Jun 13 2017

Identifying and Expressing Feelings – Elementary School Counseling #lesson #plans, #school #counseling #lesson #plans, #elementary


The Color Monster is an AMAZING book that I heard about from the art teacher at my school. It’s about a monster whose feelings are all mixed up and need to be organized so he can understand them better.

I read this book with my kindergarten students, but I could see it working easily with K-2. I’m sure other grades would enjoy it too. The illustrations and pop-ups are truly spectacular. The kids were VERY engaged.

After we read the book, we talked about how we all have these feelings inside of us, but sometimes we have certain feelings more often than others. I thought it would be interesting to help my students reflect on their own feelings and represent those feelings through “monsters.” It was fascinating to see the combination of feelings that each student picked – it gave me a window into their personal experience. When we finished our drawings, we totaled all of the types of monsters using the “Color Monster Chart” (see below) that I had on the SMARTboard. That was a nice way to reflect on our classroom climate and how we can help each other when the “mad monsters,” for example, are taking over.

**If you have students who finish their drawings much earlier than the rest of the class (this usually happens), you can have them draw a “mixed up” version of their monsters on the back (a monster with all 3 of their feelings).

I teach students relaxation techniques using ideas from 101 Relaxation Games for Children . We practice the techniques, reflect on them, and then decide when to use each strategy (with the worksheet below). Students will even describe how to use the techniques so they can remember how to utilize the strategies on their own. You’ll need the book to understand and use the games.

Relaxation Games (Worksheet)

Relaxation Techniques for Feelings (Worksheet)

Feelings Glasses

This activity works best as an introduction to “Identifying and Expressing Feelings” lessons. It is an entertaining way to discuss feelings with younger students.

Now that I have an office with a SMART Board, I have been experimenting with all of the special features. I found “word dice,” which I instantly knew would be perfect for both small groups and classroom lessons.

I decided to create dice that students could use to roleplay various feelings. So, students go up to the SMART Board, tap the dice, and act out the animal and feeling they are given. For example, a student may have to act out a mad cat or a sad bear.

This is a simple activity that would be great at the beginning of a lesson to grab their attention or at the end of a lesson to practice what they have learned.

If you have access to a SMART Board, please feel free to download my roleplay dice (below). If not, you can easily create your own or use regular dice with a key (that explains what each number stands for).

Dice (SMART Board)

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy ,” as you can see in the trailer below, is about a world where clouds create little bundles of joy (babies, puppies, kittens, and other adorable creatures) for storks to deliver to loving homes. However, within this sugary sweet world lives a gloomier cloud who likes to create more unique and, at times, unappreciated gifts, such as sharks, crocodiles, and porcupines. This cloud’s poor stork is visibly exhausted and falling apart at the seams. One day, the storm cloud’s stork friend flies to a neighboring cloud – when old gloomy sees this, his thundering anger builds and his rain tears fall. But, have no fear! The weakened stork returns with a bundle of his own: a helmet and shoulder pads to help make the journeys easier.

So, how could a school counselor use this story? I think there are two excellent ways.
1. The storm cloud has a hard time expressing his feelings, so this movie could spark discussion on how to positively manage strong emotions.
2. Sometimes students who are outside the mainstream are confused why the general population doesn’t reach out to be their friend. I think “Partly Cloudy” could help these students reflect on the importance of the quality of their friends vs. the quantity. Being unique is great, but it can also make it more challenging to find great friend matches. It’s hard being friends with someone you don’t have anything in common with, so naturally, if you think and act outside the box, then you’ll have fewer great friends at your disposal. Therefore, you need a plan for how to seek out the right peers.

I created two workpages (below) that could help students organize their thoughts and create a plan of action for finding and developing positive friendships.

The Power of Words

I use this lesson when I have classrooms or grade levels that are consistently using bad language at school, particularly on the playground when there are fewer adults around. This will work best with 3rd or 4th graders, but can be adapted for other grades. I start this lesson by brainstorming reasons why we use bad words (refer to our list, bottom right picture). Then, we talk about alternatives. For example, if we are mad, how can we use other words to express that same emotion? Each student then receives a sample alternative word choice, such as “oops” or “rats.” Students then write or draw ways they would use that alternative word at school within each bubble letter. When students finish, they cut out their word and glue it on my pre-cut banner. We discuss our ideas as a whole group, then hang the poster in the hallway. This is a reminder that we are role models, especially for the younger students in our school. We need to watch how we act and what we say.

Want to try this with your students? Just download the PDF below and you’re ready to go!

I used this lesson with 2nd graders, but I could see it with older grades as well.

I started with the PowerPoint, which lends itself to discussions about anger and the choices we can make when we’re angry. The students were definitely engaged by the Angry Birds theme.

Then, I divided the students into 4 groups and had them write down positive choices they could make when they are angry. Each group had a different type of behavior to think about: throwing things, giving mean looks, saying mean words, and screaming. Groups presented their ideas on a poster, which I created using my school’s poster maker.

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