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Thomas & Friends

Face Puzzles

Help little engineers on the autism spectrum explore emotions.

HowDoYouFeel_8X11Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often find it hard to recognize facial expressions and the emotions behind them. Learning how to copy emotional expressions can help them better understand and control their own emotions and interpret the emotions of those around them. This simple puzzle-piece game will help them explore how facial parts move for different expressions.

Time: 10 – 15 minutes


  • Thomas & Friends “How Do You Feel” emotions poster: PDF
  • Face Puzzles Activity cutouts: PDF
  • Hand mirror, or a mirror on a nearby wall


  1. Review the emotions on the poster. Discuss the emotions of the trains seen on the poster. Have your child mimic each facial expression. Using a hand mirror, show your child what he/she looks like when he/she is making that emotional face. Point out the eyebrows, mouth and cheeks.
  2. Introduce the blank train face and puzzle pieces. Show your child the Thomas the Tank Engine blank face and say, “This is Thomas. We are going to change his face to show him with different feelings.” One at a time, bring out the paired mouth and eye features to make emotions. For example, show the “sad” face parts. Put them on top of the blank train face and have the child make the sad face in the mirror after you put it together. Repeat this step with each of the paired puzzle pieces.
  3. Play “find the face.” Place eyes/mouth pairs near each other on the table. Ask: “Which one is surprised?” Have the child move the correct pieces to the blank train face. Continue with each facial expression until the child finds them all.
  4. Play “mixed up face.” Let your child play freely with all the face parts (for example, he/she might want to mix the “surprised” mouth with the “happy” eyes, or the “sad” mouth with the “angry” eyes). Explain that sometimes, people feel more than one emotion at the same time. See what emotions you can come up with together.

Take It Further

Modify This Activity

  • If your child is struggling with the puzzles, have him/her work with whole faces. Introduce each of the whole faces with their matching emotion. Play with whole faces using #3 in the directions above.

Extend This Active

  • Engage in a discussion about how your child is feeling today, or how someone they know might be feeling today. Help your child to draw the correct facial expression for that emotion.
  • Play the Thomas & Friends “Many Moods” game at: Many Moods,” designed with ASD in mind, helps children explore emotions through video and game choices.

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
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© © 2017 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. The Thomas name and character and the Thomas & Friends logo are trademarks of Gullane (Thomas) Limited and its affiliates and are registered in many jurisdictions throughout the world. Thomas & Friends is a production of HIT Entertainment in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. © 2017 HIT Entertainment Limited. HIT and the HIT logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited. © 2017 Mattel. All Rights Reserved. ® and ™ designate U.S. trademarks of Mattel, except as noted.

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