How to Make an Emotional Wheel


Let’s Make an Emotion Wheel!


The Emotion Wheel can be a very powerful tool for students to identify and discuss their emotions. 

Inside SEAL: Social-Emotional Artistic Learning, we take the best of what arts integration is and couple it with the need to address students’ social and emotional wellbeing.

One of our best SEAL tools is the Emotion Wheel.  Find and download this amazing freebie by clicking here!  

This tool really helps students when they’re having trouble identifying their emotions and here, we are going to take it to a different level by actually inviting students to create their own Emotion Wheel.

You can do this face-to-face and remotely. I’ve done it both ways with a lot of success and I know you will, too.

Feel free to share this video with your students and their families!  So many people can benefit from the Emotion Wheel! 

Let’s get started!





The Emotion Wheel


When you teach SEAL, the Emotion Wheel can be a very powerful tool for students to identify and discuss their emotions.  When students (or teacher or anyone) makes their own Emotion Wheel it can prove to help the individual at a deeper level.


Let’s do this!


First, to start your Emotion Wheel you just need a piece of paper.  You’re going to start with any size piece of paper that you want to use.  In the video above, I’m using a normal 8.5 x 11 piece from the printer.  You can experiment and even use some different sized papers to see what might be unique to what you are looking for.

I’m thinking of having my Emotion Wheel be something I can use to put into the sleeve of my binder.

Step 1:

First, we can start with a free hand circle. 

Sometimes just the act of doing this can be very mindful and relaxing.

The more you draw lightly with a pencil, it eventually starts to look like a decent circle. Of course, you can also trace a circle.  I found the cover to a coffee container that could work.  A paper plate is good, too. You want something that’s a pretty decent size so that it fills up your paper.  The more size you have, the more space you have to fill it in. 


Step 2:

Next, I put a dot in the center of the circle.  I just estimate it.  For my emotion wheel, I separate it into eight equal pieces, making lines from the center dot to the circumference of the circle. You can use a ruler if you want to make the lines straight and have the lines go through the center of the circle.  Or, instead of doing it with a ruler, add your own unique style and personality to this by drawing different styled lines from the center.  You can do zig zags, wavy lines or loops to the circumference of the circle.

Now, I have my eight pieces inside my Emotion Wheel. 


Step 3:

After that, I’m going to label these with different emotions. Now, if you have an Emotion Wheel like our SEAL Tool, you can look through all the various emotions.  Then, circle and choose the ones that you want to put inside your personal Emotion Wheel.

This is such a great resource because it has some different words and emotions that maybe you’ve never really thought about.  You can use this or you can just do a little brainstorm of your own.

That’s what I did.  I brainstormed some of the emotions that I want to put into my Emotion Wheel.  


Step 4:

After brainstorming, you can start writing your emotions around the outside of your wheel. You can also decide if you want to rotate your paper and write your words so that they’re all facing the center. . .  or, do you want to make it so that when you’re looking at it from one standpoint you can see all the words in one direction?

You can put words on the outside, or, if you want to use the words to take up a little bit more space, you could write the words and actually take up the entire piece of the Emotion Wheel.

That’s what I do because I’m not a very good illustrator.  For this reason, I use the space for the words and some color and design.  

The thing about this is that you can make some adjustments as you go; it’s all part of the process.


Step 5:

The next step is looking at how we’re going to add some color and some details. Now, you could use Sharpie to really do some good outlining, or you could just use some regular markers or colored pencils.

For example, right now I’m missing my black marker, so I’m going to take out my colored pencils and I’m going to use that to really highlight or outline the lines and the outside of the circle as well. 

This is, more or less, a little bit of a lesson in being flexible, right? 

In other words, if you don’t have the exact materials that you were hoping or that you expected to have, figure out a solution to your problem.  Flexibility is such a good trait to have and to practice.


Be creative! Be you!


You can also think of this as a rough draft.  If you wanted, you could test different ways that you might want to design your Emotion Wheel.  Then, go ahead and start a different paper and make a nice final copy of what you really want in your Emotion Wheel.

Sometimes, as you’re working, it doesn’t come out perfectly the first time.  This gives you the opportunity to “go with it” and figure out different ways to make things come out.

Of course, this doesn’t have to be perfect.  It’s all part of the process!  

Making this your own (even with any imperfections) is just as important as making it in the first place.

The more you put your own unique style into it, the more you’re going to actually want to use it.  It’s going to be just that much more special to you.


Step 6:

Once you have your words written out and the basic design down, it’s time to add some color.

My Emotion Wheel started with colored pencil.  I also decided to use markers as well.  I even combine a little bit of colored pencil and a little bit of marker just to give it a neat little textured effect.

Again, if you have some different kinds of skills, certainly add your own flare and your own uniqueness to your Emotion Wheel.


Engage in rich discussion!


The best thing is when everybody has their own unique personality coming out on their Emotion Wheel, it gives us a chance to have some good discussions.

Why did you choose to do it this way? Why did another person choose to do it another way?

To me, this is just a nice relaxing way to go about making my Emotion Wheel.  But, as you’re coloring, and creating, and drawing inside each spot of your Emotion Wheel really take some time to be mindful of what you’re doing.

If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the movement you’re making with your colors, the meaning behind the color, the design that you’re creating, the illustration that you’re making, and the facial expressions that you might be putting on your characters inside. Maybe your character is yourself in the various emotions.

There are so many ways to make your own Emotion Wheel.  After you’ve learned one way, you can be creative and try it in many different ways as well.


Using your Emotion Wheel!


Finally, let’s talk a little bit about how to use your Emotion Wheel now that you’ve created it.

The first thing you want to do is have it available to yourself. This is really important to actually know where your Emotion Wheel is. There are so many different places you can put it:

  • Hang it up in your room.
  • Hang it over your desk.
  • Put it in the sleeve of your binder.
  • Punch holes in it and stick it inside your binder.

This is a great thing to use for self-awareness. You want to do this for yourself so that you can refer to your Emotion Wheel any time you want.

So, how do you actually use your Emotion Wheel?

Well, one of the best ways to start is to actually journal about your emotions.  Do this just for yourself. It doesn’t have to be something that someone else is even going to read. What you can do is pick three emotions or even three different times during your day and reflect on how you felt during that time in your day.  Explore the various emotions on your Emotion Wheel and talk about that inside your journal.


Find your person.  We all need one!


If you’re ready to take it to the next level you can actually share your emotions with someone else. Now, the easiest way to go about doing this is to read to someone else what you put in your journal.  That can help you so that you don’t have to think too much about it as you’re doing it.  You can just simply read it to someone and ask them to listen.

Now, another way that you can share your emotions with someone else is just to share it in the moment. You can still use your Emotion Wheel to pick through what emotions you want to talk about. It’s a good way to label your emotions, share them with someone and then you can even discuss them with someone that you trust.

When you’re doing this, you’re talking about your emotion, you’re sharing the situation that got you into that emotion and then having a nice discussion with that other person about how you felt.

You want to make this a routine, have it be something that you do on a weekly or even daily basis.

Choose a time that might work for you.  Maybe it’s at the closing meeting at school.  Maybe it’s first thing.  Or, after school.   Maybe you have a day that’s devoted to checking in about different times during the week.


Incorporate into the classroom!


This is also a great activity for teachers to use for their students for journal writing. Give your students that free time to write inside their journal, take out their Emotion Wheel, and start journaling about it.

There’s one really important thing I want you to remember when you’re using your Emotion Wheel and talking about your emotions.

Emotions are not good, they are not bad, they just are.

We are humans and that means that we’re emotional beings.  So, own your feelings, own your emotions, and get to understand them.  Then, you can also learn how you can take the right actions when you feel a certain way. 

You don’t have to fix your emotions and you don’t have to fix someone else’s emotion.  What you can do is describe them and talk about them.  If you’re sharing with another person and it’s their turn to tell you about their emotions, the best thing you can do is listen. 


Comment and keep being inspiring!


What a great way to start your own conversations about emotions!

Let me know if you plan to create your own Emotion Wheel by adding to the comments.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Free Online Workshop about SEAL

Unlock the Power of the ARTs and Develop your Students’ Social-Emotional Skills!

Free SEAL Workshop

In just 1 hour, you'll learn:


✔️The “Beach Boys” technique you must use before you go into the school building each day—it will set you up for a day of positivity and peace.

✔️ The 4 embedded SEAL strategies that you can easily make a part of your busy teacher day.

✔️ The #1 mistake some teachers make when they first start integrating the arts with SEL—and how pretending you’re a glue stick can help you avoid it.

✔️ Ideas for jumpstarting arts integration in your classroom right away—you won’t want to wait to implement these.

✔️ And finally, the one question you must ask yourself if you find yourself thinking, “I’m not a very good artist though, I don’t think I can do this…”—it will totally change your mind.

✔️ Plus - Get a certificate for 1 Professional Development Hour!

How to Make 3 Origami Hearts
How to Deal With Stress as a Teacher