June 9, 2015
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Fans are an amazing tool for communication. They are handy to carry around and can be made up to suit the child.

Fans can be used for emotional literacy – I think everyone who visits this page believes in the benefits of emotional literacy. Children who are emotionally literate do better in life. Learning about emotions at a young age really helps and sometimes that needs to be taught. Some children just do not get the same start in life as others do. There are children who are looked after or who have had a rough deal in the early part of their life. There are children with special needs, children on the autistic spectrum and children with attachment disorder. All would benefit from being taught about emotions. Emotion fans are just the most amazing tool for this and can be used in many situations.

A few fans


Fans can be used for behaviour management. As a teaching assistant or ELSA you might be taking part in carpet time in the classroom. You might be supporting one particular child. Having fans with warnings on can be helpful. Rather than speaking to the child you can show the appropriate fan. It might be ‘Listen’, ‘Stop’, ‘Eyes looking’ etc.

Behaviour fans

Fans can be used to help children to calm down with the appropriate calming technique.

relaxation and calming

Fans can be put together with a range of tools to support a particular child.

Made up one for a child


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There are many different emotion fans available on the site to appeal to all children. If there is a specific theme you want then do contact me and I will try and make them for you.




What are benefits of using fans as a tool?

  • Monitoring emotions on a regular basis – this may be done several times a day, after playtime, lunchtime, lesson time.
  • Learning different facial expressions – show me the happy face, show me the sad face
  • Learning different emotion vocabulary – ask the child to think of different ways of saying ‘happy’ or different ways of saying ‘sad’
  • Useful for children with ASD to learn about facial expressions, emotions vocabulary and empathy
  • Useful for young children who are unable to communicate how they feel.
  • Use alongside a book to identify how different characters are feeling therefore encouraging empathy for others.
  • Emotional regulation – for example learning and recognising that frustration leads to anger
  • Useful for using at home to help regulate emotions and lead to discussion with parents on how they might be feeling
  • Useful when reading social stories to enable the child to see how their actions may affect how others feel
  • Promoting discussion in circle time
  • Expressing feelings – show me how you feel today? Why do you feel like that?
  • Tell me a time when you felt – happy? sad? angry?
  • Learning about positive emotions and negative emotions.
  • Monitoring children who are going through a stressful event such as divorce or bereavement..
  • Behaviour management – if a child is misbehaving it is useful to understand what triggered the behaviour. Was it to do with their emotions and how they feel.
  • It is non threatening – it is much easier for a child to choose an emotion on a fan than to actually say how they feel.
  • It makes talking about emotions a part of everyday life.
  • Ask the child to show you how they feel when they are taking part in an activity or in a certain social situation.
  • Use as a teaching tool – give the children different scenarios and get them to show you how that scenario makes them feel.
  • Essential for an ELSA to begin their sessions whether they are one to one or group sessions.
  • Can be used for monitoring and assessment for learning. Use a happy and sad face and ask children if they understood the learning objective. Happy is yes and sad is no.
  • Children can work in pairs, each child in turn chooses an emotion but hides it from their friend. They must give a clue to how they are feeling but not say the word so for example. ‘I feel this emotion because I had no one to play with at lunchtime’. Their friend must choose an emotion fan and guess how their friend is feeling.
  • Use as a game. Choose an emotion and do some role play on that emotion. So if the child chooses ‘sad’, they must act out that emotion but not say the word. They might speak in a sad voice, they should show the facial expression. The other children in the group must find the appropriate emotion on their fan and then show it all together. Were they all right?
  • As a behaviour management tool after some proactive work on what the different images mean. You can then show the fan and remind the child of the appropriate behaviour.
  • As a calming tool, reminding the child of things to do without having to speak, especially useful in a classroom setting.
  • As a follow up from ELSA sessions. There is a real need for work done with an ELSA to be continued in the classroom, so a fan made up for the child is a good and easy way to do this.

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Emotion fans are simple but so effective at helping children with emotional literacy and they are an essential piece of ELSA Kit but also essential for teaching assistants, parents and teachers.

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There are lots of emotion fans available on the website, some are free and some are a small cost.

I have put together this large pack of emotion/behaviour/calming fans.

The building brick fans are available in the ‘Building brick emotions’ pack¬†and the smilie fans are available in the ’empathy game pack’, Friendship and social skills intervention

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