different emotion.

  • Let children spin the wheel.

  • They should share a time they felt the emotion the spinner lands on.

Example: The spinner pointed to "excited." John recalled the day he went to the zoo and saw lions for the first time.

6. Friendship Bracelets

Engage in a delightful craft activity that promotes gratitude and kindness. Create beautiful crafts while fostering appreciation and spreading warmth through acts of kindness, and this enriching experience brings joy and fulfillment and cultivates a culture of gratitude and compassion.


  • Provide string, beads, and other bracelet materials.

  • Let children design their bracelets.

  • Please encourage them to give their bracelet to a friend and explain why.

Example: Sarah made a blue and pink bracelet for her friend, Emily, because those are their shared favorite colors.

7. Emotion Bingo

It is an incredibly enjoyable game that helps children recognize and name various feelings and encourages them to understand and express their emotions in a healthy and constructive manner. Through interactive activities and engaging gameplay, children can develop valuable emotional intelligence skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.


  • Create bingo cards with images of faces showing different emotions.

  • Make or buy emotion cards to draw from.

  • Children mark off the matching beginnings on their cards as each emotion is called out.

  • The first one to get a row/column filled shouts "Bingo!" and can discuss when they felt that emotion.

Example: When "happy" was called, Tim remembered and shared his joy from his last birthday party.

8. Music and Movement

Dance and move to express emotions inspired by music and movement activities. Engaging in various movement activities will further enhance the kid's dance experience, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the art form and express themselves creatively.


  • Play varied types of music (e.g., sad, cheerful, energetic).

  • Ask the children to move or dance based on how the music makes them feel.

  • Afterward, discuss the emotions the music evoked.

Example: When a slow, soft melody played, Lily swayed gently and later said it made her feel calm and peaceful.

9. Emotion Puppets

Puppets, with their expressive movements and imaginative performances, skillfully act out a wide range of emotions and relatable situations. This captivating form of storytelling allows children to interpret and engage with the narrative, fostering creativity and emotional understanding in a playful and interactive way.


  • Have an assortment of puppets.

  • Create or buy scenarios for the puppets to enact.

  • After the puppet show, discuss the emotions displayed and the outcomes.

Example: A puppet named Daisy felt "lonely" at a playground. Another puppet named Max joined her, showing the value of friendship.

10. Feelings Thermometer

A visual tool that aids children in comprehending and evaluating the intensity of their emotions, providing them with a means to understand and express their feelings more effectively.


  • Create a large thermometer on paper or board.

  • Mark sections from "calm" at the bottom to "very upset" at the top.

  • Provide markers or pins for kids to place on the thermometer based on their feelings.

Example: Nina placed her marker near "frustrated" after a game. She shared she found the game challenging, prompting a discussion about perseverance.

11. Compliment Chain

Engaging in an activity that promotes a positive mindset and boosts self-esteem can transform an individual's overall well-being. By actively cultivating positivity and embracing self-worth, one can experience greater empowerment and fulfillment in various aspects of life.


  • Sit children in a circle.

  • Start by giving one child a genuine compliment.

  • That child then gives a compliment to another child, and so on, creating a chain of positivity.

Example: Mia started by complimenting Jake's neat coloring. Jake then praised Lucy's helpful nature, creating a ripple of positivity in the class.

Bottom Line

Promoting social and emotional learning activities in preschoolers allows them to learn social-emotional skills and grow into emotionally intelligent individuals. Understanding different emotions, empathizing with others, and navigating social situations are critical life skills everyone should possess and start early, and the journey becomes smoother.

At Simplified Playground, we prioritize your child's holistic development. With curated activities to boost social skills and emotional intelligence, we ensure your child receives the best foundation possible.

Join us in our journey to make learning fun and emotionally enriching!


What is an activity that can build social-emotional skills in preschoolers?

Role-playing is a fantastic activity that allows preschoolers to make social stories and practice problem-solving and relationship skills.

What is a social-emotional learning activity for toddlers?

Emotion masks are ideal for toddlers, allowing them to recognize and express different feelings.

How do we teach social-emotional skills to preschoolers at home?

Engage in activities that mimic real-life social situations, discuss different feelings, and use toys to role-play various scenarios.

What are preschool emotional regulation activities?

Deep breathing exercises, feeling charts, and emotion storytelling effectively teach emotional regulation.

What are some emotional development activities for early childhood?

Apart from emotion masks and role-playing, storytime sessions focusing on characters' feelings and puppet shows can be immensely beneficial.