Home of the Bear Cards

The Bear Cards® Activities

These activities are about the feelings and events you actually experience (whereas The Bear Cards’ games are about imagined situations)

One of the best things about The Bear Cards® is they allow people to discover and share their feelings, even if they don’t have the right words at the time. “I feel / felt like this bear” is a gentle yet profound way to start talking about your feelings.

With practice you will develop a deeper understanding of how feelings affect you and those around you. You will see how your feelings (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) arise under certain circumstances, and learn that you can choose how you respond to the feelings you come to know and accept.

Remember!
Before starting any activity, everyone needs to be aware of the following:

  • Only you know how you really feel. There are no right or wrong feelings for any situation and none that we should feel at any time. People’s feelings are always genuine.
  • It’s ok to make it up. If you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable with your true feelings, you don’t have to share them. It’s ok to make up your response or even opt out at any time by saying something like “I don’t feel like talking about this now.”

Activities

  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

    Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

    Intro:
    This activity helps family members to reflect on the feelings in their day. Over time it can be useful in identifying recurring patterns.

    Instructions:
    Bring out The Bear Cards after the evening meal and ask each person to think about how they felt at breakfast time that day. Pass the cards around and each person chooses a bear that best represents their feelings at that time.

    Repeat the exercise for lunch and dinner times so that each person has three bears.

    Invite everyone to describe their choices and to comment on others’ choices. Respect the right of anyone to not respond and, if so, just simply acknowledge their choices.

    Variation:
    You can also use this activity for tracking feelings over any other time frame or event. Try it for different times of the week, an afternoon or even family events such as Christmas or outings.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    Why did you feel like that at that time?
    What happened between times that made you feel different?
    How often do new feelings arise?
    What was the overall feeling for the day or event?
    What patterns can you see in your feelings?
    What is your best time of day?
    What is your worst time of day?

  • If This, Then That

    If This, Then That

    Intro:
    Explore how feelings arise in response to certain situations and the consequent behaviours and emotions that can be triggered by that feeling.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Think of a situation where people felt strong feelings. The people in the group can focus on their own individual situation or you can think of a shared one. Each person selects a card that shows the feeling they had at the time. Spend a few minutes showing your cards and talking about what it was that triggered this feeling.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    What physical sensations were apparent at the time?
    How did the feeling alter your behaviour?
    What other feelings arose as the situation unfolded?
    Does this train of feelings seem familiar to you?
    Does one feeling trigger another?
    Did the feeling depend on the situation or was it there anyway?

  • It Takes Two To Tango

    It Takes Two To Tango

    Intro:
    Sometimes it is easy to blame others for the way we feel and the things we do. It is only possible to overcome negative patterns of communication by not blaming others for our own emotions and behaviour. This activity can help identify negative patterns of communication between two people by tracing the progression of feelings and behaviour between them. The questions are useful for identifying ways to break the cycle.

    Instructions:
    Think of a situation between you that was difficult. Spread out the cards, face up. One person goes first, choosing one or more cards that show how they felt at the time. They then describe the feelings they were having and what they actually did and said. The next person then chooses a card(s) that shows how they felt in response to the first persons actions. They also describe the feelings they were having and what they actually did and said. At this stage you can either stop and investigate what was happening between you or continue taking turns to try and uncover deeper feelings.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    What feelings are triggered in me in response your actions?
    Do you have any ‘automatic’ responses to certain feelings?
    Could I behave differently when I have this feeling?
    What would happen if I just said what I was feeling rather than behaving in the usual way?
    Are there feelings that regularly arise?

  • Mixed Feelings

    Mixed Feelings

    Intro:
    We often have more than one feeling about a situation. Acknowledging and accepting mixed feelings is an important part of emotional development.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Ask everyone to think of a particular situation. Each person chooses two (or more) bears that show how they felt at the time. Take time to discuss the bears people have chosen and how the feelings are different, or possibly even conflicting.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    Is it ok to have mixed feelings?
    Can you think of other times you experienced mixed feelings?
    When can you tell you are having mixed feelings?
    How can you tell others that you have mixed feelings?
    How does it feel to have mixed feelings? (choose a bear for this too!)

    Variation:
    Deal two cards from the pack to each person and ask them to think of a situation (real or imagined) when they could experience these two feelings simultaneously.

  • My Bear

    My Bear

    Intro:
    Use this activity to explore the diversity of feelings in a group at any given time.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Think of a situation where all members of the group were there and invite them to take a few moments to choose a card that shows how they were feeling at the time. After everyone has selected a card, take turns to talk about how you were feeling at the time. After everyone has discussed what they were feeling you can go on to explore how people were experiencing such a variety of emotions.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    Why do people feel differently about the same situation?
    Would you behave differently if you knew how others were feeling at the time?
    Can you understand why people did what they did?

  • Once Upon A Time…

    Once Upon A Time…

    Intro:
    This activity is great for children to learn to recognise others’ emotions and see the connections between feelings and actions.

    Instructions:

    Spread out the cards, face up. Choose any short story (fairy tales like Red Riding Hood are good) and tell the story, stopping along the way to choose cards that show how the characters are feeling. You can focus on just one character if you like. As the story continues you can make a storyboard of feelings.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    How would you feel if you were in the same situation as the character?
    Would you have acted in the same way as the character?

  • Seeing Things Differently

    Seeing Things Differently

    Intro:
    This activity is best for two people. It’s amazing how we can interpret the same situation so differently from others. Seeing Things Differently reminds us to never assume what others are feeling or going through.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Think of a situation where both people were present.
    One person turns away and doesn’t look while the other chooses two cards – one for how they were feeling at the time and one for how they saw the other person.

    Do not show these cards yet.

    The second person now chooses two cards (one each for how they were feeling and how they saw the other person) while the first looks away.

    Now reveal your cards.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    How does the card you chose for yourself compare with the card the other person chose for you?
    Do you see each other differently to how you really feel? Why?
    Do we make assumptions about other peoples feelings?
    What could you do to better understand how others are really feeling?
    What could you do so others understand your feelings more easily?

  • The Physical Connector

    The Physical Connector

    Intro:
    Good for one or more people, this activity works by connecting our feelings with actual physical responses in the body. Awareness of these sensations (such as heat or cold, muscle tension, fidgeting and butterflies in the tummy) can help us keep in touch with our feelings and be an early warning signal for difficult emotions.

    Instructions:
    Spread out the cards, face up. Think of a time when you had a strong feeling. Choose one or more cards to match your feeling. Try to re-experience your feeling by focusing on it for a while. Now see if you can feel any sensations in your body that might be connected with the feeling. This might be difficult at first, but with practice will become easier.

    Variation:
    Think of a time when you had a physical sensation such as butterflies in the tummy or blushing. Connect this sensation with the feelings you had at the time. What are they? Chose a bear that expresses this.

    Questions/Conversation starters:
    How strong are the physical sensations?
    Is it easier to be aware of the feeling or the physical sensation first?
    Are there deeper feelings in relation to sensations that aren’t apparent at first glance?

  • Ups and Downs

    Ups and Downs

    Intro:
    Ups and Downs is an activity which encourages family members to talk about the high and low points of their day (or week, if doing this activity on a weekend). Conversations about both pleasant and unpleasant feelings reinforce the fact that having highs and lows is perfectly normal and healthy. Simply being aware that unpleasant feelings do occur, helps to keep them in perspective and makes the event or situation easier to deal with.

    Instructions:

    Ask everyone to think of the worst thing that happened during the day (or week). Spread out The Bear Cards and ask each person to choose a bear that best shows how they felt about it at the time.

    Next, ask everyone to think about the best thing that happened during the day (or week). Ask each person to choose a bear that best shows how they felt about it at the time.

    Acknowledge all the choices and invite everyone to describe the situations which evoked both feelings. Respect anyone’s right to not respond.

    Questions/Conversation starters:

    Why did you feel like that at that time?
    Was your worst time an isolated incident or something that is likely to happen again?
    What could you do to make the unpleasant times better in the future?

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