Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2012
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Touch and Learn - Emotions

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Free app helps kids identify emotions, recognize body language

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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5 images

Pros: The extremely simple user interface lets kids focus on emotions.

Cons: Some images could identify more than one emotion, which could confuse some kids.

Bottom Line: Bridges the gap between feeling or witnessing emotions and using words to describe them.

Touch and Learn - Emotions can be an extremely useful tool for helping kids who are struggling to relate to and empathize with other kids, or who find it difficult to express their emotions using words. Be sure to use all of the settings to customize play, focus on certain emotions, and add your own lists. After kids practice identifying emotions on this app, act out some of the facial expressions and body language for various emotions to see if they've made the connection between the images and words that they've seen and heard with active expression. Then give each student a turn acting out an emotion for you or their classmates to guess what they're expressing. This app doesn't touch on how kids can effectively express these emotions when feeling them ("I am feeling so angry right now" vs. "You are making me angry"), so teachers may want to use it as a springboard and supplement the lesson by teaching that next-step skill as well.

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Touch and Learn - Emotions is a free app that helps kids learn to identify and name emotions, facial expressions, and body language. Kids see four pictures of people and hear a narrator speak an emotion-related word, then tap the image of the person who most looks like they are feeling that emotion, such as "afraid," "hungry," upset," or "scared." This very simple game includes more than 100 images of real people of various ages, ethnicities, and emotional states. Teachers can customize the words and photos, include their own voice recordings, or use the settings to choose just one or a few categories of emotions for kids who need extra help with specific concepts. You can customize the success messages that reward kids.

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Kids can learn to identify a wide range of positive and negative emotions using Touch and Learn - Emotions. Understanding emotions can help kids in many ways, including improving communication with other kids and adults and helping kids get more comfortable expressing their own feelings. The recommended age for this app is limited to preschool or early elementary school, but its usefulness can stretch far beyond that for kids with special needs related to social cues and emotional awareness. It addresses Common Core State Standards related to learning age-appropriate vocabulary, using those words in real life, and expressing emotions clearly.

Teachers will likely want to customize Touch and Learn - Emotions, and it could use a more in-depth tutorial to maximize its full learning potential. Fortunately, the settings option allows adults to adjust which images link to which emotions and set images to match more than one emotion. Overall, this app is an excellent way for kids to practice identifying emotions, body language, and facial expressions.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids can look at and identify emotions for more than 100 images of real, diverse people. You can add personalized audio and photos to boost engagement.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

By viewing photos and choosing which of the four people on the screen demonstrates the identified emotion word, kids can learn to connect vocabulary with facial expressions and body language. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The app needs an in-depth tutorial and some explanations for adults to help kids understand the more ambiguous images.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Denise W. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Fairview Elementary School
Roanoke, VA
Wonderful pictures as a way to learn and understand emotions. Great for comparing and contrasting emotions also!
This app is a wonderful way to teach emotions to younger students or ELL kids. It allows for wonderful discussion and comparing and contrasting between the 4 emotions that they can pick from or each question. The settings allow the teacher to control which emotions and how many emotions are used for each session. There is wonderful vocabulary development opportunities that are controlled by the teacher as students are ready for new words. It also allows the teacher to control how the correct/incorrect answer is addressed (phrases, sounds). As an extension activity and a way to individualize the app for your class, there is also a way to customize the picture and emotions that are used....possibilities are endless! Read full review