Speaking without Words
Nonverbal communication is an important part of how you "speak" to others. The best part is: just as you can choose what words you use, you can also choose what facial expressions and body language you use! How and how much you choose to communicate is entirely up to you!
In Grumpy Monkey, you know what Jim Panzee is feeling by the expressions on his face and the way he moves his body. Even if he didn't say a word or didn't want anyone to know how he felt, you can easily guess he is grumpy from the frown on his face, his furrowed eyebrows, his gritted teeth, his hunched shoulders, and his paws scrunched up into fists! He shows his emotions with his body — with his nonverbal communication.
So the question is: What do facial expressions, gestures, and body movements look like to others and how can you use them to either share what you are feeling or to keep your feelings private? Let's play a game of body language charades to explore these questions!
Body Language Charades
You may not always be aware of the face you are making or the gestures and posture you are using. Facial expressions and body language can be hard to understand and that's OK, but with a little practice and some feedback, you will quickly learn the ins and outs of nonverbal communication. Here's how this game of charades works:
Pick a partner, such as your mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, or classmate.
Choose an emotion from the emotions list below. To "get in character" think of a memory or experience when you felt this way, then act out that emotion using facial expressions and/or body movements. Remember that you can use your eyes, eyebrows, mouth, nose, shoulders, arms, hands, feet, legs, and more to act out the emotion. If your partner is blind or low vision, describe your expressions and gestures as you make them.
Here are some examples:
- You choose "happy" from the list and think about the birthday when you got the very best present ever! You put a huge smile on your face and lift your hands over your head in a cheering motion. Can your partner guess that you are happy?
- You choose "angry" from the list and think about when you wanted to go to the park but it was pouring rain outside. You cross your arms, pout your lips, furrow your eyebrows, and stomp your feet. Can your partner guess that you are angry?
- You choose "sad" from the list and think about when your favorite toy got broken. You slump your shoulders, drop your head, and put a big frown on your face. Can your partner guess that you are sad?
Ask your partner to guess the emotion you acted out. If they guessed wrong, ask them to show you how they would act out that emotion. Ask them to describe the expressions, gestures, and body language they associate with that emotion and why.
If your partner guessed correctly, pick another emotion from the list and act it out. Try going through the entire list!
Keeping Emotions Private
Sometimes you don't want people to know what you are feeling. When you talk, think about the messages you send with your facial expressions and body language! Here are some examples of when you might want to keep your feelings to yourself:
- Your friend tells you a boring story but you don't want to hurt her feelings.
- Your teacher says something you think is stupid, but you don't want to be disrespectful.
- Your little brother makes you angry but you want him to think it is no big deal.
- Your teacher says something really funny, but you don't want to interrupt the class.
A Smile for Every Occasion
Not every smile is the same. Sometimes you want to show that you are very, very happy and sometimes you just want to be polite. Try different smiles while imagining these different situations:
- A smile for when your best friend comes to visit: a big smile and raised eyebrows
- A smile for when your mom tells you to "say hello" to your new neighbor: a small, polite smile
- A smile for when someone tells you a hilarious joke: a big smile with crinkly eyes
- A smile for when someone takes your picture: a formal smile; maybe one that doesn't feel very real!
The same is true for all facial expressions. They can be big and bold, or small and reserved, depending on what you want to express!