By Stephen Douglas

Welcome to Dude, What’s Your Mood?, a fun game for the whole family that creates a language to discuss moods and feelings that everyone can make sense of. This game is suitable for all children of reading age and their parents. For younger children, choose feeling words they understand* and you can read through the game along with that child.

You can play as a group, all working together, or split in two teams and compete. It’s pretty simple. Just follow the following four steps:

1. THE MATERIALS: COLOURED PAPER, SCISSORS, AND A PEN

Start by obtaining four letter-sized (8 1/2″ x 11″) sheets of paper, two in one light colour, say yellow, and two in another light colour, say pink or light blue. Slightly thicker stock works better. Now take a sheet and fold it in half three times. That should produce 8 rectangles of equal size when you open it up. When you have folded all the pages (each will be about 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″), take a pair of scissors and cut the sheets up along the folded lines. Repeat with the other three sheets. You should end up with 16 equal sized ‘cards’ of one colour, and 16 of the other colour.

2. MAKING UP THE FEELING CARDS

Decide which colour of cards you wish to use for the Feeling Cards. Choose 16 feelings and write one on each sheet of paper or “card” of that colour. Here is a suggestion to help. In the following six rows are four words that describe similar feelings. Pick two or three from each of these rows (or think of some that are similar) to help ensure you have a good variety of feelings.

content satisfied pleased grateful
peaceful happy joyful elated
hopeful curious excited eager
sad disappointed discouraged embarrassed
irritated frustrated angry furious
fearful anxious scared worried

Make sure that everyone playing understands the meaning of all the words you choose.

Here are a few tips: – for younger children (early reading) try using a shorter version, six Feeling Cards with basic feeling words like mad, sad, proud, glad, excited and scared. – for groups of older teens and adults, consider adding more interesting feeling words such as exacerbated, blissful, trepid, ecstatic, peaceful, or depressed. – I recommend for this game that you do not use the feeling word upset because it is vague and could mean either sad, angry or anxious, making it harder to identify.

Good, now that you have the Feeling Cards finished, shuffle those up and put them into a pile, face down so that no one knows what order the feelings will appear in.

3. MAKING UP THE QUESTION CARDS

Now take the other coloured papers cards and create between 8 and 16 questions (it’s okay to repeat these if needed, as long as you have a good fun variety of questions), writing one on each card. Here are some examples you can choose from, or create your own:

– what colour reminds you of this feeling?
– name a time when you felt this way
– look around the room and name the thing you can see that most reminds you of this feeling
– if the feeling is negative, what do you need when you feel this way?
   or if the feeling is positive, what do you do when you feel this way?
– what food is most like this feeling?
– make a face to show this feeling
– where might you be if you felt this way?
– what would your pet do if it felt this way?
– what animal is most like this feeling?
– walk around the room the way you would if you felt this way
– if you were this feeling, what type of *sigh* or *grunt* or other sound would you make?
– where do you feel this feeling in your body?
– name a comic book figure or tv character who feels this a lot?
– if someone told you that they felt this way, what would you do?
– on which day of the week do you feel this the most?
– what activity at home or at school might you be doing when you feel this way?

As you play the game and understand the nature of it better, you may find that you are starting to think up enjoyable new questions that you can add in future games. Now, when you have the Question Cards finished, mix those up a bit and put them into a second pile, again face down so that no one knows what order the questions will appear in.

4A. RULES IF YOU PLAY AS ONE GROUP = COLLABORATIVE (2 PLAYERS MINIMUM) RECOMMENDED FOR YOUNGER PLAYERS

Decide who is going to go first. That player picks a Feeling Card without showing anybody else and reads it to him or herself (silently). The person seated to the left of that first player now picks a Question Card and reads it aloud to the group. The player with the Feeling Card then answers the question (without naming the feeling) and everyone else gets to guess the feeling. Talk about it between you and when you agree on a feeling, the player with the Feeling Card tells you if you are right or wrong. If you guessed it right, remove that Feeling Card from the game. If not, shuffle it back into the stack of Feeling Cards. Variations include allowing two or three guesses per turn, which is advised the first time you play. The player who asked the Question Card before, next picks a Feeling Card and you repeat the above. Keep going until you have correctly guessed all the feelings in the deck (or until dinner time, whichever comes first).

4B. RULES IF YOU PLAY IN TWO TEAMS (4 PLAYERS MINIMUM)

Split up into two teams. Decide which team is going to go first. You can flip a coin, pick a number, or simply takes turns going first from one day to the next. That team picks a player to start, who picks a Feeling Card without showing anybody else and reads it to him or herself silently. The person seated to the left of that first player now picks a Question Card and reads it aloud to the group. The player with the Feeling Card then answers the question (without naming the feeling) and everyone on his or her teams talks about it between them and when they agree on a feeling, the player with the Feeling Card tells them if they are right or wrong. If they guessed right, the card is turned up on their side of the table. If not, the other team gets to talk about it together and guess. If, in their turn, they get it right, the card is turned up on their side of the table. If neither team guesses it, it is shuffled back into the stack of Feeling Cards.

Now it is the other team’s turn. They name a player to pick a Feeling Card. Repeat the above. Continue, taking turns between the two teams, each time a different player picks a new Feeling Card. The play continues until all the Feeling Cards have been guessed and the team with the most Feeling Cards wins. (The winners, of course, then offer to give shoulder massages to members of the opposing team in appreciation of their good competition.)

I hope you enjoy this game. Feel free to send me your comments or suggestions for improvements. I have found it to be enjoyable for a wide variety of families and it is a useful way for parents and children to discuss their feelings together, learning that all feelings are okay, it is what we do with our feelings is important, there are positive things we can do with our feelings, and if our feeling is negative, that there is always something we can do or someone we can talk to which will help. Keep this in mind when playing this game with your children and you may find it opening up meaningful discussions.

Feel free to print out these instructions for easy reference in the future. Permission: in addition to clients and individuals for personal and family use, family service organizations, schools, social workers and counsellors are welcome to use this game for therapeutic (not for sale) purposes.

— Stephen Douglas, 2004