Make Tactile Emotes

This project is inspired by The Year We Learned to Fly. Jacqueline Woodson says, "Sometimes the first step toward change is closing our eyes, taking a breath, and imagining a different way." Our beautiful minds and imaginative spirits will teach us how to fly. Read the story of a girl and her brother as they navigate through their daily life, learning to "fly" for better days. 

Find this book at our Chill Zone on your next visit to reDiscover Center. Written by Jacqueline Woodson; illustrated by Rafael Lopez.

Learning how to fly could mean simply being in tune with how we're feeling. Sometimes our emotions could seem a lot bigger than ourselves because of how much they can affect whether we're having a good or bad day. It's important that we look within ourselves and recognize these feelings so we can think, and even more important that we can communicate it with others so they can help us with them.

What are these big feelings? Let's make emotes to show these feelings. It may help us do something about it, and turn a bad day into a great one again.

STEP 1 - Make a List + Gather Your Materials

"What are my big feelings?"

Before getting started, let's make a list of what emotions you feel recently that you want to create emotes of. Our list includes Happy, Sad, Bored, Mad, Confused, and Excited. We sketched out an idea to create a sign where you can hang the emotes to change them as our feelings change.


  • Scissors
  • Canary Cutter
  • Tape (Any kind works. We used packing tape and artist tape)
  • Markers/Pens of different colors
  • Ruler
  • Gluestick/Liquid Glue

Making Materials

For this project, I took a handful of creative reuse materials I could find at home. Make sure to check with an adult if it's okay to use before hot gluing it onto art projects.

  • Cardboard
  • Different colors of Paper
  • Mylar (You can find mylar in snack packaging! Rinse and dry the bag after finishing a bag of chips or cookies.)
  • Any collage material you'd like to use!

STEP 2 - Cut out (6) circles of the same size

From one of our previous activity guides, we showed you how to create perfect circles by tracing an object found in the room that's already round. Let's do that here so we have emotes of the same size!

Trace 6 (or however many) circles you need onto a sheet of cardboard. Using the canary cutter and/or scissors, cut the circles out.

STEP 3 - Draw your emotions

What does it look like when someone's bored? How are the eyebrows positioned on the face to make someone look mad? How are the eyebrows and mouth positioned to show someone is happy or excited? Learning how to read features on people's faces and understanding how we look at real people can help us figure out how to draw and express them in shapes.

Using markers, draw faces on the cardboard to communicate emotions. Use collage materials like paper to decorate/add color. Sometimes adding arms could make it easier to communicate a feeling.

*Pro-tip: Make the expressions more dramatic and exaggerated so it would be easier to tell what feeling it's communicating without having to label it! You see our examples. How can you make yours read better than ours?

Tape some yarn or string onto the back so you can hang them.

STEP 4 - Create an Emote Wall Frame

We have created emotes we can hang. Now we can create the Wall Frame where we can display them! The only requirement is that we should be able to remove the emotes conveniently.

For ours, we cut out a cardboard panel and wrote on the top: "I'm Feeling..." This prompts that you can change the emotes to reflect how you're currently feeling.

We used a Makedo Scru to hang the string on the emotes. If you don't have access to Makedo Scrus, you can also use other materials such as wire, brads/brass fasteners, pins, paper clips, pipe cleaners, and anything else you could think of that you can turn into something that can hold hanging objects.

For Future Adaptations...

Loved this project and want to do more with it? One way to elaborate on this project is for us to brainstorm solutions for big feelings.

  1. Draw or collage what each emotion looks like.
  2. Have a box or container of some sort for each emotion.
  3. In the container of each emotion is a random mix of things you could do if you're feeling ___.
  4. For example, you would write down on some notecards what you would do if you were mad. And then you would draw from the mad box and do that activity. Hopefully, it would make you feel better!


  • Take several deep breaths
  • Scream into a pillow
  • Hammer some nails (with guardian supervision*)
  • Punch a punching bag
  • Draw your feelings
  • Listen to a sad song
  • Have a cuddle puddle with your stuffies
  • Have a cup of tea and cookies
  • Experiment with cardboard
  • Make some paper airplanes
  • Make a ramp for your toys
  • Go on a scavenger hunt
  • Ask if there are chores you can help with
  • Do some jumping jacks
  • Have a race down the driveway (with guardian supervision*)
  • Share your joy
  • Ask a grownup
  • Read a book about the subject

Activity Guide by Hanabee Cartagena, with concepts from Joyce Tam.


For any tips on how to use specific tools safely, visit our Youtube library for Tiny Techniques. 

Check out this video on how much hot glue you should be using on certain materials.


Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources  for more activity guides, access our Tiny Techniques videos, and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your character, share them with friends and family and show them how you take care of yourself, by filling the void in your life in healthy ways! If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We love to see what you make!

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