Building shapes out of wooden pieces sounds easy enough—until the blindfolds come out. Designed to put your child into another person’s thoughts and encourage creative communication, this family version of the popular classroom game comes with multiple game templates and an intuitive Ways to Play map.
Ages 6+, twentyonetoys.ca, $150Photo: Twenty One Toys
A conscientious character who is highly empathetic, Mini Bella Rose comes with a “Sensitive” plush emotion that can be tucked into her pocket, to help your child express her own sensitivity or learn to recognize it in others. Bella Rose can even close her petals when her feelings are hurt, as sensitive kids (and adults!) often shut down when they feel bad.
Ages 3+. canadatoysupply.ca, $30Photo: Canada Toy Supply
Help your child identify feelings of happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, fear and shyness in both himself and others with this colourful set of wooden eggs. These six “eggspressions” also come with a storybook, Scrambled Feelings, where the entire group of emotions work together to solve a problem.
Ages 2+. amazon.ca, $33Photo: Amazon
This easy-to-follow card game helps older kids recognize nonverbal cues as they try to guess the emotion of the card holders. The 40 cards take your child through multiple life scenarios—some more morally challenging than others—to inspire compassion and acceptance among players.
Ages 8+. childswork.glopal.com, $29Photo: Childswork Childsplay
Play a simple matching game while identifying 25 different emotions with these colourfully illustrated cards. The unlabeled images allow you and your child to explore the expressions and feelings without any rules around their intended meaning. This game also comes with a poster containing a wide vocabulary of emotions.
Ages 2+. childswork.glopal.com, $27Photo: Childswork Childsplay
Tommy, Looey, Emily and Tasha are soft and cuddly dolls that can show a range of emotions through moveable mouths and eyebrows. By learning to display different feelings, children draw the connection between outer facial expressions and inner emotions, which leads to understanding another person’s point of view. A handy chart of 15 facial expressions helps get your child started.
Ages 4+. schoolspecialty.com, $49 eachPhoto: School Specialty
Who knew you could fit 101 feelings inside a single jar! These tiny cards printed with feeling words such as “gleeful,” “cranky” and “insecure” are great for role-playing games to act out a variety of emotions. This game can also be used as a journaling prompt to inspire short stories that tie in with the chosen emotion card.
Ages 8+. childtherapytoys.glopal.com, $13Photo: Child Therapy Toys
Gain the perspective of other players with a quick roll of the dice. These colourful cubes contain 36 questions on topics such as pets, travel and food to inspire conversations around the unique life situation of each player. By hearing and sharing personal stories, children develop compassion and understanding for experiences that aren’t their own.
Ages 5+. scholarschoice.ca, $20Photo: Scholar's Choice
No winners, no losers—just 35 cards featuring emotionally affirmative messages, such as “I share my ideas and my feelings” or “When I hold love in my heart, my forgiveness heals.” Use the welcome deck to get started, or just start pulling out cards to inspire conversations around your child’s feelings, helping to foster their emotional intelligence and empathy towards others.
Ages 3+. genmindful.com, $24 USPhoto: Generation Mindful
Photo cards of emotional situations—such as a visit to the dentist—set the stage in this involved game where players draw or describe how they feel in that situation. When the timer is up, everyone shares their unique emotion to see if it matches the one felt by the player who drew the card. Talking about all the emotional reactions afterwards helps put players in each other’s shoes.
Ages 3+. funandfunction.com, $20 USPhoto: Fun and Function
Identify anger, fear, surprise, excitement, happiness and sadness with these six inflatable emotion balls. Your child can mirror the expressions or use the balls to act out emotions they feel themselves or have seen in others, for example by bouncing the excitement ball, holding the sad ball close or throwing the surprised ball up in the air.
All ages. funandfunction.com, $50 USPhoto: Fun and Function
Read more: EQ vs IQ: Why emotional intelligence will take your kid further in life See what Google says are going to be the hottest toys this year 29 best toys for babies and toddlers