Happy Face

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Name of Teacher: Sean McKiernan
Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary School 1st - 6th grades
Textbook and specific lesson: Happy Face, Facial Expressions
Goal: Students will be able to say the names of facial expressions
Preparation: Seven large cards (about 1' in diameter) with different facial expressions and colors.
Class time: 45 minutes

The expressions I use are: happy(2x), sad, mad, surprised, silly, and sleepy. Feel free to use different expressions and emotions, but I would be careful of exceeding seven total for purposes of the final activity.


Begin with the standard greeting and ask the children, “How are you today?” Allow them all to answer as a group the first time. Follow this up by picking individual students from the group and asking them separately (you won't be able to ask everyone in larger classes). While asking for individual responses do not allow the children to repeat the answers that previous students have already given. Once the class seems to have run out of ideas for how to express how they feel, it is time to move on.

Introduce the face cards:

Introduce each of the face cards to the students by holding it in front of your face. Initially try to prompt them for the English, but supply the word to them fairly promptly if they are at a loss.

Ex:  “What face is this?  How does he feel?” *wait several seconds* “Happy! This is Happy Face.”

The more dramatic and emotive you are the more the children will enjoy. After you have introduced all the faces be sure to review one more time before moving on (I usually do a rapid review to test their memories). Always show the cards in the same order to assist with memorization.

Drama exercise:

For the next portion have all the students stand up. The next activity is an exercise where the students all join in. They clasp their hands together and raise them over their heads. Make all the students make their most serious expressions. Prompt them with one of the faces and then have them lower their hands past their faces; changing their expression to the face on the card as they pass their face. Leading by example is key with this activity as some of them will be shy. Over exaggerate all your expressions and actions.

Final activity: Happy Face play.

The final activity is a short play called “Happy Face, Happy Face.” For this activity you will select 7 students and give each of them one of your faces. You will then do the “Happy Face, Happy Face” chant for each of the faces.

It goes as follows:

“Happy face, happy face. What do you see? I see a sad face looking at me.”

“Sad face, sad face. What do you see? I see a mad face looking at me.” etc.

As each face is said, the corresponding student stands up and comes to the front while holding the card in front of their face. Trying to get the audience of students to repeat the words of the chant with you will most likely not be possible. Instead, try to get them to tell you which face comes next (assuming you have kept the order constant throughout the class). Once all of the students with cards are standing at the front try to take a photo of them both with the cards in front of their faces, and with them making the faces on the cards themselves. You will likely have to repeat the play two or three times (in large groups it is simply not feasible to give everyone a turn performing but this shouldn't be a problem).

If possible wrap up the class by passing out happy face stickers. This really ties things off nicely.