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Thursday 2 August 2018

How to set up an EYFS Thinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision Area

It might sound like a bit of a mouthful, and of course you could change the name, as long as the intention stays the same - but a 'thinking and feelings talking station' was a KEY area in my Reception classroom and the name allowed for me to make sure it was accessible for all whatever the emotional need....

Thinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable

Have you made a sad choice and you need to have a think about how we can make it better? Go to the thinking station. Are you feeling upset about something and would like some help and support? Go to the feelings station. Fallen out with a friend and need to come to an agreement? Go to the talking station. All of these scenarios are linked to a child’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSED) - but the idea of doing something about these big feelings that you can’t see can feel so abstract to a child, it can be impossible to control. Giving children a designated area where they can go to for support, advice, resources or even just to feel heard is crucial in order to help them learn how to manage their personal, social and emotional development independently...

Emotions area for EYFS - dealing with and talking about emotions 

If you are reading this as a professional or an educator within a setting, then the provision area will also give you some much needed TIME to make sure that no child is ignored, or pushed aside in a busy classroom. If a child has logged a worry at the station and you just don’t have the staffing levels to deal with it right there and then (and let’s be honest, that IS the way classrooms are heading these days) then make sure you set aside time each day where you do find a moment to give the worry the attention it deserves.

Teaching young children is not just about reading, writing and maths - none of that matters unless we are bringing up children to have some understanding of their feelings and an ability to voice their worries.

Now, I’m not talking about training children not to have tantrums, not to misbehave or having unrealistic expectations of behaviour at a young age. All young children have tantrums, all young children push the boundaries and all young children will have moments of frustration where they struggle to share, or become easily upset or angry. We aren’t trying to dampen their spirit, it’s an important part of their emotional development to face these scenarios. What we can do is help to validate their feelings without shaming or excluding them. We can give them some tools and also some tangible resources - things they can see and hold which help to explain their feelings in a way they can understand - so that they are on a positive path of growth and learning that is developmentally appropriate.

What resources do I need for an emotions area?

Emotion Dolls:

PSED Emotion faces dolls

In my original classroom provision area I had some Russian Dolls with different emotion faces, which worked well, but they were tricky to use in practice. For my home setting I made these peg pot dolls  which I painted using white acrylic paint and drew the faces and words with coloured sharpies. 

The children can use the word labels on the pots to help them to identify and recognise how they are feeling and also to aid writing when they fill in a feelings slip which I have made available as a free printable for you to download here: FREE PRINTABLE FEELINGS SLIP:

Free Printable feeling station writing opportunity
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You can add this printable as an image onto your interactive whiteboard and model for the children how to fill this in independently. I always had an expectation that all children would fill in their name (name lists were provided to aid and scaffold) and depending on the child and their age, stage and ability they would either tick which face best described how they feel, Continue the "I feel" sentence by using the words on the peg doll pots or extend the information by attempting to write a short sentence about what happened. Children can then ass their slip to a box for adults to discuss with them later on at a quiet and appropriate moment.

In order to make your own emotion dolls, here are some Amazon affiliate links to the resources I used so that you can order your own. If you order through these links within 24 hours of clicking, then I will receive a small amount of commission from Amazon which goes towards the running costs of this blog:


No More Worries Kit:

This No More Worries Kit from the Irish Fairy Door Company contains a mini worry plaque for children to place their finger on the plaque and express their feelings and give their worry away. The idea is that whilst the plaque glows red, the fairies are listening to their worry and once it turns green, you know that they have taken your worry away. Pretty amazing huh? 

My three year old absolutely loves this, and the mini size with the clip means that it can be taken with you wherever you go. They also do a full sized plaque which fits a whole hand which would look brilliant on a provision area wall. You can find the full sized  interactive worry plaque here.

No More Worries Kit

Here are some images of the mini plaque in use whilst glowing red and green:

worry bag idea red worry plaqueworry bag idea - green worry plaque

The No More Worries Kit also includes a feelings journal for children to mark make and record their thoughts and feelings and also some wonderful conversation cards...

feelings journal and mini worry plaque

worry table conversation cards

What else should you include on your PSED table?

Recordable buttons: These talking point recordable buttons would work well attached to different emotion faces or labels to help children to identify the emotion and check they thay have chosen the right word.

Easi Speak Microphone: I used one of these as a 'turn taking' aid when children may have had a falling out and needed to sort out their problem and resolve the issue. Their conversations could be recorded  and then the Easi Speak plugs straight into a laptop or computer via a USB plug at the end which provided valuable observation data for the children linked to their communication and listening skills and also personal, social and emotional areas of learning. Of course, this is also a great tool to use if you are looking to integrate technology into your environment which works well in an EYFS setting.

Child safety mirror : An imperative tool for many children but especially those who may struggle to recognise emotions. Providing a mirror for children to use to identify their own facial expressions and how they may be feeling is a really important part of this provision area, but it has to be safe. I chose this fun splash mirror which is available in larger and smaller sizes. 

Once modelled properly, children are able to use this area independently and the feelings slip (download above) not only adds an element of literacy to your area, but is an invaluable record of who has visited the provision area so that you are able to find the child at an appropriate moment later on and discuss their feelings slip with them and give them the time they need to discuss their feelings with an adult after they have done what they can to help themselves using the resources provided.

'On the go' worry bag:

If you are using this idea for one child in particular then these resources work really well as part of an 'on the go' worry bag to take anywhere with you. In our worry bag I have included the mini worry plaque, the emotions dolls, the conversation cards, a mini mirror and also some relax balm from Aromatherapy Associates. 

on the go worry bag for talking about feelings and emotions

Is there anything you would add to this provision area which has worked well for you, or you feel that the children would also benefit from??

Thinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable

Sarah x

Disclosure: We were sent the mini worry plaque for inclusion within our provision area and in return for a mention within this post

Enjoyed this? You may also like my post on tuff tray Activities for open ended play.


Thinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PIN

Thinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PINThinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PINThinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PIN

Thinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PINThinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PINThinking and Feelings Talking Station Provision area free printable PIN

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