A Learn-While-Coloring Activity

Hi! I’m Melinda. I study facial expressions of animals and people. I use my knowledge to help artists make characters in movies and games look better!

Chimpanzees, like humans, use facial expressions to communicate and show their feelings.

Sometimes chimpanzee facial expressions can look similar to human facial expressions. Sometimes they mean something similar. Sometimes they don’t.

For Educators: Educational Standards


  • Compare chimpanzee facial expressions
  • Understand how different facial expressions convey different emotions
  • Connect to how human facial expressions are similar to or different from chimpanzee expressions
  • Learn that chimpanzees have emotions that relate to human emotions
  • Express creativity through color
  • Practice fine motor skills, coordination, and concentration

Here are three different chimpanzee facial expressions that use the same facial muscles as we use. 

Learn what they mean and how to tell them apart!


In real life, adult chimpanzees have dark-colored faces and young chimpanzees have light pink faces.

Use your imagination to color them however you want! In the examples above, I used some of my favorite colors.

Print to color or use a paint app online, like MS Paint or a similar



Kret, M. E., Prochazkova, E., Sterck, E., & Clay, Z. (2020). Emotional expressions in human and non-human great apes. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 115, 378–395.

Lindell A. K. (2013). Continuities in emotion lateralization in human and non-human primates. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, 464.

Parr, L. (2007, January). Understanding chimpanzee facial expression: insights into the evolution of communication. ResearchGate. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from

Parr, L. A., Waller, B. M., Vick, S. J., & Bard, K. A. (2007). Classifying chimpanzee facial expressions using muscle action. Emotion, 7(1), 172–181.

Lesson and artwork developed by Melinda Ozel, 2022. Learn more about Melinda and her work at



1-Life Science 1-1(1-LS1-1) Use evidence to explain that (a) different animals use their body parts and sense in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find and take in food, water, and air

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) 1 The child will be able to recognize, identify, and express their emotions.

SEL 5 The child will display empathetic characteristics.

SEL 7 The child will demonstrate the ability to communicate with others in a variety of ways.

*Massachusetts Science Standards, Massachusetts SEL Standards

When available, Common Core Standards are used. Otherwise Massachusetts State Standards will be used for reference.


Standard Bottom Line

Animals are diverse and have specialized adaptations that help them survive and thrive in their environments, and students can use evidence to explain these concepts.

  • Animal Diversity
  • Body parts & function
  • Sensory Perception
  • Adaptations
  • Basic Needs
  • Behavioral Patterns
  • Dependence on Environment

Standard Bottom Line

Effectively recognize, identify, and express their emotions, display empathetic characteristics, and communicate with others in a variety of ways

  • Emotional identification
  • Emotional vocabulary
  • Expressive skills
  • Self reflection
  • Understanding Others’ Perspectives
  • Empathy Development
  • Helping Behaviors
  • Verbal Communication
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Active listening
  • Conflict resolution


Observational Drawing: Students will (SW) color and label primate faces to determine how the primate is feeling

Role Playing: SW use dramatic play or role-playing activities, and can pretend to be different animals and demonstrate different facial expressions for different emotions

Emotional Recognition: SW recognize how a primate is feeling based on facial expressions

Artistic Expression: SW color pictures of primates with varying facial expressions that reflect varying emotions

Storytelling: SW tell a story about a primate to describe how the primate is feeling

Classroom discussion: SW share their work with peers

Objective: SW color and label primate faces to determine how the chimpanzee is feeling


Identify how a primate feels based on a picture, describes differences in faces, uses a variety of emotions to describe similar feelings

SW role play to show how the primate is feeling. SW create a story to describe how the primate feels.

Coloring may be realistic (1-LS1-1) or the color may be associated with the emotion felt in the picture (SEL)


Students may need prompting to describe facial expressions, may need prompting to connect faces to emotions

Students may use other visual prompting to identify or describe how a primate is feeling. Students may have limited vocabulary to describe emotions

Students may need prompting or modeling from adults or peers to role play and  tell a story about the chimpanzee and their feelings

Not Yet

Students color pictures with random colors

Standards by Brandi Bellacicco, May 2024

Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2022-2024. You may freely use, copy and share these Learning Activities for educational purposes. 
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