This lesson plan gives the classic card game Go Fish an emotional makeover! Students work on their expressive and receptive vocabulary and understanding of the five basic emotions, all while practicing social skills, taking turns, and following the rules of the game.
- Hand-eye coordination
- Social skills
- Turn taking
- Following game rules
- Expressive identification of emotions
- Receptive identification of emotions
- Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Emotion Cards.
- For this activity, you will need to pull the 40 cards that show the people in front of a white background. These are the only cards you will use for this lesson.
- Depending on your students’ reading ability, the back of each card may need to be covered to hide the emotion label. I recommend using the top portion of a Post-It note (the sticky part) or using Scotch Removable Magic Tape to tape a small paper over each label.
- Card Holders optional
- Emotions Cheat Sheet optional
- Some students may benefit from a “cheat sheet” listing the 5 emotions used in the game (with pictures supports if needed) to reference during game play in order to remember which emotions are being learned. See an example here.
This game is best played with 2 – 5 students, with staff support as needed.
- This game can support up to 7 students if each player receives 5 cards in their “hand”. However, with 7 players there will only be 5 cards in the “pool” (see Set Up below) so the pool may run out quickly.
- More students could play if it is decided that each player has a fewer number of cards in his/her hand to begin the game. (For example, if each student receives 3 cards instead of 5 to begin the game, 10 students could play and there would still be 10 cards left in the pool at the start of the game.)
- Staff support is to ensure that the rules are being followed as well as to facilitate appropriate social skills and turn taking. Staff can also support conversation during game play that is relevant to the emotions being discussed.
- Students should sit around a table so that they can see one another.
- The 40 cards should be shuffled and distributed to students so that each player has 5 cards (or less, if that is what has been decided upon prior to the game beginning; see People above).
- The remaining cards are placed in the middle of the table facedown and are referred to as the “pool” (or pond, or ocean, etc.) for the remainder of the game. This is where players will pick a new card if told to “go fish”.
- Players (with staff support as needed) decide how many cards will make up a “match” for the game. Since there are 5 emotions depicted between the 40 cards, each emotion appears 8 times. Therefore, matches can be made as follows:
- 8 cards per match = 5 matches. Each emotion will have 1 match.
- 4 cards per match = 10 matches. Each emotion will have 2 matches.
- 2 cards per match = 20 matches. Each emotion will have 4 matches.
- I recommend using 2 or 4 cards per match as that allows for more overall matches and increases the likelihood that each student gets at least one match throughout the game. It also makes physically managing the cards a little easier for students, as they don’t have to hold on to/keep track of as many cards before being able to put down a match on the table.
- Once each student has their cards, the players should begin to identify the emotions depicted on the cards they were dealt.
- Players can be prompted to put similar cards together in their hand to help keep track of the emotions they have. For example, all cards depicting happy can go together.
- Before beginning game play, a staff facilitator should ask if anyone has any matches. Any student who has a match should show the cards they believe make the match and verbally identify the emotion the cards represent. After all matches have been shown (see step 7 below for more on confirming matches), students (or staff) can decide who will go first.
- The player whose turn it is to play looks at their cards and decides which emotion they would like to ask for. (The player must have at least one card of the emotion they are requesting.) They then choose another player to ask for that emotion. To ask for the card, the student may say something like, “Bob, do you have any sad cards?”
- The student who was asked for the cards then looks at the cards in their hand and decides if they have any cards showing the emotion that was requested. If they do have the desired emotion card(s), they then give all cards of that emotion to the player who asked for them. If they have none, then the student making the request is told to “go fish,” and they draw a card from the pool and place it in their own hand.
- Then it is the next player's turn – unless the card drawn from the pool is the card being asked for, in which case it is shown to the other players, and that player gets another turn.
- Play proceeds to the left.
- When any player at any time has a match (2, 4, or 8 cards of the same emotion as decided upon before game play began), the cards are placed face up in front of that player.
- When all matches have been laid down, the game ends. The player with the most matches wins!
Want to learn more about the Language Builder Emotion Cards? Download a free sample of the cards below!