The first step is to be able to identify common emotions first and then less common later. Being able to identify emotions comes before being able to label an emotion. Common emotions and the earliest to be understood developmentally include: happy, sad, mad, sleepy, and scared. For children just learning, exaggerating the emotion is a helpful teaching strategy. Pairing words with the emotion is also important. Just as important is calling attention to basic emotions when they are being experienced (by your child or someone else). Doing it within the moment offers concrete information about the feeling. Acting out these emotions is a fun engaging activity most children enjoy. This game also encourages turn taking. Take turns with your child acting out common feelings. Some children will need you to both NAME the emotion and show them a PHOTO example to be successful. Be sure to show many examples of each feeling so you can be assured the truly understand the emotion even in all its forms (not all sad mouths look the same, but there is a "sameness").
Children who can act out emotions when simply hearing the label, may be ready to begin incorporating some cause and effect reasoning. An example would be: "You just fell down, How do you feel?" Once a child has shown the ability to predict their own feelings from verbal scenarios, they can begin to extend that problem solving to others (e.g., "Mommy just spilled some milk, how does she feel?").
Below you will find 2 files containing pictures I used with students depicting emotions. Feel free to print them out, cut them, and use them at home. Just some ideas for games/activities using this resource include: matching feelings; identifying feelings (start out with just 2 card choices in front of the child and increase the quantity only when the child has shown the ability to pick the labeled emotion out of a group of 2 pictures); constructing a face using facial features depicting the targeted emotion (e.g., crying eyes on top and sad mouth below), and using the cards to act out feelings as discussed above. Have fun!