Understanding Emotion with Disney’s Inside Out

Understanding Emotions with Disney's Inside Out

Even though it came out in 2015 (yes, that means in 2020, that was 5 whole years ago!), Disney’s Inside Out can still teach us a thing or two. Through the use of their 2015 Blockbuster hit, Disney created a way for all of us, young and old, to understand emotion through the use of Disney’s Inside Out.

By taking a seemingly huge concept and breaking it down in cartoon form, both adults and children were able to relate to Riley, the star of Inside Out. We are able to dive into her mind and experience emotions that are present inside of all of us: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

Without (hopefully) giving away any spoilers, we come to understand that certain emotions are better suited for some situations more than others. As much as we would like to, we can’t have one particular emotion, such as joy all the time. Or if we do find joy, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t preceded by some type of sadness or fear. Nothing with emotions is clear cut and we need to be sure to step back and process them in order to help us work through our life events.

Walt Disney World Opening Back Up Brings All the Emotions

How does Disney’s Inside Out relate to our present-day? Well, currently we find ourselves days away from Walt Disney World’s post-COVID-19 opening day. There is no doubt that many are experiencing ALL of the emotions. Whether you are at far away from the mouse or a pass holder who is going to be experiencing the parks first, the five emotions that Riley experienced in Disney’s Inside Out are most likely speaking to you.

Joy for Seeing Mickey Mouse Soon

Joy, for sure, at the thought of the Most Magical Place on Earth opening back up. It’s been a very long time since any of us has walked down Main Street, USA, or waved hi to Mickey Mouse. Just the thought of Cinderella Castle lighting up the night sky should have us all grinning ear to ear!

Fear of Going into the Unknown

Man, oh man, fear can definitely be present in this current situation.

Fear at the thought that there is a possibility of contracting COVID-19 due to being around a large group of people. Elsa (adding a little nod to Frozen right here) was right, the unknown can bring about so much uncertainty. There is so much we don’t understand about the COVID-19 virus.

(Side Note: Be sure to acknowledge the fear and determine where it is coming from. Yet, be sure you are educating yourself and letting your emotions be based on truths.)

Anger at COVID-19

There can also be a lot of anger surrounding this time in our lives.

Anger, for some, at the entirety of the situation and how this pesky little virus is a pain. Anger at how other’s who might view things differently are acting in regards to the situation. Or anger that things aren’t back to normal yet.

Sadness with the Accessibility of Walt Disney World

You might be experiencing sadness for those who are either 1) not able to go because of the inability to access tickets or 2) who chose not to go because that is the best decision for themselves or their families.

There might also be sadness in how Walt Disney World today is different from the parks we knew of in the past. Sadness that there are no parades, fireworks, and how character interactions have changed drastically.

Disgust with the Last Few Months

Or, last but not least, maybe you are experiencing disgust towards the COVID-19 virus in general and what it has done to the regular routines in our lives. Disgust with how something so little can derail so many things and mess with our fragile idea of normalcy.

(Possibly, for those of us who have kids, disgust towards how gross and disgusting they can be. Can they just keep their hands out of their mouths? Please? lol.)

Be Sure to Acknowledge Your Emotions: Understanding Emotion with Disney’s Inside Out

As you probably know, it’s important to step back and acknowledge each of these emotions. Each plays an important role as we process these new and different ways of life. A life that now includes COVID-19.

If we ignore any of the emotions, there is a possibility of some type of meltdown. It could be a meltdown for us or for our kids and could happen at home, or, possibly, in the parks.

Dang. No, thanks.

As any parent knows, meltdowns are NOT an enjoyable part of a theme park visit. For kids, it usually comes in the form of tantrums or refusing to do what is asked of them. For adults, it comes across as a poor attitude or poor social interactions. Those social interactions can be with people we know or someone who just happens to be in the wrong place at the right time.

I’m sure we’ve all been there receiving the brunt of someone’s sour attitude. 

If you can, set yourself up for success by taking a serious look at how you are feeling. Really try to step back and commit to understanding your emotions, before you enter the parks.

We See Riley Work Through Her Emotions in Disney’s Inside Out

Riley worked hard (as seen by the experiences of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear) in understanding her emotions in Disney’s Inside Out. Unfortunately, it took a drastic act before she was able to step back and really understand why she was acting in the ways she was.

Riley learned how to understand her emotions in Disney’s Inside Out, and, fortunately, didn’t deal with any permanent consequences because of her actions. Take a cue or two from Riley and work through understanding your emotions. That way, you can process everything and really understand how you feel. Acknowledge those feelings and find a way to ground yourself and come to terms with how things are different and this is our new normal. 

Helping Kids with Understanding Emotion with Disney’s Inside Out

As adults, it is easier for a lot of us to identify emotions and how they are making us feel. It might not be easy, but a lot of us have gained tools throughout our life in being able to label the different emotions we are going through. Kids, on the other hand, are often lacking these skills.

For children, there are often these different feelings that they experience but often won’t process appropriately. There can be a build-up of emotions and then ‘explosions’ or tantrums due to the littlest of things.

With younger kids, this is expected, if not a guarantee, and tantrums are developmentally appropriate. As kids age and mature, however, they need to become equipped with the tools to process through these emotions. That way, they can respond in inappropriate ways.

Riley and her group of 5 key emotions give us a great opportunity to help kids process through this messy world of emotion. Kids can get a basic understanding of emotions with Disney’s Inside Out and start to process how different emotions are appropriate for different situations.

Visuals Help Us with Understand Emotions with Disney’s Inside Out

The visuals provided in Inside Out provide a great springboard for teaching this foundation. Kids tend to be very visual and hands-on learners. Therefore, to continue with the education provided through understanding emotions with Disney’s Inside Out, below is a DIY project on the same topic. It’s both visual, hands-on, and can help improve fine motor coordination skills to boot!

Let’s dive into how to create this hands-on DIY craft and game. Be sure to snag the free PDF that provides examples of different scenarios your little one might experience.

Understanding Emotion with Disney’s Inside Out Fine Motor Activity

In a short summary, this craft is designed to help kids identify which emotions they might feel based on certain situations or scenarios. To help tie in Disney’s Inside Out, kiddos will identify each emotion based on the color it is portrayed as in the movie. In this project, the colors are represented by different colored fuzzies. The fuzzies represent the memory orbs depicted in Inside Out. Once the emotions are identified they will put an appropriately colored fuzzy into the matching color slot. 


Cardboard Egg Carton

Dot Markers

Pom-Pom Fuzzies

Kid Tweezers

Free PDF with Emotions Scenarios

1. Step One

Gather up all your supplies! 

Most of the supplies can be found on Amazon.com or at your local dollar store. The egg carton can hopefully be located easily, but if you don’t have one, use a cardboard box and poke holes into the top of it. 

Understanding Emotions with Disney's Inside Out

2. Step Two

The fun step!!

If you haven’t already, poke holes into the top of your cardboard egg carton. The holes should be large enough for a pom-pom to fit through. Then, take the dot markers and color the tops of the holes: yellow, blue, red, purple, and green. Make sure to have at least two of each color. The colors don’t need to be in a particular order.

The colors represent different emotions. Yellow represents joy. Blue represents sadness. Red represents anger. Purple represents fear and green represents disgust. 

That’s it for the setup! Easy, peasy!

If you want to get a little fancy, you can remove the sides of your egg carton and connect the bottom and top pieces together with hot glue. Then, beyond that, you can get even fancier by adding the Inside Out characters to the front of the egg carton. 

Understanding Emotions with Disney's Inside Out

3. Step Three

Next, be sure you have printed out the list of free Emotions Scenarios.

Cut out the cards and place them in a stack. Then, have your kiddo draw the cards and read the situation presented on the card. Next, have your little one determine what emotion is tied to the card and pick up the corresponding pom-pom. To increase the challenge, have the pom-pom picked up with a pair of tweezers and placed inside of the corresponding color hole.

After you’ve gone through the stack of cards, feel free to make your own! Alternatively, if you want to just practice fine motor skills, drop the cards and dive into using the tweezers to pick up the pom-poms. 

Understanding Emotions with Disney's Inside Out

Conclusion to Understanding Emotion with Disney’s Inside Out

There ya go!

Hopefully, this activity will help your little one with understanding emotion with Disney’s Inside Out. If you’re looking for more simple Disney inspired fine motor tasks, be sure to check out this Toy Story 4 craft and this Lion King craft. 

Inside Out Craft

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