Lesson Plan: How Are You Peeling?


Teaching Young Children to Recognize Emotions

Introduce children, ages 3-5, to different types of feelings using the emotive faces of vegetables and fruits with moods. Fun (and yummy) personification provides a starting point for talking about feelings with children and encourages them to think about their own feelings. Parents and early childhood educators can read the book How are You Peeling? by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. As you read through the story with your child, stop and ask questions, such as:

“How do you think that fruit is feeling?”

“How do you know they feel that way?”

“This red pepper looks sad. Do you ever feel sad?”

Honour all of your child’s feelings. Both positive and negative feelings are normal and can feel more accepted when the topic of feelings are incorporated into your daily conversations with your child. Ask your child how they are feeling regularly. Share your own feelings with your child. If you child has trouble expressing his or her emotion, ask them to pick a picture that looks like how they feel. Enjoy a few giggles in the process by imitating the foods’ faces together is a fun way to explore how feelings look and feel.

For a more in-depth use of the book, use (or adapt) the following lesson plan.

Lesson Plan for Early Childhood Educators:

Background & Learning Outcomes: 

This story time and follow-up activities are designed to help children learn to recognize and name different feelings. Children will also learn to identify their own feelings and express them. Identifying feelings is an important skill that enables children to develop more complex skills such as regulating their emotions and solving problems.


  • Book: How Are You Peeling? By Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers

Teaching and Learning Activities (during Story Time):

  1. ACTIVATE THINKING: Introduce the book “How Are You Peeling?” to the children. Ask the group what they think the book is about based on the cover picture and the title.
  2. Read the story. Ask the children questions about the story as you read through it: “How does this fruit feel?” “How do you know they feel that way?” “Have you ever felt that way?”
  3. Choose at least one positive and one negative emotion to focus on in order to emphasize that both negative and positive emotions are normal. 
  4. Read through the story a second time. This time, encourage the children to use their faces to express the same feelings as the foods. 
  5. Ask children how they are feeling at the moment. They can use words or facial expressions to show their feelings.


  • For children who need more of a challenge, encourage them to express their feelings using both words and facial expressions. 
  • If children have trouble expressing how they are feeling, have them select a picture in the book that shows how they are feeling. 
  • If children cannot think of a time they felt the same way as the foods, you can offer suggestions or provide your own examples.

Follow-up Activities:

  • Make other books about feelings available. Consider:
    • Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis
    • Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein, Illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger
    • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • During future story times, re-read “How Are You Peeling” or introduce other feeling books. 
  • Put up mirrors or provide hand held mirrors so children can practice showing their feelings and see what their feelings look like. 
  • Incorporate sharing feelings into the daily routine. You might begin each day by asking children to share how they are feeling. This could be done with words or actions or a combination.
  • Model feelings by sharing your own feelings with the children. 
  • For a creative follow-up activity, provide fruits and vegetables that can be drawn on and still remain edible. (Oranges are perfect for this activity) Encourage children to draw faces on the produce to create their own “foods with moods."

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  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.