Iceberg Emotions Activity - Elsa Support

Iceberg Emotions Activity

This is an Iceberg Emotions Activity and is a lovely tactile way of exploring visible and hidden feelings and emotions.


The emotions iceberg is a metaphorical representation of the concept that there are visible and hidden aspects to our emotions. It suggests that what we express or display on the surface is just a small part of the broader emotional experience we have internally.

The iceberg is divided into two main parts:

  • 1. Visible Emotions (the ones that show on the surface)
    These are the emotions that show and what can be seen
    Visible emotions could include happiness, anger, sadness, excitement, fear, surprise, and disgust.
    They are usually accompanied by recognisable facial expressions, body language, and vocal cues.
  • 2. Hidden Emotions (the ones that are hidden under the surface)
    These are the deeper and less visible emotions that lie beneath the surface.
    Hidden emotions are often more complex, and influenced by personal experiences, memories, beliefs, and thoughts.
    Examples of hidden emotions include shame, guilt, jealousy, anxiety, vulnerability, insecurity, loneliness, and grief.
    Identifying hidden emotions requires  self-awareness, and empathy towards oneself and others.

We do have paper resources for this concept and you can find them here. Emotions Iceberg display pack

emotions iceberg display

The emotions iceberg emphasises that people’s emotional experiences go beyond what can be seen at face value. It encourages individuals to delve deeper,  and acknowledge the underlying feelings that may not be immediately apparent. By understanding and recognising the hidden emotions within ourselves and others, we can foster empathy, emotional intelligence, and more meaningful connections.

Emotions iceberg activity instructions

You will need

  • Ice cubes (shaped ones are nice)
  • Emotion word cards
  • A bowl with cold water
  • A jug of warm water

Ask the pupils if they know what an iceberg is. Explain to them that despite the massive size of an iceberg, only a tiny portion is visible above the surface of the ocean. To visually demonstrate this concept, you can place an ice shape in a bowl of water, showing how most of it remains hidden beneath the surface.  You could also use a clear glass to demonstrate.

You can enhance the activity by using ice cube trays that resemble icebergs, which are available for purchase on platforms like Amazon. These ice cube trays have a similar shape to an iceberg, making them perfect for this activity.

You can use these small emotion cards  alongside this activity. Pick out ones that may remain hidden such as sadness, anger, anxiety, depressed, ashamed etc.

Give each pupil an ice cube and a small bowl. Ask them to  choose emotion words that reflect what emotions might be visibly seen on the surface. These words could include happy, sad, angry, or any other appropriate emotions. Use the emotion cards. Explain that these words represent the emotions that are typically expressed and shown on the surface.

These bowls are from Amazon and I liked them because they were translucent so looked a bit like the ocean.

Allow the children to hold the ice cubes and describe how it feels in their hands. Notice how the warmth of our hands starts to melt the exterior.

Next, ask the children to place their ice cubes into their bowls. Pour some warm water onto the ice cubes, explaining that this represents an act of kindness or care from someone like an ELSA, teacher, or friend. As the warm water makes contact with the ice cubes, observe how they start to melt and gradually reveal the hidden feelings concealed within, such as anger, sadness, anxiety, or any other emotions the children chose. Help the pupils relate that to themselves and how they feel when someone is kind and empathetic towards them. Does it help them to bring these hidden emotions to the surface and talk about them? Also help them understand how they can show kindness and empathy towards others because when they see friends, family etc showing difficult emotions then there is likely to be something underneath causing that emotion. Perhaps they can help their friends and family by showing kindness.

Through this activity, children can understand that acts of kindness and support can create an environment where hidden emotions are gradually revealed and acknowledged. It helps them recognise that individuals may be experiencing emotions beneath the surface, and by extending empathy and care, we can foster an atmosphere where these hidden feelings can be expressed and addressed.

Let’s be aware of our emotions and show empathy to create a world where hidden emotions are understood and accepted.

We have this lovely pack on the website that you could use after this activity or instead of this activity.



Other Resources you will love!
Relaxation Mindfulness Bingo Set 1
Relaxation Mindfulness Bingo Set 1
Relaxation Mindfulness Bingo Set 1

Relaxation Mindfulness Bingo set 1 – Item 199

Children all love bingo so I have made this Relaxation Mindfulness Bingo Set 1 suitable for up to 8 children. This set has 9 ideas…


Autumn Tree - Letting things go
Autumn Tree - Letting things go
Autumn Tree - Letting things go

Autumn tree letting things go – Item 320

I love this quote about trees letting things go by shedding their leaves. It inspired me to make this Autumn tree, letting things go display…


Find the emotion synonym KS1/EYFS – Item 432

Find the emotion synonym - There are 2 different versions included in this pack. One for  KS1 and one for EYFS The KS1 version has…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Lost your password?

Purchase Advanced Credit

What's this?

Choose the value of credit you would like to purchase. Note that the minimum purchase is £10.00

If you would like to purchase an amount not shown, click on Other amount and enter your required amount in the box that appears.