Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

Big Problems and Little Problems

A topic often posed to us as school counselors at the Elementary level is tattling. Tattling takes away from teaching time and robs students of the opportunity to solve their problem themselves! My students loved acting out different scenarios and brought about many laughs during their role plays. I am always so impressed by the creativity of my students in their role plays and in their teamwork when doing role-plays.

Lesson Title: Big Problems and Little Problems

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • A:A2.3 Use communications skills to know when and how to ask for help when needed
  • PS:B1.1 Use a decision-making and problem-solving model
  • PS:C1.7 Apply effective problem-solving and decision-making skills to make safe and healthy choices

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to differentiate between big and small problems
  • Students will be able to determine when to tell an adult and when to solve a problem themselves
  • Students will know how to solve a variety of problems themselves and how to ask for help


  • Role-Play Situation Print Out
  • Optional: Printed worksheets
  • Book: Of Course It’s A Big Deal OR technology/book to play/read Don’t Squeal Unless It’s A Big Deal


Read Of Course It’s A Big Deal by Bryan Smith


Don’t Squeal Unless It’s A Big Deal


  • What is the difference between a big problem and a small problem?
    • A big problem is when someone is hurt or in danger or when someone is hurting something that doesn’t belong to them.
    • A small problem is a problem that kids can solve without a grown-up’s help
  • Why is it important that we solve our small problems ourselves?
    • Tattling takes away learning time and can upset our friends
    • Remind students to always consider whether they can solve their problem themselves before asking for help
  • Why is it important that we get help with our big problems?
    • To help keep us safe

Break students up into groups of 3-5 people. Explain that we are now going to practice (role play) solving different kinds of problems. I am going to give a situation to each group. Each group will have to act out their situation before acting out a potential solution to their problem. After each group presents their situation and solution, discuss with the class whether the problem was a big problem or a small problem. Ask students to share other solutions they may have considered.

Here are a few worksheets that you can use instead of or in addition to acting situations out if you like to have a worksheet with your lesson. Some kindergartners may find acting out a bit difficult, and the Report Vs. Tattle Sort is a nice activity to do with younger student to test their knowledge and allow them to practice their fine motor skills.


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