What Are I-Statements?

I statements are used to let someone know that you feel strongly about something without putting them on defense.  They can let the other person know that you own the feeling and are trying to deal with it yourself, but that you need help from them, without blaming them for the feeling.

For example, students might say, “I am feeling left out because I haven’t had a chance to join your game” instead of “you never let me play”.   

Watch out for these pitfalls:
Just be careful not to include the word “you” in the I statement.  For example, don’t say, “I am feeling left out because you never let me play”. 

Also, make sure that your facial expression body posture and tone of voice match your desire to get along.  If you have a scowl, crossed arms and an angry sounding voice, the message won’t be received quite the same. 

Even more uses:
Compliments - 
I statements are also a great way for students to compliment another student by letting them know exactly how they feel and why.  For example, they might say, “I feel so happy when we can play this game together”.  
Help Needed - 
I statements can be used by students to let adults know when they need help.  For example, they might say, “I feel frustrated when I try to do this math problem”.   Or, “I’m feeling overwhelmed because I don’t have enough time”, instead of “you are rushing me”.
Respectfully Disagree - 
I statements can also be a way to respectfully disagree with an adult.  For example, they might say, “I feel uncomfortable when I do that”.  
Emojis are a fun way for students to practice identifying their feeling and writing an I statement.  This sheet gives students a chance to draw 3 feeling emojis and write an I statement to go with them.

Follow-up I Statement - 
As a follow-up to making an I statement about their feelings, students can make an I statement about what they would like to see happen, without offending the other student.  For example, they might say, “I would like it if we could take turns” instead of “you never give me a turn”.  Or, “ I was hoping we could do this activity together” instead of, “you need to share”.
This sheet gives students a chance to practice writing an I statement and also a follow-up statement about what they would like to see happen and an action step they can take towards making that happen. For example, "I will try talking to my friend about this."

Once students have mastered the I statement when sharing their feelings, another great time to use I statements is when students critique each other’s work.

Constructive Criticism - 
I statements can be used for constructive criticism, for example saying, “I had a hard time understanding what you wrote” instead of “they way you write is confusing”.

Or, “I prefer softer colors” instead of “the colors in your painting are too bright”.

After doing some emoji I statement activities, use the cut-apart pages as a way for students to writing about their feelings on an as-needed basis.  They can be left out in the classroom for students that need a cool-down and reflection activity.

Drawing - 
My Emoji Drawing and I Statement Writing Lesson has the sheets pictured above along with some fun drawing pages. 

If your students can’t get enough emojis (and what students doesn’t like emojis) then you might want to try an Emoji Agamograph Lesson make by Art with Jenny K.


  1. I just found your page through Pinterest today. I am so excited by what I see. I am a librarian at a small school & public library and am starting an after school program in the next couple of weeks. I see many pages and activities that I now can't wait to try!

  2. Thanks, Vanessa! I'm sorry I missed seeing your comment earlier. I hope your after school program is going well and that you've enjoyed some Expressive Monkey art activities! I always love seeing how the artwork turns out, so feel free to tag me on Instagram or Facebook!


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