Teaching animal emotions through pictures

What emotion do you see in this picture?

In our Sharing the Planet unit the class will be exploring sustainability and the impact our energy sources have on animal habitats.  As the unit progresses I am hoping to have the students write a story about how animals react to human interference with their environment.  As a child it took me a long time to understand that animals have feelings.  In order to help students with that concept, I am on asking them to deconstruct pictures of animals as a class.  As each image is presented students will be asked to explain the emotion that is conveyed by the animals in each picture and what in the images conveys that emotion.

For example, the fourth slide contains a monkey grooming another monkey.  While viewing this particular picture I remember all those times as a child when my mother would try to make me look my best by fixing my shirt or combing my hair and I felt incredibly bored, most likely giving a similar look to the one in the picture.  I imagine that most of my students have felt like that at one point or another and I feel that this picture and others in the slideshow will help them relate to animals.  As the class goes on students will be asked to provide a scenario for the animals that might have resulted in the image.

Once the activity is completed the class will be asked to choose an image of their own and to write a story to accompany the picture.  As the unit progresses students will be shown images of animals in distress because of human interaction in their environment.  Eventually this will lead to the students writing their own anthropomorphic tale about how a particular animal feels when humans interfere in their habitats.  I believe that by starting with a simple slideshow and by asking my students questions, it will help them develop a deeper appreciation for animals and hopefully will help them with their stories.

Image Credits:

I’m ready for some more by ucamuri found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed


Filed under COETAIL, Course 3, IB PYP

4 responses to “Teaching animal emotions through pictures

  1. I used this presentation in class. The students loved that I included my own pictures. The students were clearly able to understand and grasp the idea that animals do express emotion. Tomorrow we begin writing our stories, I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

  2. Great presentation idea! But make sure to tell them just because they think a chimpanzee looks like he’s laughing doesn’t mean he is (the one in the lower right): http://epstan.sysu.edu.cn/reading/unit9htm/facial%20expressions1.jpg

    • You’re right Alex. It was interesting to see how my ideas of the emotions varied from the opinions of the class. Thank you for the resource, I will make sure to use it in the future.

  3. Love this idea! Although I appreciate Alex’s point above, I think it’s a great idea to find the story inside a picture – especially if it’s understood that the story can be different for each person. This is a great way to make a personal connection with someone or something else, and to appreciate the power of stories and visual images. Including your own images was a great idea too – I know students appreciate seeing the “human” side of their teacher too – this helps them know that you really value the work that you’re all doing together. Well done!

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