Different Emotion Words Within One Emotion

In these emotion words worksheets, students will evaluate words that describe the range of one emotion and identify situations that make them feel that way.

It’s important that students learn to identify what degree of emotion they are feeling in different situations, rather than just mad, sad, happy, etc. Mad, sad, happy and scared are primary emotion words and are the basis for identifying feelings, whereas feelings like devastated, furious, elated, etc. are secondary emotion words.

When kids can start describing their feelings specifically, it will be easier for them to identify and understand their own feelings, as well as have others understand their feelings. It should also help them with their empathy skills, being able to recognize how others might feel in specific situations.

Once students have learned to identify their emotions in different situations, they can start identifying the different degrees or nuances of those emotions. There is a difference between being annoyed and furious, and students should be able to recognize which situations make them feel these differences.


Start the discussion by asking students the following questions:

  • What’s the difference between being annoyed and being furious?
  • Are there any other emotions that are similar to each other like that, but some might be smaller feelings and some might be bigger feelings?

Activity Directions

Cut out the sets of emotion words, mix them up, and arrange them face up on a table or on the floor.

  1. Tell the group they will be working together to sort words in this activity,
  2. Students should first work to group the words that go together under the same emotion.
  3. Next, students should put each group in order from the strongest to the least strong emotion.
  4. If you have a large group, you could make two copies of each word, split the students into two groups, and have them compete against each other.

Emotion Words Post-Discussion:

Once students have correctly sorted and ordered the emotion words, bring students together to discuss:

  • Were there any words that you weren’t sure where they fit?
  • Once you had them sorted, was it hard to put the emotions in order from biggest to smallest? Why or why not?
  • Do you think all emotions have different degrees like this? Can you name any others?
  • Why is it important to know the degrees of different emotions?

As you discuss the activity, point out that there are small emotions and big emotions, and different situations will cause us to feel these different degrees of emotions. Being specific about how we feel using the right terms helps others better understand how we’re feeling and how to help us.

emotion words