Doodle-Faces (Writing: Show-Don’t Tell-Your Character’s Emotions)

Time Required: One or Two 45-minute sessions
Skill Level: Beginner
Recommended Grades: K to 2nd

In this lesson, students will work with a partner to develop a character and share his or her emotions. Students will use pre-made and self-made stencils to doodle the eyes, nose, and mouth on the face of their character in order to visually express their character's emotion and then write about it, using behavioral actions that show, rather than tell, how that character is feeling.

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Lesson Plan


Step 1

Whole group: Review different emotions: sad, happy, shocked, confused, angry, worried, etc.

Step 2

Project tablet or computer screen on the board. Ask students to identify the emotions of the person in each picture. Ask how they can tell?

Step 3

Review how we can tell what someone is feeling by the expression on their face or their behavior. Have students take turns acting out emotions given to them by the teacher.

Step 4

Share the goal: During this session, students will be creating a character with a partner. The partners will work together to select an emotion that their character will be feeling and then demonstrate it in two ways:

1) with a Doodle-Face, and
2) through a written piece that shows rather than tells how their character is feeling by describing the character's behavior.

Step 5

Project the Show Don't Tell Statements Worksheet on the board. Have students act them out while peers guess what emotion they are acting out.

Step 6

Model how to doodle the Doodle-Face Stencils. Note that students do not need to fill in the whites of the eyes when the pupil is attached to the outline. This will save plastic.

Step 7

Demonstrate how to arrange the doodled-face parts on the faces in different ways in order to reflect different emotions. Note that eyes, noses, and mouths may be moved up, down, left, right or flipped.

Step 8

Project the Doodle-Face to show students how the face parts can be arranged in various ways.

Step 9

Divide students into pairs and hand out 3Doodlers, blank faces (allow partners to select one), and Doodle-Face Stencils.

Step 10

As students doodle and arrange doodle face parts on blank faces, circle to assist and assess. Take a digital picture of each set of Doodle-Faces. Ask students which emotion their character is expressing.

Step 11

After doodling, hand out computers, tablets or paper and pencil to have students write a paragraph in which they show, not tell, how their character is feeling.

Wrap Up

Have students share their Doodle-Face images and writings with the class. Discuss their writings. Share the Doodle-Faces and writing samples on Twitter. @3Doodler #3DoodlerEDU


The teacher will assess the students' level of understanding through their writing, Doodle-Faces, and responses during discussions.

Possible Extensions

Students will create stop-motion videos using Doodle-Face parts and blank face templates which show their character transitioning between four different emotions. Students will create their own original stencils for new doodle-eyes, noses, and mouths that reflect emotions. Students will write a short poem about their character's emotions that shows rather than tells how they are feeling.


*Note that the blank face templates are from the Twinkl website.

There are eyes, noses, and mouths on this template, but it will be easier for your students to doodle the face parts located on the Doodle-Face Stencils Sheet.
**Show Don't Tell is a component of the Lucy Calkins Writing Program.

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  • art - the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

  • creative thinking - a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh and imaginative perspective.

  • design - to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans (for a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of an object, building, bridge, etc...

  • drawing - the art or technique of representing an object or outlining a figure, plan, or sketch by means of lines.

  • emotions - conscious mental reactions (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feelings usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.

  • feelings - an emotional state or reaction.

  • inference - Inference is a literary device used commonly in literature, and in daily life, where logical deductions are made based on premises assumed to be true. Another definition of inference suggests that it is rational but non-logical, which means that, through the observation of facts presented in a particular pattern, one ultimately sees different or new interpretations and perspectives.

  • language arts - the subjects (such as reading, spelling, literature, and composition) that aim at developing the student's comprehension and capacity for use of written and oral language.

  • literacy - the quality or state of being literate.

  • problem-solving - the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.

  • reading - the form or version of a given passage in a particular text.

  • show not tell - Show, don't tell (or "show not tell") is a technique used in various kinds of texts to allow the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author's exposition, summarization, and description. It avoids adjectives describing the author's analysis, but instead describes the scene in such a way that the reader can draw his or her own conclusions.

  • sight words - commonly used words that young children are encouraged to memorize as a whole by sight, so that they can automatically recognize these words in print without having to use any strategies to decode.

  • vocabulary - the stock of words used by or known to a particular people or group of persons.

  • writing - any written or printed paper, as a document or deed.

Educational Standards

Common Core

Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short
sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.

In This Lesson

Students will work with a partner to write a paragraph that shows, not tells, how their character is feeling, e.g., their character's emotion(s).

CS Teachers

Decompose (break down) a larger problem into smaller sub-problems with teacher guidance or independently.

In This Lesson

Students will break down the process of writing about a character's emotions through a procedure of doodling, modeling, acting, and writing.


Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

In This Lesson

Students will use a 3Doodler to create models of different eyes, noses, and mouths that reflect a range of emotions.


Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

In This Lesson

In the extension of this lesson, students will create their own designs for an original facial expression that reflects a particular emotion, and then doodle them with the 3Doodler.


Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

In This Lesson

Students will confer with a partner and whole group throughout this activity.

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